Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Lab workers press DOE for answers

ROGER SNODGRASS, roger@lamonitor.com, Monitor Assistant Editor

Current and retired employees of Los Alamos National Laboratory took their last chance to converse with the official in charge of the bidding process that will weigh heavily on their working conditions next year.

Tyler Przybylek, the chair of the Source Evaluation Board that will evaluate proposals for managing the laboratory contract, answered questions from nearly 200 people for more than two hours at a public meeting Sunday.

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3 Labs Rip Nuclear Program - ABQ Journal

http://www.abqjournal.com/north/361894north_news06-14-05.htm?tease
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What does it all mean? It sounds like big changes may be coming to
the weapons complex. The Stockpile Stewardship program helped keep
the labs afloat with funding during the last eight years. This report,
which comes directly from the defense labs, implies that it has been a
failure. Will the House now use this as ammunition to bring about
funding cuts which they have been wanting to implement?
 
To those current lab workers who believe the DOE and think they're safe from the reduced compensation and pension benefits of new hires -- GUESS AGAIN!

What do you think will happen within the first couple years of a new contractor?

Pay raises for everyone are based, in part, on your salary compared to your peer group. Once the group that you are being compared to starts to have reduced benefits and salary, you won't be getting much in annual raises. Expect 1% raises for the next 20 years.

Also consider what will happen as you move up the ladder. There won't be any more increases in pay with increasing responsibility if people outside the lab are being hired for the same jobs at substantially reduced compensation. There will also be significant incentive for the new contractor to hire people outside the lab over current employees so that the lab may reduce the “over-compensated” pool of grandfathered employees. Expect significant difficulty in obtaining promotions, no pay increase with promotions, and an increasing number of managers from outside LANL.

Then there's always the fact that the new contractor will be able to change benefits for everyone with only 60 days notice. If you’ve got 20 years or more left, the probability that this will happen within either the next 20 years or at the next bidding cycle is quite significant.

The bottom line: Don't be placated by the RFP's and DOE's assurances that only new employees will have reduced benefits and current employees will be protected. Eventually the reduction in benefits will catch up with EVERYONE!

Thus, all current employees should be fighting ferociously to protect compensation and pension benefits for ALL EMPLOYEES, both current and future.
 
Interesting example from the DOE civil servant/bean counter in charge of the mess that has become the LANL contracting process;

"He [Przybylek] gave as an example, "with no implications intended," a $50 million savings realized by Sandia Corp. [managed and operated by Lockheed Martin] by merging laboratories after assuming the contract to manage Sandia National Laboratories."

Looks like DOE has a definite future for LANL in mind - if LM is going to run both Sandia and Los Alamos, merging business/administrative operations makes complete sense to save money at both labs. I doubt Przybylek's example was all that extemporaneous. Too bad UC could never figure this business model out for its 3 labs (LANL, LLNL, and LBNL)... soon to be 2 labs (LLNL and LBNL).
 
There could be some huge cost savings associated with centralizing some
of the support work done at SNL and LANL. For example, there is no pressing
reason I can think of why SUP buyers need to be on-site here at LANL.
They could just as well be in ABQ, where most of the small companies serving
LANL are situated. Same goes for operations such as Travel. It, too could
be centralized with the SNL operations for cost savings. And, hopefully,
we could finally be rid of our Halliburton/KSL rip-off artists that have
bled this lab dry, and get some quality facilities management by using the
contractors now serving SNL. I'm looking forward to a possible merger of
LANL and SNL business operations. The benefits of combining the operations
at LANL and SNL would be good for both labs.
 
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