Sunday, February 06, 2005

Assurances From C.S. "Tyler" Przybylek

Albuquerque Journal North
Sunday, February 6, 2005
LANL Workers Will Get Benefits

By C.S. "Tyler" Przybylek
NNSA attorney and chairman of the Source Evaluation Board in the Los Alamos management contract competition

OTHER VOICES: The government's recent draft Request for Proposal (RFP) that competes the Los Alamos National Laboratory management and operating contract has created some concerns on the part of current and retired laboratory employees of the University of California (UC), the laboratory's only contractor since it was created in 1943.
The laboratory is vitally important to the security of our nation and we recognize that the people who work at the laboratory are its greatest asset. To this end, it is our intent to ensure quality pay and benefits to match the high caliber of the laboratory's employees.
Right now none of us know who will be selected as the next contractor. At this point in the process, the National Nuclear Security Administration's (NNSA) Source Evaluation Board (SEB), which I chair, has received hundreds of pages of public, academia and industry questions and comments on the draft RFP. We are analyzing those questions and comments for possible use in developing the final RFP. But while we're doing that, I want to address some concerns that laboratory employees and retirees alike have expressed about pension and retiree health benefits and set the record straight.

Equivalency of benefits:
Under the new contract, whether the winner of the competition is a new contractor organization or whether it continues to be UC, should they bid and win, there will be no requirement for an automatic reduction in benefits. The new contract will have a requirement for substantially equivalent benefits for employees who transfer to the successor contract.

Retiree pensions and medical benefits:
Retirees will continue to receive their pensions from the University of California Retirement Plan (UCRP). Although, as the UC Retiree Handbook states, there is no vested right to retiree medical benefits, retirees will continue to enjoy medical benefits administered by either the new contractor or UC, with the costs being reimbursed by NNSA.

Alleged siphoning of pension funds: The government has no intention of siphoning off pension funds. We have a contract obligation to reimburse UC for any contributions it makes. The government will not permit any contractor to siphon off pension fundsĀ­ that's illegal.

Continuity of service credit: If a new contractor is selected, current laboratory employees who decide to transfer to the new contractor will receive full service credit and have their portion of UCRP assets and liabilities transferred to the new contractor's site-specific pension plan.

Fiscal status of the UC retirement plan: Laboratory employees know that UCRP currently enjoys an excess of assets over liabilities and many feel that the government has no role to play concerning UCRP.
After all, no contributions have been needed since 1990 due to the healthy funding status of the plan. However, the most recent Actuarial Valuation Report prepared by the Segal Company for the UC Trustees suggests that contributions will have to be made in the next few years, possibly as soon as 2007.
These employer contributions will continue to be reimbursed by the government.

Opportunity to evaluate a new benefits package: The SEB is examining what needs to be done to design an appropriate extension to the transition period under the new contract that will provide employees sufficient time to evaluate the benefits package offered by the new contractor while they are still UC employees, in the event that an entity other than UC is selected and, in that light, make their own employment decisions.
Should headquarters approval be received to extend the new contract's transition period, we would need to negotiate such an extension to the current contract with UC.

Having made these points, I would ask employees of the laboratory to withhold judgment on the future of the laboratory and not make any career decision until they have had an opportunity to review the benefits package to be offered under the new contract, to consider their options under the existing pension plan, and to have a few months of experience with the contractor that will operate the laboratory under the new contract.

I invite everyone who is following this process to regularly monitor its status through our Web site,

Przybylek is an NNSA attorney and chairman of the Source Evaluation Board in the Los Alamos management contract competition.

This week on "As Los Alamos Turns":
There are still no assurances for those under retirement age but with many years of UC service (i.e. all the baby boomers). At the Jan. 16th meeting, Tyler P. said employees could either convert to the new contractor, retire, or quit. The sticker is that if an employee quits, he or she retains UC service credit while simultaneously losing ALL other benefits. What do you think all those boomers are going to do, boys and girls? They have no guaranteed job and must 'negotiate' with the new contractor. Yikes... There are no 'promises' on record from Tyler P. to fix this quirk. Stay tuned for next weeks show....

An Avid Fan.

p.s. The director just put out a memo saying that retirees could not work at LANL in the future under any guise.
Could someone post a copy of the memo from Nanos about retirees not being allowed to return?
There was a link to that memo from the lanl home page a few days ago. As I read the memo, you could come back to work but not if you double dipped. The other thing it implied was that the group leader could hire you back without Nanos approval if you waived retirement pay for the period you worked, you would also not accrue UC service credit.
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