Sunday, May 08, 2005

Power Equals Responsibility

Douglas,

You guys and gals have done great work and I congratulate you on your success. I posted about you and your blog a second time here. If you get a chance I'd like you to read it. http://agonist.org/story/2005/5/8/201835/7126

Best wishes for the future.

Sean-Paul Kelley
Editor
The Agonist
www.agonist.org

_______________________________________________
Power Equals Responsibility
Sean-Paul Kelley | San Antonio | May 8

The Agonist - I've followed this story pretty closely over the last few weeks, even checking in at the blog from time to time. There is no question that this dedicated and patriotic group of employees utilized the power and anonymity of blogging to lay Nanos low. Everything I know about Nanos indicates he deserved what he got, too. It warms my heart to see these employees, honorable and partiotic lot that they are, actually made Los Alamos a better place.

All that being said, I worry that a more unscrupulous group of folks might someday soon attempt to do the same thing to someone else, someone utterly unlike Nanos. Perhaps a small clique of disgruntled employees who dislike a very effective and honorable boss will begin a whispering campaign of slander and libel. If (when) that happens, I promise it'll create an environment whereby managers cannot make any hard decisions and organizations will be run by people walking around on eggshells. How is something like this to be prevented?

Look, I'm not criticizing the folks at Los Alamos. What they did needed to be done. But I do fear they've opened a Pandora's box to people with less integrity and dishonorable intentions. And as much as I love blogging, it needs to be used responsibly, as the vast, vast majority of bloggers have used it. I'm just pointing out the obvious here. Any thoughts?


Comments:
Here's another title for you:

Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely

The use of blogs as a weapon of revenge is bound to happen sooner or later. If it happens in private industry, it'll probably be the courts that decide the outcome.
 
Doug:

I applaud you for the personal risk you've taken to secure a better future for LANL. You are a true LANL hero in my book. However, I strongly recommend that you shut the blog down. Its mission has been accomplished and its story will forever be a part of U.S. history. Please understand, though, that LM is not UC. If LM takes over, they would have no problem first firing you and then suing you for everything you're worth to shut this blog down. $60 million is a lot of incentive for a private company with traditionally risk-aggressive industrial executives running the show. Remember, they don't have to win a lawsuit, they only have to bankrupt you. You must weigh the future benefits of this blog agains the potential financial risk to you and your family. I wish the best.
 
Don't shut the blog down now. It's work has just started. The problem was/is DOE, not Nanos. Let's find out the details why there had to be an all-hands meeting last Wednesday on electrical safety. My understanding is it was something like this: Somebody at DOE sees a few numbers that relate to electrical "events." The numbers seem to be increasing. A letter is written and Bodman signs it. Local DOE bureaucrats are told they'll be held personally responsible for any "event" that occurs at their site(s). So, a local bureaucrat sends a letter to Nanos telling him he has a week to "do something" or parts of the lab will be shut down. Result: 8000 people do nothing for 2 hours and Nanos gets to take some heat, deservedly, for insulting electricians. Can anyone supply details? Nanos said at the beginning of the meeting that the Bodman letter was available for anyone who wanted to see it. Can somone supply a link to it? And the letter from local DOE to Nanos?
 
I'm not shutting the blog down. We still have many problems at LANL that the blog can focus on, and perhaps help management identify and repair. UC has not done much right lately, but one thing I do give them credit for was not attempting to shut this blog down. If LM has a different policy regarding employee-operated blogs, then I will reassess at that time.

--Doug
 
Dear Doug and blog commenters,

I want to congratulate you all on your courage and dedication. I'm not worried at all about the abuse of the blog as a weapon of revenge against management.

I think things have to get pretty bad before workers organize something like this -- which has been an inspiration to anyone who has lived and worked under capricious, tyrannical and incompetent bosses.
 
Dear 5/8/2005 11:48:26 PM:

Please read the National Labor Relations Act, Section 7, which protects "concerted activities" by employees seeking redress of problems in the workplace. Lockheed Martin has no interest in violating provisions and proscriptions of this act.
 
As a longstanding LM employee, I think I can assure you LM will not prosecute useful, constructive criticism, because it helps the company and the lab do better (be more competative, make more profit, etc.) They may have some heartburn with vicious personal attacks unsupported by evidence, but these shouldn't be in the blog anyway.
 
Precedence for the National Labor Relations Act has not yet been established for online web logs (blogs). That will require a full court case and judiciary verdict with appeal. Doug or any other private individual would easily be overcome with legal expenses well before a verdict was ever reached.

Furthermore, there is a strong current legal precedence for private industry having the right to protect their name from harm done by web logs controlled by their employees. Many employees have been fired without warning for privately run blogs.

That being said, I think Doug's approach may be the best at this time. He should just be ready to pull the plug as soon as it becomes apparent that LM (or other new contractor) might be opposed to its employees running a public blog.
 
You talk as if LM had the contract sewed up! If it is so clear that they should be running LANL, then why even have a competition? I wish to thank Sean-Paul Kelley for his words about the bloggers. For the most part, I feel that postings are made with respect and integrity, and it is good to see that someone out there recognizes this. I have seen little evidence of groussing, whining, or any of the other words that have been used to try to discredit the bloggers, free speach and venting are better descriptions.

LANL has serious problems with respect to its employees, typified by the treatment of Todd Kaupilla that resulted in the tremendous stress that cost him his life. Tony Andrade too? No one knows. How many others are out there that only time will tell us? I recently joined UPTE because I have a desire to see the LANL Good Old Boy/Girl network brought to its knees. I don't know that UPTE is up to the task, and they are taking on UC too, so the challenge is great, but what else is there? Can't we turn UPTE into the union we want, rather than reinventing the wheel?

How do we fix the LANL problem(s) now that the primary source of the stress is leaving?

I suggest we turn this blog into a focus on LANL improvement. Can we put together a more comprehensive improvement plan with the courage and insight of this large group of employees? We have a list of the things that LANL doesn't do well, can we get together a list of good steps to move forward in a positive way? It is clear to me that we are almost buried in bureaucracy and are sinking fast, but is it really too late? Can we take the efficiency project that Nanos has started and make it really be an efficiency project?

LANL scientists, in my opinion, resist safety and security activities because they are done so poorly, have little relevance to safety and security, and waste huge amounts of valuable time (how many 60-hour weeks can one work in a week?). After we get done with the training (useless) and the other bureaucratic requirements (read: nonsense), how much time is left to actually do experimental science? Or to bring in next year's funding for that matter?

If we don't get an organized voice in this contract competition, and get a seat at the table, then we deserve what we get, and it won't be pretty. Not only will we bring down LANL, but every business, school and real estate agency in Los Alamos will lose as the place turns into a ghost town as one blogger has already said.

Not quite brave enough to sign my name, but high on LANL and the blog!
 
Have you noticed how many people are here from rf. Need to get working, guys and gals. They are asking the questions! Be SMART about it..
 
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