Wednesday, April 27, 2005

We need some answers

From the 4/27/2005 LANL NewsBulletin Reader's Forum:

Editor's Note: The most recent information regarding the status of the operating contract is available from links in the Daily Newsbulletin. Links to UC and the National Nuclear Security Administration can be found in the upper left corner. As additional information becomes available it will be added to the link sites and the Daily Newsbulletin will provide news coverage.

April 22, 2005

We need some answers

We need more information regarding the schedule for the implementation of the new Laboratory management and operating contract. We heard in February that the National Nuclear Security Administration had asked for a six month extension to the existing University of California contract, which (if granted) would indicate a switch-over in the spring of 2006, but we have not heard (as of mid April) whether that extension has been granted by the Secretary of Energy, or indeed by UC. According to the Lab Benefits office the current contract will end in September 2005, which is to say there is no extension. Yet, just five months short of that terminal date we still have not seen any indication of how the UCRP funds will be transferred into whatever the new plan will be, nor do we have tools for estimating how our defined benefit pension plan will convert.

With no information as to how the new plan will compare with UCRP, the fiscally conservative course is to follow the common assumption that the new plan will be considerably worse than the present plan. Many of us are therefore reluctantly led to explore retirement options in the absence of any concrete information. Those of us still low on the UCRP Retirement Factor charts must also apply for jobs elsewhere to make ends meet. If we are applying for faculty positions that begin this autumn, we need to make our decisions within the next few months. Clearly, if the changeover does not occur until March of 2006 (or later?), it would be to our advantage to continue UC employment at least until then because of the increase in service credit, and postpone (or extend) our job searches.

So, the questions we need answers to are: (1) What is the current schedule for the award of the new contract and its implementation? (2) Will there be a grace period during which we can carefully consider our options while we continue to accrue UC service credit and process our retirement paperwork? (3) In short, what is the absolute last day we can retire to ensure being covered under UCRP? (4) Finally, can we begin to put some brackets (lower and upper limits) to the retirement benefits we would get under the new contract manager's plan if we convert to the new employer without retiring?

--Galen Gisler

In response to a question about last possible day raised at last Thursday's quarterly retirement seminar, the HR presenter said that as far as she knew, the rules still allow retirement on 9/30/05.
As a LANL manager, I asked similar questions in writing 3 months ago on behalf of my group; nothing but silence. So I asked again; nothing but silence. So recently I personally went to Benefits to try to get answers for my group; all the benefits staff were in a meeting; no answers. I believe they actually do not know answers to some critically important questions and are instructed to not say anything about what little they do know. The bottom line: work the numbers on the UC Benefits site at; identify all your options under different scenarios for your personal situation; be ready to act rapidly; wait for the “final” RFP; study it; don’t believe anything promised that is NOT in writing; be very cautious about anything that IS in writing; and do what is best for you and your loved ones.
Regarding a lower benefits bound: one would hope that regardless of Lockmart winning the contract that LANL benefits would match or exceed that offered by Lockmart at Sandia. Retirement benefits can be calculated from the following link. It would be helpful as people work their own numbers under this plan and compare to present benefits via UC plan, to post their results as examples: an overview would quickly emerge.
And so Galen posing his questions to the Newsbulletin is going to get him (or anybody) any answers???????
These questions need to answered. What is our employer hiding from us? Give us a little bit of respect, after all many of us have have given you our a life, beyond what we spent going to school, showing up everyday, doing our job which has made this country free. Just ask your fathers, who fought in WWII. (not many left. (including Uncles)
Respect? Are you on drugs 7:05?
Being kept in the dark about the future of employee benefits if a crock. I am glad that I am retired. Had I seen this kind of stuff going on 25 years ago when I first came to LANL, I very definitely would not have come. This consitutes abuse of the employees. Those asholes at the DOE sit there happily on their government pensions and medical benefits. They are D students.
4/27/2005 09:06:02 AM Interestingly, your link to Sandia is not available. Below is the message I received when I tried to access it.

“The requested resource (/k2search/servlet/k2search) is not available.”

Hopefully, it is just a temporary downtime or something, otherwise it could be that Sandia has turned it off to external access. If that is true then it would be more in line with the current censorship LANL is invoking; hopefully not.
What would your retirement pension be if you were at Sandia/Lockmart
(or at LANL/Lockmart)?

The following is from online info at Sandia (google "rip2003.pdf sandia").
If it's not up to date or my reading of it is inaccurate, perhaps Sandians
could update/correct?

AgeCanRetire MinimumTermEmploymentNeeded
Any age 30 years employment
50 years old 25
55 20
60 15
65 10
Pension=(highest average pay over 3 years)*(retirement age factor)*(service credit)
Read the pdf yourself for more details (there are some), but it seemed to me
that this is essentially the same formula as at LANL. If so, the key difference
would be the "retirement age factor" numbers for Sandia vs Lanl. These are in
a table in the rip2003.pdf for Sandia, and available from the Retirement
Handbook for LANL. I've extracted them below, the third column is the ratio
of Sandia/Lanl as a percentage.

Age Sandia Lanl Ratio
50 1.04% 1.11% 93.6
51 1.12% 1.24% 90.3
52 1.20% 1.38% 86.9
52 1.28% 1.52% 84.2
54 1.36% 1.66% 81.9
55 1.44% 1.80% 80.0
56 1.52% 1.94% 78.3
57 1.60% 2.08% 76.9
58 1.68% 2.22% 75.6
59 1.76% 2.36% 74.5
60 1.84% 2.50% 73.6
With the disclaimer that I'm not a benefits rep, nor expert, and am merely
offering a personal, nonexpert opinion of some publically available information,
it seems that based on the above info that Sandia/Lockmart (Lanl/Lockmart?)
retirement benefits ranges from 93.6 to 73.6% of Lanl.

If sick leave is not converted to service credit at Sandia (it is at LANL),
then that's another loss. The Lanl COLA issue (retire by July 1, lock in
4% more) has been discussed already. No one should take action based on the
numbers or discussion above, they are merely one person's interpretation of some
publically available information.
4/28/2005 12:06:51 PM Even if your numbers are not entirely correct, you have clearly put in some work to try to compare plans and make the information available. Thank you very much for this effort.
There is a 'bonus' in the RFP for employee retention..
Since the new contractor can't be held responsible for those who retire before it takes over, it must try to retain those who transfer to the NEW LANL. The contractor may try to slow down future retirements by raising age, lowering factors, etc. until current employees stay longer.
The comparision between the SNL and LANL plans is very difficult. And, who knows what the new contract will provide. LM will have to set up an LLC for the LANL contract to protect itself from the liability. SO, the LLC could have a retirement program different from that of SNL.

I think that I will stick with the "bird in hand." I will retire under UC!
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