Thursday, March 24, 2005

LANL retirements this year to spike

LANL retirements this year to spike
By Bill Dupuy, KSFR

SANTA FE (2005-03-24) - Retirements are going up at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Laboratory spokesman James Rickman tells KSFR the projection for retirements this fiscal year is 50 percent greater than the prior year and 60 percent more than the year before that. He says the projection is for 379 people to retire this year. That compares with actual retirements of 251 in 2004 and 235 in 2003.

He says one factor contributing to the increase is the number of people at or near retirement age. The average age of staff scientists, known as technical staff members, is 47. Of that group of people, 39 percent are between the ages of 50 and 60-plus.

But Rickman confirms another factor leading to the increase in retirements as being the uncertainty over the contract to manage the lab. More than 8,000 of the lab's total workforce of some 12,000 are employees of the University of California, which hasn't yet said whether it will compete for the contract it has held uncontested for more than six decades.

The obvious risks to the University of California Retirement System may be the main motivator for some to retire, but not for me. Under ordinary circumstances I would work for several more years, but I am retiring out of protest. I can't buy into the way loyal and respected employees, LANL itself, and UC have been treated by our senior management, DOE, and Congress. I'm outa here.
Even as a so-called nannite, I have a hard time believing the numbers. Those numbers are well within the surges that people told me would be occuring in 2005 back in 1999. The numbers of about 4300 people able to retire, I heard in 2004 were similar. Of course, I have found that numbers quoted at LANL by staff and management are as useless as a mule's.. well I am trying to keep this post PG.

If only 350 people retire, DOE and congress would put that at as more than acceptable losses. I dont think anything less than 1200-2400 people retiring would really get their attention... and even then it might not.
I am on the fence and have not given the "official" I am retiring. Also the figure of people that are between the magic retirement numbers are skewed. In usual management PR fashion they quote the number of TSM Scientists and not the true total of the entire population. Support staff have always been treated as second class citizens of the lab.
I agree with 7:24 am. This is peanuts.

I also agree that it will take a huge number of employee retirements to be noticeable - not meaningful, but noticeable.

Unclear the retirees, in general, will be considered a loss at all. At any number. I say in general, because there may be a small number of people that DOE thinks is important. Otherwise, I cannot believe it matters to them at all.
Nanos said he was willing to restart the lab with 10 people if that is what it took. Clearly he hasn't changed his mind.
The number will be larger than 379, but perhaps not so many more. Then consider that LANL is not hiring new people. What I see is a much smaller scientific staff, but maybe more non-TSM workers -- for production.
Clearly science will take the biggest hit, because so much has never been documented and lives only in the brains of older workers. This is true in support as well as science. The loss of top notch people both in science and in support will deeply hurt LANL, but as far as I can tell, no one cares.
No one cares is right. If management needs to replace one worker that quites or retires with 2 or 3 to get the same results so be it. It actually works in there favor as now they have more people to "manage".
My read on ths retirements is that people will wait until the last minute. Many of us are still able (we think) to work productively and really desire to continuing doing so. The problem is that Los Alamsos is a very nice place to live and we would prefer to stay here. Terminating from LANL probably means either ceasing technical work or moving, both undesirable.

So, people are delaying the retirement decision. First, they want to see the final RFP, in particular the section on pensions. Then, they will want to see which organization gets the award.
We did an informal poll in my group yesterday. We have four announced and at least two yet-to-decide retirees out of a staff of 42 TSMs. That's better than ten percent and the RFP has yet to hit the street.
We did an informal poll in my group yesterday. We have four announced and at least two yet-to-decide retirees out of a staff of 42 TSMs. That's better than ten percent and the RFP has yet to hit the street.
The issues are that as far as people managing the books in Washington can see getting rid of 20%-40% of the workforce is going to be needed to do the enviromental, decommisioning of old buildings, and other stuff.

People in congress can get a lot better soundbite out of getting body armour to troops than testing nukes that never get used. [And yes the lab does more than that.. but it has never marketed it better than that.]
Some of my colleagues retired solely due to Nanos' "cowboy culture" speech. If Nanos had apologized, they'd still be there.
Stop joking 9:41.
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