Wednesday, June 08, 2005

NNSA director and DOE Source Evaluation Board chair to address employees

From the LANL NewsBulletin

June 8, 2005

Linton Brooks, National Nuclear Security Administration director, and Tyler Przyblek, chair of the Department of Energy's Source Evaluation Board, will hold an all-hands meeting from 12:30 to 2 p.m. Friday, in the Administration Building Auditorium at Technical Area 3. The talk is open to all Laboratory workers with access to the Administration Building Auditorium and will be shown on LABNET Channel 9. It also can be watched on desktop computers using Real Media and IPTV technology. A call-in number will be set up; check Friday's Daily Newsbulletin for that number.

Is panic setting in? Does Brooks realize that the LLC is a great solution for corporate America, but a terrible loss for employees? Does Brooks realize that many people are retiring out of disgust for the whole situation, and not because it is the most lucrative financial step (it is not, unless you planned to retire at this time anyway)?
Maybe Linton wants to tell us again about how he "fully suported" Nanos' decision to shut LANL down last July.
The most important thing that Brooks can tell us is that they have signed the interim contract with UC and that employees are covered UNDER UC until Jun 2006. Otherwise people will bail out because they are afraid of getting trapped between contracts...
To the poster at 6:45.
You are obsessing on the last problem (You may have been on asleep here, but that one was solved.)

We have new problems - like the LANL operating contract- to focus on at this meeting. What is it going to be like to work at LANL 5 years from now? Can science exist next to a pit facility? Are we going to see Limited Liability Corps come and go every 7 years? How is your pension protected from raiding?

This is going to be the greatest change LANL has ever seen- please show up and participate. But let's get some current issues on the table.
To 7:09 --

Obsessing? Perhaps, but it would be good advice for us all to remember that Linton Brooks is not our friend, and that he has clearly demonstrated that he does not have our best interests in mind. He and Nanos were complicit in orchestrating the fiasco of last year, and Brooks was an active participant in the atempts to cover up the faulty reasoning behind the shutdown.

Nanos is gone, but Brooks is still here.
You can't get rid of everyone in the government you don't like.
DOE is bidding out LANL and you, the employees, are being sold with the farm. You really should focus on getting employee positive language and mechanisims into the operating contract. If we fail at this LANL will be a miserable place for the next 20 years.

You need:
A signed contract extension.
An explanation of the 3 new types of employees.
Information on which type employee you should become in this change.
Pension lock boxes.
Explanation of how you earn healthcare coverage for retirement under this change.
An explanation of benefits changes.

These issues are REALLY IMPORTANT. Show up and focus on those things which you have a chance of affecting.
Agree with 07:00:47 AM: the extension can't be an oral "guarantee", it has to be in writing and legally guarantee the ability to retire during the "extension period" with benefits identical to retiring under the current UC contract. If not, there will be a second wave of retirements come end of September, me included. Write your congressman, senators, and Richardson to apply pressure to DOE/UC to back up empty words with real guarantees.
LANL used up its good will with the senators-they are a little burned out on LANL. If you write, focus on the things you can change.

But you really should join an employee association, such associations have rights written into US Law. This type association can ask for language regarding employee issues to be added to the final contract. Together, you have much more power than alone.

Go to these DOE employee meetings- show that you care. Seek out others who are willing to work on this contract change and make it better for yourselves, and the next generation of LANL workers..
07:34:03 AM said it well! Also, 07:34:49 AM is right on the mark; if there is not a signed contract extension continuing ALL UC benefits September 30 will present a bigger wave of people leaving due to all the uncertainties. A prime question to ask would be clarification on how a "Transferring" employee has 6 months AFTER 6/1/2006 to make a decision [see RFP H-36,(a),(2),(i)]. This section of the RFP directly conflicts with the NNSA Fact Sheet on the same site that says "May 31, 2006 Transition period ends". This meeting will be a great opportunity to get additional information critical to the future of LANL and its employees; let's make the most of it.
6/8/2005 07:48:07 AM
You sound like a union rep. to me, can you tell us how many LANL employees are dues paying members of UPTE?
To 6/8/2005 10:14:52 AM: Enough already with the SICK obsession over the number of dues-paying members of UPTE! If all they have is one dues-paying member they are still the only organization with any LEGAL mechanism to request changes to the RFP or the contract. If you're happy with the RFP the way it is you can ignore UPTE. If you want any input on changes it would be wise to join them so you will have a voice. If you don't like the way that UPTE operates, then get a bunch of people who feel like you do to join the organization and change it. I have seen that happen before with other unions. It's up to you to do something besides whine about it!

A (thank God!) retired LANL TSM who is very glad that he doesn't have to deal with the congenital idiots installed at LANL by the clueless incompetents at UCOP as well as the malevolent idiots (retired admirals especially) at NNSA and DOE.
Dear 6/8/2005 12:00:04 PM,

There is another organization that is not a union, but one that is very concerned about the impact of the RFP on current, retired, and future employees, as well as the community...Coalition for LANL Excellence (CLE). The organization is nonpartisian and focused on the common goal - to better understand and prepare for what is coming down the railroad tracks, whether anyone likes it or not. Please come to the meeting on Sunday (June 12), Dwyane Smith Auditorium from 2 - 4. There will be hard questions asked, many of which DOE, NNSA, and others have probably not even considered. Yes, it would be nice to hear from Tyler that the extension of the current contract has been signed. And, CLE will be conducting an anonymous survey. Fill it out and let CLE know what your concerns are...I, for one, am looking to get a handle on what folks are thinking.
All I would like to him say is,
" we are bringing back the 9-80's since we know how important it is to bring some morale back to the lab." Then he can get in his big black car and hit the road. Who cares what else he has to say. He is just another Bagdad Bob like Foley and all the other cronies running this lab.
If anyone is planning to publicly ask about daycare or 9/80 again, please don't. Los Alamos employees have appeared as entitlement-idiots during previous Q&A sessions with our leaders.

As for continuation of UC management before the new LLC kicks in, a big key is that continued specific UCRS coverage needs to be contractually committed for the employees during the time of the necessary contract extension.

Will also the specific UCRS coverage be extended even further to the end of the proposed six-month transition/decision period?

If UCRS is really gone after Sept 30th, there really are no other options for quite a number of people.
In fact 9/80 became already a symbol of bad treatment of employees for the sake of it, so I am not sure if it should not be asked. On the other hand child care became a symbol of stonewalling real questions from within LANL employees. I would boo such idiotic questions.
To 10:14:
I wrote the post you referred to, and I am not nor ever have been involved in a union. Therefore I cannot answer your incessant question. I was suggesting that those of us willing to work become an ASSOCIATION. 300-400 people would be a useful number.

There are many types of employee associations. We could create one here with the express purpose of watching out for LANL employee interests during the contract change. The association would have volunteers and perhaps hire a corporate law attorney. After the new LANL contract is implemented, the group could be disbanded.

P.s. You need a different hobby...
Let me second the posters regarding questions for Brooks and Tyler P.

Please DON’T ask about 9/80, childcare, or parking and office spaces. These are seen by DOE as internal issues- and they are not written into the LANL operating contract.

The issues that these guys can comment on are:
1. Pension issues- Where your money resides, how it is protected, how it transfers.
2. Employee transfers to the new Limited Liability Corp. What are the options and how they affect you.
3. ‘Substantially equivalent’- what does this mean?
4. Signed UC contract extension- When will we see it?

Our time with the DOE reps is very limited- please DO ask any question that is under their domain.
Please add the following to the list.

5. Will retiress continue to have their health care provided under the contract and do the contracts with LLNL and LBL cover their retiree health care or does UC provide it?
Well, I must confess I would really rather not see more questions asked about our self-interest. For one thing, it just looks terrible, given what a mess we are in, for people to stand up and appear to be so selfish. Sorry, I know that is not what you intend, but it is how you appear.

They know we care about 9/80, pensions, child care, and so on. They know it, but they don't care about it, and will not do anything about it. In some cases, they may not be able to.

You need to hit them where it matters. It seems to me the important questions all revolve around whether the Lab is going to be a Lab or a manufacturing facility. How are they going to guarantee, given the losses we have sustained and are sustaining, that we can continue to be a science lab?

Things I think you could ask:
1) We have seen substantial disagreement on the statistics regarding safety and security. Would you, Linton Brooks, be willing to create a committee to investigate this matter, and come to conclusions? To ensure that the comittee is credible, would you be willing to put trusted LANL science staff on this committee, said staff to be chosen by TSMs, NOT MANAGEMENT or NNSA? If you agree to this committee, please provide a time table for implementation, verbally now and in writing by COB tomorrow.

2) We have had a death in our LANL family this year. A substantial number of employees feel this death was due to the actions of LANL management. If this death had occurred on the job, you doubtless would have convened a Board of Inquiry to determine cause and recommend changes. Will you follow this same course of action for Todd? If you agree to this investigation, please provide a time table for implementation, verbally now and in writing by COB tomorrow.

3) What plans do you have in mind to deal with our current brain drain? To what do you attribute the causes of the brain drain? What can you say to help alleviate the situation?

4) The current strategy of the Lab, when confronted with a lawsuit involving a terminated employee, is to financially bleed that person to death through delaying actions and other legal tricks. These actions have a negative impact on retention and recruiting, as well as morale at the lab. Would you consider allowing the Lab to engage in binding arbitration with employees when such disagreements arise? Why or why not?

If there is a problem here, let's hear what he thinks it is. Don't put words in his mouth. I'm curious to hear what he thinks is going on -- my guess is that he has no clue.

I think that people have personal concerns, and that is fine. But I also know that people are going through agony as they watch what Nanos and NNSA have done to this Lab; how a great national resource is being pushed to the edge of destruction. I think we should be focusing on that larger problem at this point.

Another Nameless TSM
I agree with many things stated in the posts. In particular no questions about internal policies should be asked at the meeting. However, my first and the most important question to Brooks would be what is long term strategy for scientific research at LANL? With details, not just garbage that they care about it. How they see research at LANL in a year, two, five, ten? What will be priorities? Is there a place for basic research at LANL? Of course, next question is whom they want to realize these long term goals with? It means how they see recruitment, retaining apparently massively retiring staff, the role of LDRD, foreigners, association with academia? Wise answer may slow down the wave of retirements, another nonsense may speed it up to unstoppable rate.
I'll not let my UCRP savings be transfered to an LLC, so I'll become an inactive member on the last day of the contract which stands at 9/30/05.
To 10:53:27 PM

This morning I have been editing such a question to ask Dr. Pryzbylek on Sunday.
Lets add another question to ask at Friday's meeting: Does NNSA/DOE plan to take into account the publicly announced underfunded pension plan that LockMart has when considering the proposals? Is the new LLC seen as a partial bail out for the underfunded plans of LockMart as a whole, or will ours be "fenced"?
To 6:37: Good point- we need our pension monies separate. 39% of the pension accounts across the country are underfunded. I can't make the Friday meeting- hopefully you will go and ask that very question. I will try to ask it on Sunday if I don't hear it from someone else, just to make a point to Tyler P.
No problem, they will separate the pension accounts, then apply the ben val study and scrape off what, 60% is the number I've heard?

Here is a question for Mr. Brooks.

1. Would you please explain to me how the Benefits Evaluations (rfp - h36-d-6) 105% cap works, if it applies to both pension plans, and who gets the excess money?
I am so glad to see people really paying attention to the RFP- IT is going to affect life in Los Alamos for the next 20 years- We need to concentrate on this contract, or we may not recognize the LANL of the future.
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