Monday, May 30, 2005

I know many of you are anti union

Whatever you think of Richardson, one thing he said rang true to me .... mobilize, organize....storm offices (well maybe not storm offices :-).
I see posts on the blog suggesting that maybe we, the employees (and retirees) could use some legal help. That is unless you think that the legal teams of UC, Bechtol, and Lockheed have the best interests of employees and retirees in mind.
Right now, given the short time frame, the only employee organization that COULD represent employees is UPTE.
I know many of you are anti union, anti UPTE, anti who is in UPTE, anti some of the stuff reported that UPTE officers have supposed to have said. And if Lockheed gets the contract,although the right to organize will remain, UPTE most probably goes away. But right now, UPTE is what we got. And the more of you who join, the more the flavor of the organization changes and becomes yours. An UPTE of the present. An organization that could provide legal assistance, address some of the vague parts of the RFP, represent employee interests.
As a former President of UPTE, I know the potential is there.
I am also exploring the possibility of other types of employee advocacy groups that could represent different Lab series employees, but we are kind of all in this together. I guess my roots are showing.
Sue Chasen

Some of this is being repeated. This post was originally put in the 'Richardson' section. A couple of folks asked how many in UPTE. My reply is that
I am not an officer of UPTE now and have not been on the board for over 2 years. In fact I have been a very INACTIVE member.Ihave no acesstothat number. HOWEVER, first thing Tuesday, I will ask the board their feelings on revealing that number.
But it seems to me that it is not so important how many members the organization has now, but how many it COULD in two weeks, a month.
My message is that UPTE is the only mechanism in place that we have to organize around. If how many members it has NOW is the deciding factor...then ....maybe however I am missing something.

I would also welcome discussion here on the pros and cons of organizing. If the American Association of University Professors were to establish a chapter here, after all we are a 'campus' would TSMs be more inclined to join that? What would that do for SSMs, Techs. Admins?

If you dont like unions and or UPTE, that's fine, but please dont put words in my mouth.

My points are simple:
1: I think we should organize
2: UPTE is an EXISTING mechanism
3: There may be other mechanisms

What Manny Trujillo, the current president of UPTE might have said or not said is not in the whole scheme of things an issue with me. I have no idea about that How many current members is not important to me. Obviously both these things are important to some of you. If those things prevent you from using the existing tool and maybe molding it into something better,fine. If you dont want to discuss/debate other potential tools...fine.
I am only suggesting options. If you are going to slam me for this...I guess all I can do is wish you good luck.

There were already some statements on the blog about need of lawyers to help us figure out what is in RFP, and what are our options. Do these people think everybody should hire her/his own lawyer? I do not think so. All this is much more efficiently done, for example, through unions, or other organization. On the other hand, luck of guts to say how big is LANL UPTE gets on my nerves. Spit it out, please.
I would say that there are less than 50 members of UPTE. I know some of them and the ones I do know are nothing but complainers and people that need to get a life and go out in the real world and get a job.
I have been watching the RFP/contract process closely for months and made huge efforts to get information out to LANL people regarding the changes looming ahead. Many of you may have gotten copies of my RFP letters or seen them in the local papers. The initial January campaign of letter writing succeeded fairly well and we got several employee-positive concessions into the final RFP.

The ball is now in our court. What voice do you have? Who do you think is watching out for you, the employee/ retiree, in this bidding process? DOE/NNSA?? UC?? Lockheed/UT?? Congress?? They each have their own take and agenda regarding the 2 Billion dollar LANL contract. Governor Richardson was correct that LANL employees need to organize.

You might say that all you care about is your benefits and pension funds, and that you want to be allowed to do your LANL job in peace. Well, I have read the final RFP. I am telling you we need a legal voice, a seat at the table. The contracts being written in the next year affect the next 7-20 years of business at LANL. We, the employees, need a contract law lawyer looking at these documents from the employee’s point of view. Several of us have looked into this and the ONLY way we get a (legally–recognized) seat at the table is to organize. NOW. (The government calls all employee associations ‘unions’, regardless of their scope.) We can’t wait to see if these other entities come up with plans that work for us.

So, we don’t care what this organization is called. We are NOT talking about getting anything voted in to ‘represent’ all employees. We need 300 visionaries to join UPTE now- (Disclaimer- I am not a member and have never been to an UPTE meeting.) We need to ‘borrow’ the UPTE framework and utilize it for one year to create a legal employee voice for this contract.

Mainly, because it is in already place with a legal charter. Saves us time and doesn’t create 2 competing organizations. Sandia has always had a local employee association.

What if I don’t want UPTE to represent me?
This is just an employee association; to participate in the LANL contract. This organization will not negotiate wages, benefits, seniority, etc.

What about the vote in process with 50% of employees participating?
We are NOT going to do this. (no vote, no 50%) But an employee association still has the ability to have a lawyer.

Why do you need 300 people?
80-20 rule. 80% of the work is done by 20% of the people. It is a big enough number to be heard in the contract negotiation. And, unfortunately, many people will not see the need to join such an association. (until it is too late.)

Doesn’t UPTE have dues?
Yes – we need the money to hire the contract lawyer.

What will this association do?
Mostly, try to preserve the UC pension money. UC has LANL money- Legally it can keep everything above that required by law. Another problem is that the new entity may be able to borrow against the pension, unless we get rules in writing. And what pays you if the limited liability company goes bankrupt? We DO NOT want to be like United Air. The bottom line is- there is a large amount of money here- and we want to rules to preserve it written in stone?

Why should I join and pay money to preserve the pension for others?
Well- if this saves you thousands of dollars in the future, it is worth it.

Debbie Clark
The answer is- UPTE is too small. We need 300 new members right away to save our pension (money). With 300 new members UPTE becomes a force, a player in the new LANL contract. Can't you all see this??
We are not all anti-Union. What many of are, however, is anti-UPTE. Just name the officers, past and present, among them Manny Trujillo and Chuck Montano. For UPTE to make any progress in organizing, there will have to be a total purge of the existing officers.
As the anonymous attacks have started, I urge each and every one of you who ARE UPTE members to put your names out here.

For those of you who continue to make the actual numbers of current members an issue here, the following is the best I can do for you. But I doubt this will stop you, as you can attack us individually as one anonymous did as "complainers and people that need to get a life and go out in the real world and get a job."

When I left the presidency of UPTE 2 years ago there were 127 members. I would hope that there are many more by now. But of course some of our most dedicated and outspoken members have retired, however....with more to follow.

Let's talk a little about courage. Management knows each and every member of UPTE. Maybe the numbers are 'small' but that is in the eye of the beholder. Each and every person who has joined so far was willing to take a chance of being 'retaliated' against.

Although they've sometimes betrayed their promise, unions give those of us who are ordinary workers our best chance at a genuine say, with security grounded in more than employer benevolence. They can protect us against capricious managment decisions-for instance, against being fired for voicing discomforting truths. If we're in a union, employers find it harder to play us off one against another, as expendable pawns. In a way all too rare in our cynical time, unions build solidarity, a sense of common purpose.

Both Robert Oppenheimer and Albert Einstein were strong union supporters. The Manhattan project scientists joined together as the Union of Los Alamos scientists, to prevent the military from controlling us, hence the AEC. Einstein wrote extensively about the need for "intellectual workers to join together to protect intellectual freedom.'
It is hard to live with conviction in a cynical time.
Sue (Goff) Chasen
TSM, former Program manager and former Group Leader
There are many many more of us than Manny, Chuck and Betty. Give them credit for getting it going. But join, and make it OUR union.
The original post states: "if Lockheed gets the contract,although the right to organize will remain, UPTE most probably goes away."

Sounds like we need to hope for Lockheed!
There may be many more in UPTE than Manny, Chuck, and Betty, but UPTE has chosen to put them in charge. I think that says it all!
We desperately need access to an employee association right now. One with LEGAL standing. If you don't like UPTE, let's create a new one- anything you want, with whoever you trust as officers.

But 300 people can make a difference here- we can make sure our pension funds are correctly transferred and locked up tightly. Read the RFP - it guarantees our pension 'factors' BUT NOT THE FUNDS TO PAY IT. Trust me, we will have a much easier time affecting the contract now than suing later.

You read me wrong. There are many more LANL EMPLOYEES than Manny and Chuck and Betty. Since Sue provided us with her understanding of how many UPTE members there are, it is easy to do the math and see how easy it is to make UPTE something you want it to be.
I can see your point, a lot of new people in a small organization could really change things. Maybe we do need a group.
With all the cynics in Los Alamos where are you going to find 300 who will first join something and second put out time and money? 100 might be a stretch.
4:56 is right- We need a way to find those 300 or so people. It won't be useful for 25 to start a new association here or there. (or join an existing org.)

I would be glad to keep a private list of names of those who are willing to join an RFP-based employee association on the condition we get enough others. If this describes you, email me djclark225 @ hotmaildotcom or call. I’m in the book.

Debbie Clark
Notice- Now that the final RFP has been issued, the 'Coalition for LANL Excellence' will sponsor a
meeting on Sunday June 12 at Smith Auditorium. We will discuss
'where do we go from here' and will be especially interested in
hearing comments and questions from current employees.

A representative from DOE will attend.
To mount an even somewhat effective legal assault might cost in the neighborhood of $200,000. The NNSA/DOE/other enities will try to stonewall us, cause delay, wear us down, and deplete our resources; using the same tactics they use against individuals who sue them.

Maybe we could at least get a restraining order; to give people more time to make decisions, and discover more of the true underlying reasons behind what is actually being done.

The question is if their are enough people willing to commit money. There needs to be some combination of either 200 people putting in $1000 each, or 1000 people putting in $200 each. It is still a lot cheaper than filing an individual lawsuit. But, to put up this kind of money, we would have to be assured that their is at least a good probability of getting results.
Unfortunately UPTE has failed to represent the MINORITY (yes) that, under the current system, is the most ignored and discriminated against: The White Middle-Aged Male. (with demonstrated skills, and a demonstrated work history) This group has no one to represent them, and no recourse.

We need a new entity to represent the interests of ALL lab employees.
The previous comment is correct: the white middle-aged (and older) Anglo is not represented by UPTE or any other local organization.
I, for one, do not want to be a member of, nor have it speak supposedly on my behalf, an organization whose past leaders have less credibility than do the LANL upper-level managers we complain about in this blog. Trujillo, Montano, and company, past and present, simply did not, and do not, represent ALL LANL employees. People who espouse the belief that LANL's problems are mostly the result of racial bias (i.e., Anglo TSMs discriminating against all others) are mighty ignorant, and may themselves be guilty of racial or ethnic bias. I want no part of such an outfit.
There's good racial discrimination and bad racial discrimination. Good racial discrimination is called "Afirmative Action" and is Government policy. Were it not for good racial discrimination, there would be far too many (in UC's eyes) asian students on UC campuses and not enough blacks and latinos. Good racial discrimination is Manny Aragon's New Mexico Highlands University - no one other than Chicanos need apply.

As a Government contractor, LANL is forced to monitor it's progress against AA/EEOC goals and practice good racial (and sexual orientation) discrimination. That's the Golden Rule.
Wow, we propose an employee association to assure EVERYONE'S pension funds and you all turn it into a discussion of race!! Well, anyone is welcome in this association- even those with strong opinions.

Personally I would relish an opportunity to be heard during this contract negotiation- so hope enough others out there can see the sense of organizing.
In response to 5/31/2005 10:02:26 AM:

A lawsuit may not be the way to go. After the 1995 layoff, they spent more than one million dollars PER PLAINTIFF defending themselves against the 5 laid-off employees being represented by Carol Oppenheimer. They will laugh at your puny $200,000, if we could even find enough committed people to raise that much.

What finally got to them, was when the media started revealing how much money they were spending to defend themselves - much more than what they could have settled for.

To hit them where it hurts, what we need to do is start a publicity campaign. The more we can embarrass them and bring things out into the light of day, the better. This needs to be very carefully thought out, and the targets and audience carefully selected. A top-notch professional PR consultant should be retained. The more we can get our side of the story out to the media, the better.

And don’t forget, the 2006 elections are getting closer. Some of them may be venerable. Even if the bidding process is completed before the elections are underway; we can still hold some of them accountable in 2006
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