Wednesday, June 15, 2005

What do you think will happen?

From Anonymous:

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 grand-fathered 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.

Um, and what data do you have to support your prognostication?
This sounds a bit hysterical to me. Upon what do you base these dire predictions? Is this what happened when LM took over Sandia? I don't think you will find that Sandia staff have been getting just 1% raises since 1993. Is LANL somehow "special" again?
My hope is the the Los Alamos real estate market rebounds and we can restore, or increase, housing prices. When this happens, get ready for the real exodus!
Why does this nonsense deserve a top level post?
The Sandia RFP and LM contract with Sandia did not require a reduction in benefits (or market comparison) for new hires or a two-tier compensation and benefits system. This is unchartered territory for the DOE. Considering the draft RFP and statements by the DOE since, it is clear that the DOE wanted to reduce benefits for all employees. However, political forces intervened on current employee's behalf. That doesn't change DOE's underlying intention and goal of cutting LANL labor costs. Sooner or later they may be able to do it.

Given DOE's goals and all the turmoil surrounding LANL, what do the rest of you think will happen after the contract changes? Do you believe current employees will enjoy the same compensation and benefits that they currently have for the next 30 years or so?

I don't think LANL will ever be the same. I think we're headed towards being a pit manufacturing site or an extended environmental clean-up project. Any other thoughts?
To: 7:02PM

Because it was emailed in as a submission. Although I certainly don't agree with the point of view of all submissions, I do try publish them if they do not grossly violate the posting guidelines.

As addressed by Rep. Udall, I'm not sure how a stand-alone pension plan with only 8000 people will be able to survive. That's a concern of mine. I'm not sure about salaries and such, but I really don't trust DOE, either.
I sent in the original submission to Doug. I greatly appreciate him posting it.

These are concerns of mine as a current UC employee (with about 20 years before retirement). They are based on my perception of the direction that the DOE and lab has been moving in the recent past and a logical (or not) extrapolation of that path towards the future.

I sincerely hope my logic is faulty. The purpose of the post was to invite a lively discussion about the underlying assumptions of that logic and the future of the lab. There are many people in my situation that are weighing their options based on similar extrapolations of the future of LANL. Unfortunately for us, we must extrapolate 20 years out, instead of just 10 or 5 for the average LANL employee.

Some of you "old-timers", please let us know where you think LANL is headed. Will current employees still enjoy their current compensation and benefits 20 years from now?
My understanding and belief is that LANL salary averages are based on industry surveys of comparable job classifications. To the extent that my belief is true then there should be little-to-no affect on salaries with a change in management contractor UNLESS DOE changes its standards for salaries. Of course, employees will not come here if the compensation is not comparable to what they can obtain elsewhere.

Benefits may be another matter. I think that benefits have been crafted to fit LANL employees into the same plan that UC employees enjoy. In some ways the benefit programs may appear generous although there are always those who would be pleased with more or different benefits to fit their particular situation. The benefit packages have proven valuable in hiring the appropriate people in some cases since not everyone has New Mexico on their list of "most desirable" places to live.

The total compensation package includes both salary and benefits although each employee may weight the components differently at various points in their careers. The bottom line is that people will not come here if the package does not meet their needs.

I would hope that the work here is important enough that the combination of challenging work opportunities and adequate compensation will be designed to continue to attract bright and dedicated people.

I am a TSM retiree with 26 years at LANL of which nearly 15 were in management positions with personnel salary responsibilities.
I agree with the prior post that the arrival of a new contractor should have little effect on salaries, inasmuch as they are already based on surveys of comparable industries. However, the new contractor will have dramatic negative impact on benefits, primarily because UC benefits were so far above the comparables. I am a TSM with more than 10 years managerial experience.
What concerns me are the following excerpts from the LA Monitor story:

"A benefit-value study that had been floated in the draft Request for Proposal is no longer in play for current employees who continue into the new contract.

Such a study was almost certain to have sharply reduced pensions and benefits for current LANL employees, which are higher than average."

"'If the laboratory starts experiencing problems attracting qualified workers,' Archuleta said, 'a case may be made to adjust that.'"

It seems that based on the above excerpts, the DOE is very clear about it's intention to reduce benefits first and then see if they have trouble attracting people. I suspect you can always get someone to fill a spot, but attracting the best qualified employees requires the best benefits.

What is there to prevent the new contractor from eliminating the 2 tier system with just a 60 day notice (as specified in the RFP)?
The truth is unless you start to pay the minimum wage you will still attract some workers to the job. Of course, you have to cut your expectations, and this is how LANL will start its way down. This will be speeding up on the way. We have to fight this not only to safe our benefits, but also to protect the world class scientific institution from killing.
One of the posters notes that Sandia's experience with LM did not result in a 2 tier system..I can confirm it (my son works there). LM has actually been very good to him. It is true that LM has tried to institute a little reality on salary and benefits. Since LM has taken over, he has a better appreciation through contacts with other LM entities on working conditions, salary & benefits.

I've never worked at a National lab, I only have worked in various technical industry - defense, commercial aero and telecomm and the real world takes a lot more work guys to manage your money & retirement. And by the way there are LOTS of smart people in Industry who work just as hard and are just as smart as the folks at LANL.

I think the reality check for the SNL employees is good thing. When we visit him and meet friends from the lab, they seem far less whiny,out of touch with reality and impressed with themselves than most of the posters on this site.

Good luck to you all...I think you will need it.

Dad with son at SNL
To 10:55
How much talent does it take to hit a return button 3 or 4 times? I think there are a relatively small number of very prolific whiners.

I work in a science group with a great bunch of people, although I'm sure I would meet equally good people in industry.
Despite what DOE says, I don't see how the new contractor is going to be paid an additional $60 million without cutting staff and sharply reducing salary and benefits for all employees.

If it were UC that was the new contractor, I wouldn't worry about it because I know they would only take what they needed and would return the rest of the $60 million fee to the lab (as they have done for the last 60 years). LM, however, needs to appease it's stockholders primarily and that means they're going to hold onto the fee. That also means LANL employees get screwed.
UC is not bidding on the lab alone- UC/Bechtel will not be returning any fees...
On data or the lack of it

It is easy to criticize someone for not posting their data. I have lots of data for each of the posts that I have made but routinely do not publish the data.

My rationale is simple. On average, it would take me two weeks of my own time to get the data into peer reviewable form. It would take 20 seconds for someone to reject the data and its conclusions as 'foolish.' Given this expected response, I choose to share the data only with people who are willing to share data with me.

Some of the data that I would like to be stronger for myself is data on who joins Los Alamos as a new hire, how they rank in their current class of graduates nationwide, why they come and why they stay or do not stay.

I have a lot of anecdotal information on this (hundreds of people worth) but not a serious study. Does anyone have this data?
Many of the Labs work force who have never worked in the private industry are in for a big suprise. The real world is coming to town. Get ready, heads are going to roll and you will be working for profit. Don't you get it? The gravy train has left the station.

I really don't understand all the fuss since I worked in the private sector 25years. This place needs a revamping, it's run like a grade school. People need to live up to expectations and be accountable. No more will you be able to not come into work and not tell anyone.That's un-heard of in the real world but not here. Get it!
Yes, part of the problem at LANL is that it seems to have been living in a world of its own, remote from the "real world" the rest of us live in. In the real world, benefits are less (meaning the individual has to take more responsibility for planning his/her retirement), job discipline is tighter, there are real deadlines and real customers to serve and real penelties for missing schedules or blowing budgets or messing up a project.

I can appreciate that LANL old-timers are sorry to see their pleasent sandlot dissappear, but real life does have a way of eventually catching up with us, and that is all that is happening here. I suspect you will find that some things will now be worse, some will now be better, and on balance you will still be among the luckiest, highest paid, best treated workers in the world. Try working a factory job or flipping hamburgers at McD's for a bit if you don't believe this.
If you can find someone from the old Zia Company days ask them what happens when a change of contract occurs. At first only management faces change and new hires are compensated less, then gradually the entire workforce is affected, gradually means only about 3-4 years. LANL--UC decided to take the Zia contract away (and damn the personnel affected) and we are not stuck with KSL, is this better? What goes around comes around. Good luck you will need it.
I think there is a need for someone to take a serious look at salaries here. The age old practice of allowing ex-managers to keep their high salaries after they have been removed or have stepped down from the positions for which they were being paid, and allowing TSM pay and positions to be filled by folks who’s degree has nothing to do with the advertised position need to be addressed. I would like to experience more of a corporate atmosphere where hard work and dedication is rewarded instead of the current reward system based on your ability to BS. I also think its time to overhaul the current salary system.
6/16/2005 12:02:24 PM
To the anonymous blogger who said, " I would like to experience more of a corporate atmosphere where hard work and dedication is rewarded instead of the current reward system based on your ability to BS," I draw your attention to the front page of today's (Sunday, June 19) New York Times where an article goes into detail about how former CEOs on trial for stealing from their companies try to BS juries. Tyco's former CEO, Dennis Kozlowski, convicted for grand larceny and consipiracy, stole $150 million plus $430 million in illegally sold shares. Bernard J. Ebbers, former CEO of WordCom is serving time for accounting fraud, and John J. Rigas, former head of Adelphia Communications was convicted on charges of conspiring to "loot the company." All of them have tried to convince juries that they were "fumblers, sloppy with their paperwork and unaware of crimes in their midst -- yet still deserving of their gargantuan paychecks." Let's not glorify the corporate world.
Good point Susanna; all organizations have people and when people are involved there will always be issues of personal integrity. Engineered checks and balances are a good start but people without integrity can always find a way to get around the system.
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