Tuesday, March 29, 2005
I would like to thank Bruce Norman for his very well-written letter (Sunday, March 20, 2005). It is important for the business community to acknowledge how the last almost three years have affected all LANL employees, be they UC or contractor. However, it is also important for the business community to describe the effects on them.
It is interesting that, after several posts to http://lanl-the-real-story.blogspot.com that reference how little LANL is spending in northern New Mexico, LANL is now extolling how they are supporting northern New Mexico businesses to the tune of $398.5 million. However, that includes labor contracts with KSL, PTLA, the bodyshop contractors, the task order contractors whose offices are spread throughout prime retail space downtown, construction, etc.
All PC and Mac desktop computer purchases come from Just-in-Time (JIT) contracted Albuquerque companies. All printer purchases come from a JIt-contracted company in Albuquerque. All stationary comes from a JIT-contracted company in Albuquerque. Most book purchases are done online.
Many computer and printer repairs go to a contracted company. Small northern New Mexico companies are no longer awarded contracts such as air conditioner maintenance after they have gone to the expense of getting Q clearances for employees unless those contracts are over $500K. KSL gets first bid on the contracts as well as the first right of refusal, and if they refuse a contract, it's placed with a company made up of all-union members, not a small non-union northern New Mexico company.
What's wrong with this picture? Probably computers, printers, books, and stationary comprise a fairly large percentage of the goods purchased by LANL. Right now the stationary stores in Los Alamos have higher prices than WalMart, Office Depot, etc. because they sell so little and have higher markups. If they sold more to LANL, LAPS, the county and LAMC, the markups would be less, and folks would purchase more locally. The same reasoning can be applied to computers, printers and their supplies and books.
Now LANL is trying to figure out how to set up procurement contracts with multiple companies. And some of those companies are concerned that if these contracts are established, they still will not get any business. And, of course, they can't compete because they are small; they have been driven out of the marketplace by LANL's exclusive JIT contracts just as Mom and Pop stores have been driven out by Wal-Mart, Sam's, Office Depot, etc.
One way to help out northern New Mexico is to allow competition between KSL and companies that provide electrical work, air conditioner maintenance, etc. because that will put more purchasing power in the hands of the small companies' employees. Second, LANL should make it very easy for folks to purchase computers, printers, books, etc. from whoever offers the the best prices and service. Purchase stationary from local stores in northern New Mexico. Open up the market, rather than artificially manipulating it, and let everyone compete.
As far as the Contingent Worker Project is concerned, converting long term contract positions to UC positions is the right thing to do. Too bad the reality of the effort has not lived up to its advertisements.