Sunday, August 21, 2005

Pension Rights: What the Rest of the Complex is Experiencing

LANL employee are obviously worried about the impending contract change,
and with good reason. The lab has remained isolated from the game of
musical chairs that AEC/ERDA/DOE has played with site contracts across
the complex, but now it may be your turn in the barrel. Perhaps my
experience will be illustrative of what to expect. I hired in at the
Pacific Northwest Lab in Richland in the spring of 1974, managed at the
time by Battelle for the AEC. Due to down turns at Hanford in 1988 with
the decision not to restart N-Reactor, my wife and I (a metallurgist)
went to Savannah River. I went from working on the new production
reactor program at Hanford, to working in the physics group at Savannah
River Lab on exactly the same project. Our clearances transferred of
course, but absolutely no time in service. The integrated contract at
Hanford allowed for transfers between Battelle, Westinghouse, Rockwell,
and United Nuclear at Hanford, but no such provisions were ever written
for between-site transfers. I can tell you from experience that a
deferred pension with no COL adjustment rapidly degrades to the value of
doodly-squat over the years. If you think the DOE or contract teams
have remedied this situation in the last 17 years, think again. The
cost savings associated with terminating pension rights are just too
tempting and easy to cut. Case in point - the new contract at Idaho
National Laboratory. The parent company to Westinghouse Savannah River
Company (Washington Group International) teamed up with Battelle. A
number of our colleagues have been tapped to move west. Unfortunately,
WGI has announced that they will only maintain continuity of benefits
for majority owned' affiliates. And guess what? WGI is only a 49%
partner in the new INL contract. All those lucky folks that get to
experience the beauty and grandeur of Idaho get to do so with deferred
pensions from SRS, or an actual pension if they quality. Of course at
SRS, the pension formula uses 0.012 times years of service, with a 50%
vesting factor only after 15 years, going to 1.0 when age and years of
service reach 85. If I were to get tapped, my total pension after 30
years of service split between PNL and SRL would amount to ~13% of my
current salary, forever frozen in 2005 dollars. So instead of worrying
about loosing your COL, I suggest that is not the half of your worries
if UC leaves and some hungry contractor comes to town. With ~15,000
already laid off from SRS, and thousands more from Rocky, Mound, and
Fernald, the contractors have simply used this as an opportunity to pick
up decades of expertise at bargain prices. I now work with individuals
with split pensions from Rocky Flats, Mound, and PNL, all trying to make
enough to save for a decent retirement. DOE has talked about the
benefits of portable pensions for years, but frankly there is no
down-side from their perspective to treating us like so many migrant
nuclear workers. Highly educated, and highly skilled in the arts of
nuclear materials production, separation, use, storage, etc., but
frankly who else is going to pay these salaries for our specialized
skills? I always assumed that DOE would come to its collective senses
and realize that this is simply gutting the chances for attracting the
next generation of talent into the complex. They talk the talk, but the
bottom line is dollars. It is simply easier to rob thousands of the
chance for a meaningful pension, and allow contractors to shuffle us
hither and yon across the complex. Expect a separate 'cleanup'
contract, with worker's professional careers channeled into a backwater
of alphabet soup contractors, with pension benefits subdivided and
isolated at each hand-off. Good Luck, and God Bless.

Signed, Been There, Done That

Comments:
I wonder if "transferring" people between LANL and SNL if/when LM/UT takes over will be a way to reduce pension and excess personnel. I am sure there are people who would not want to move and thus retire or go elsewhere, and people who would lose pension $ if they transferred...
 
The interesting thing about this is that the LANL (UCRS) pension fund has been "self-funded" for over 20 years. Nobody (UC, DOE, or the LANL employees) have made a contribution in the time. In fact, the fund has been sufficiently overfunded on occasion that there have been disbursements to separate employee pension accounts.

The vesting at SRS described in the original post is scandalous. LANL employees are fully vested in UCRS after five years. The UCRS retirement handbook can be found at:

http://atyourservice.ucop.edu/forms_pubs/misc/retirebook.pdf
 
Sure glad to be retired.

I got mine.

Hope that you get yours.
 
My niece is a jounalist with the Washington Post. She recently wrote an article on WGI. Are they not in dire financial straights, if not going broke?
 
This constant change, in contractors is called outsourcing, a high priority for Republican candidates. If you like it, you should vote Republican.
 
12:29,

And blaming Republicans for the whims of DOE procurement is called partisan STUPIDITY. If you got out of party (democratic) headquarters once in a while you might have noticed that GOCO contractor changeout has been going on since the Reagan administration regardless of who happens to be living on Pennsylvania Avenue. It might also surprise you to learn that the we-bees (Washington-based career civil servants --- we be here before you; we be here long after you're gone) responsible for the nuts and bolts of these contracting decisions generally don't act very rapidly on what the chief executive or congress want --instead they are attracted to whatever makes it easiest for them to claim credit or deny responsiblity -- which is what they get when the GOCO is history and the site operator is one of the numerous wards of the government (defined as shades of once-mighty corporations that actually made things, that now exist only to do whatever for some amount of government largesse. Whores operate on a similar principle, but as a group they're generally more honest and a whole lot cheaper).
 
Vote Republican or Embrace Socialism . Its as simple as it gets. Now back to the original post. I have been telling you for a while here that things "are" going to change and the original post pretty much spells out what is going to happen to LANL and LLNL.So if your are 50+, pull the plug now and get on with your life doing something else. Gee, it wonderful to be correct and right on the money.

To the original poster, thank you for telling these people what I have been predicting. It's all down hill from here.
 
8/22/2005 01:08:42 PM almost has it right. I was at Cape Canaveral (yes, that's what it was called in those days), and the service contracts were rebid every 3-5 years specifically to keep you from getting vested.

Irwin Feerst was a spokesman for the migrant worker EE's, but he's long dead now. My wife worked at the Cape for ITT Federal Systems as a co-op. Her boss had nine years and six months into a ten year cliff vesting program when they lost (deliberately?) the contract. Dumping pensions and benefits is the only way to underbid the incumbent because the bidders are generally not allowed to cut salaries.

We'll see if we fare any better at LANL.
 
Regarding the previous post, there are contracts similar to the one at Cape Canaveral. One was the communications testing contract at Fort Huachuca in Southeast Arizona. That contract was rebid/reawarded every five years and the systems engineers and computer science people never got vested in any retirement system.
 
I'd just like to encourage everyone to clearly evaluate their situation, and whenever possible, get out of the deal with the income stream intact, as long as such things can be. iticians as figureheads.
 
Just retire and call it good. Its truly time to pull the plug and watch thing crumble.
 
I feel sorry for those that can't retire yet.
 
I recently retired. I feel like one of those who found a place in one of the Titanic's lifeboats.
 
I retired in July 2004 to save my pension. I really feel sorry for my daughter and her husband. They have no chance of securing their retirement at the Lab. They cannot quit and go somewhere else to make a new life. Such a place no longer exists.

Larry Creamer, DX-1 Retired
 
I guess all of our concerns at LLNL were not very far off. As a matter of a fact as I read this blog more it seems that both labs will get their wish

Abolishing Academia at LLNL

Contract FY 2007

For the first time in my career I can honestly say that the plan to establish a corporation to manage Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory employees is an absolute brilliant venture, if the mission is to restructure the system without fear of law suites.

For me, my only question to the University of California and to DOE is; just how kind will they be to their loyal employees after twenty to thirty years of service when in fact it was their dedication to duty during the cold war era that kept this country free. For many of us it is imperative that the answer to this question be delivered on time and without procrastination by April of 2007.

So with that said I am going tell you what the employees of LLNL believe they are in for and quite frankly I don’t believe that their worries are far from being the truth.

Fears about the new contractor taken as facts:

· Cut medical coverage

· Termination of UC Retirement and 403b

· Evade any possible law suites

· Employ the step system for pay and salary

· Reduce manpower to reasonable levels

· Freeze wages at their current levels

· Cut middle management by at least 50% - 75%

· Abolish employees between assignments

· Allow all support facilities to be contracted out

· All employees including PhD’s to become contract labor

· Give the employer an easy path for employee dismissal

· Reduce the population by at least 50%

· Moth-ball NIF

· Transfer the Pu facility to NTS

· Make LLNL and Institute not an R&D facility

I cannot say that all of the above bullets are a bad idea but please give the people who are fifty year old with twenty years of service a golden handshake before Sept 29th 2007 and above all retain the medial benefits for all. The medical benefits are the most important thing one can have.

LANL Contract Proposal Pay close attention to page 15-second paragraph and page 16.
 
All of this talk is making me really depressed. I'm almost able to pull a
decent retirement, but still need a few more years. I've come so close,
but now fear it will all soon be slipping away. On the face of it, the new
benefits package will probably, at first, appear fine. However, I have no
doubt that DOE will monkey with the details in the outlying years to make
the package much less generous. They want capture of the seasoned staff
now, and will fine-tune the benefits to their liking at a later date.
Within a few years, their verbal promises of "substantially equivalent"
benefits may be nothing more than a hollow echo, and the people who made
those promises to the LANL staff will be long gone.
 
Larry,

“They cannot quit and go somewhere else to make a new life.”

Why not? Is the Los Alamos National Laboratory the only place in the world to “make a new life”? How entirely sad if you or them really believe so.
 
This is a BS statement:

“They cannot quit and go somewhere else to make a new life.”

Why not? Is the Los Alamos National Laboratory the only place in the world to “make a new life”? How entirely sad if you or them really believe so.
# posted by Anonymous : 8/25/2005 07:03:59 PM

Any of you that listen to this crap are fools and you deserve what you get. Sure you may have to leave you family, children, grandchildren and parents behind, but that is the way the ball bounces. You have to live you own life even if that means you do something entirely different then science.

LANL and LLNL are not all the world has to offer.
 
To be fair: it is not an easy decision to make. More accurately, it is a very difficult decision. But, speaking from experience, it is well worth the effort to find a more healthy work environment when

1) you still want to work, and
2) your present work envoronment is hopelessly screwed up.

The relief and satisfaction upon find a new, productive, heathy place to work is well worth the stress of having to do so.

--Doug
 
07:03:59

You are entirely correct. It would really be sad if they really believed that this the only place in the world they can work. Probably a multi-generation "lab family" that has never worked elsewhere and have been isolated from the world.
 
8/25/2005 07:03:59 PM said:
"Larry,

“They cannot quit and go somewhere else to make a new life.”

Why not? Is the Los Alamos National Laboratory the only place in the world to “make a new life”? How entirely sad if you or them really believe so."

It is for those without a college degree who thought they could prepare for the future by working for the Lab like I did.

What do you suggest they do?

Larry Creamer, DX-1 Retired
 
07:03:59 PM said:

"You are entirely correct. It would really be sad if they really believed that this the only place in the world they can work. Probably a multi-generation "lab family" that has never worked elsewhere and have been isolated from the world."

We are a multi-generation Los Alamos family. I brought my children here in 1976. It is the only world they have known, and until recently we thought it was a great place to live until we found out that it is just like the rest of the world.

Larry Creamer, DX-1 Retired
 
My dad came to Los Alamos in 1949. I guess that makes me a multi-generational Los Alamosan as well.

Sad to say: glad I left.

--Doug
 
Doug Roberts 8/25/2005 08:23:44 PM said:
"My dad came to Los Alamos in 1949. I guess that makes me a multi-generational Los Alamosan as well.

Sad to say: glad I left.

--Doug"

We came to Los Alamos in 1951, but moved to Albuquerque in 1953. I'm multi-generational just like my kids.

I'm glad I left too. The Lab died in July 2004.

Larry Creamer, Dx-1 Retired
 
I wonder when the rest of the 8000+ employees are going to read the information in this blog and under this subtitle and get a clue. I am doing my best to get the word out at LLNL so that these people have two years to plan their future. How can we get this blog URL out to all of the LANL and LLNL employee. Anyone have any ideas?

http://lanl-the-real-story.blogspot.com/2005/08/pension-rights-what-rest-of-complex-is.html

This in all reality is the only sun title worth reading on this blog. The rest is all finger pointing and that is not what people want to see or read about. This ( http://lanl-the-real-story.blogspot.com/2005/08/pension-rights-what-rest-of-complex-is.html) needs to be moved to the top of the blog and never be demoted for any other subject.
 
Hi Larry,

I understand your concern for you kids. However do not worry they should be fine. I think if they left for a life outside of Los Alamos they will find plenty of work and have a good life. I think no matter what people need to realize there is so much out there in this world, so many great things you can do and see. Too many people are letting LANL get to them. I do not know, maybe it is just living in New Mexico. I am also very sad that Doug said he is glad he is gone. He should still be proud of the work he did while he was here. That still counts for something.
 
Don't get me wrong, 12:09:28 AM, I am proud of the work that my group and I did while at LANL. I am glad, however, that I can continue to work on the outside and not have to endure the very dysfunctional work environment that has become LANL in just this past year.

Having worked at LANL for 20 years, I know that not all the problems that currently exist there came about in just this past year. But, July 16 of last summer marked the end of the LANL that I could continue to work at.

--Doug
 
Doug;

This is the only sub title on this blog worth reading. The rest are all finger pointing and telling the world how many mistakes LANL made. This is not what people want to see or read about.

This URL ( http://lanl-the-real-story.blogspot.com/2005/08/pension-rights-what-rest-of-complex-is.html) needs to be moved to the top of the blog and never be demoted for any other subject. It also needs to get out to the 800o people at LANL and 8000 at LLNL.

Being from one of the west coast labs you'd be surprised how many people don't even know what is coming down the pipeline or maybe just don't care. I have a feeling that when this freight train stops it won't be pretty for many.

Please get this URL out there ASAP and please stay on the subject matter. Ask others who have been there and done that to post exactly what has happen to them as did the original poster.

Thanks
 
Thank you 8/26/2005 12:09:28 AM. I must admit that I am selfish in not wanting them to leave if they could afford to pull up stakes. I would not be close to my grandchildren

Larry Creamer, DX-1 Retired
 
I am sure glad that I do not have any grand children, nor do I want any. I spent to many years raising my own, and for sure do not want to repeat that task. I for one would not suggest for anyone in this time of age to have children at all. Why would anyone want to bring a child into this world. It's been going down hill since after WWII and has never recovered. What makes you thing for a moment that it will get better. It will not.Just look around and waht the news. Even they can't tell you what's happening nationally. Want to see the real world, become a cop and then you'll know what I am talking about. Thank God for small favors.
 
To get back on the subject matter it looks like our fears at LLNL were not to far off. See fears and what SPSE has to say;

Abolishing Academia at LLNL

Contract FY 2007

For the first time in my career I can honestly say that the plan to establish a corporation to manage Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory employees is an absolute brilliant venture, if the mission is to restructure the system without fear of law suites.

For me, my only question to the University of California and to DOE is; just how kind will they be to their loyal employees after twenty to thirty years of service when in fact it was their dedication to duty during the cold war era that kept this country free. For many of us it is imperative that the answer to this question be delivered on time and without procrastination by April of 2007.

So with that said I am going tell you what the employees of LLNL believe they are in for and quite frankly I don’t believe that their worries are far from being the truth.

Fears about the new contractor taken as facts:

· Cut medical coverage

· Termination of UC Retirement and 403b

· Evade any possible law suites

· Employ the step system for pay and salary

· Reduce manpower to reasonable levels

· Freeze wages at their current levels

· Cut middle management by at least 50% - 75%

· Abolish employees between assignments

· Allow all support facilities to be contracted out

· All employees including PhD’s to become contract labor

· Give the employer an easy path for employee dismissal

· Reduce the population by at least 50%

· Moth-ball NIF

· Transfer the Pu facility to NTS

· Make LLNL and Institute not an R&D facility

I cannot say that all of the above bullets are a bad idea but please give the people who are fifty year old with twenty years of service a golden handshake before Sept 29th 2007 and above all retain the medial benefits for all. The medical benefits are the most important thing one can have.

LANL Contract Proposal Pay close attention to page 15-second paragraph and page 16.

http://www.spse.org

It's NOT all good !!!
 
A bit more information for you to ponder on:

In the last issue of the Sentinel (Vol.4, May
2005) we reported that the final Request for Proposal (RFP) for the contract to run Los Alamos National Laboratory has been released by the Department of Energy. The good news
is that DOE included in the final RFP many of
the changes from the original draft RFP that
SPSE and UPTE lobbied hard to get. This
includes rights for employees to organize, and
almost the exact language we proposed on
scientific and academic freedom.
There is some bad news, too. The RFP requires
the new contractor to set up a two-tiered
retirement plan completely separate from UC
Retirement Plan (UCRP). Los Alamos
employees will have a choice of three options
during the transition to the new contractor: 1)
transition to Pension Plan 1, which will be
substantially equivalent to UCRP (i.e., sever all
ties to UCRP and go on a new plan with the
same age factors, and with UC service
continued next column
credit transferring to the new plan); 2) transition
to Pension Plan 2 (i.e., become an “inactive”
member of UCRP --- basically “freeze” in place
the current UCRP pension --- and start over
with the new employer on a much-lessgenerous
plan starting with no service credit);
or 3) retire under UCRP (in which case the
employee would not necessarily be hired back
by the new contractor --- this is the “take the
money and run” option). All new employees
(after the transition period) would go on
Pension Plan 2. SPSE/UPTE fought hard
against the establishment of a two-tiered
pension plan, and we still think it is a colossal
mistake for DOE to force such a system on the
Labs. We believe that this will have an adverse
long term impact on recruitment and retention.
SPSE is looking into the UCRP/CalPERS
reciprocity issues (i.e. Will the new retirement
plan have reciprocity with CalPERS too?), for
those of you effected, you know what we are
talking about. We have no reason to believe
that reciprocity will continue under the new
plan.Worse, the RFP requires the new contractor to
set up a completely separate Limited Liability
Corporation (LLC) to run LANL. Thus, even if
the UC-Bechtel team wins the bid competition,
Los Alamos employees WILL NO LONGER
BE UC EMPLOYEES. They will presumably
be employees of the new LLC. Let us be clear
on this point: LANL is going to be privatized,
with all the implications that go along with this.
It is not entirely clear at this point what the
longer-term effects of this change will be on
employee pay, benefits, and working
conditions. As a minimum, it means LANL
employees will no longer receive UC benefits.
Retiree medical benefits, for example, would
come from the new contractor, and the future of
such benefits is by no means guaranteed.
Organizing rights --- which includes
employees’ due process protections against
arbitrary dismissals from their jobs --- would no
longer be protected under the California Higher
Education Employees Relations Act (HEERA);
such protections would be afforded under the
much weaker National Labor Relations Board.
The major competitor to the UC-Bechtel team
is a University of Texas/ Lockheed-Martin
team. DOE is expected to announce the winner
of the bid competition in November 2005. The
focus of SPSE/UPTE lobbying now is to win for employees an opportunity to question the bidders, evaluate the bid proposals, and provide an independent analysis of the bid proposals to DOE.

Why are we at LLNL so concerned with what is happening to our sister lab in Los Alamos? We are concerned because it is quite clear that the Los Alamos RFP is the template for the RFP that will be issued in another year or two for LLNL. We have discovered in the course of
our lobbying activities that the mood in this Congress and this Administration is in favor of privatizing the Labs, and Los Alamos is only the first in line. Our turn is coming up next. ■
 
Good point but its to late to worry about the small stuff. Your only choice is to retire and leave.

By Kurt Glaesemann
Here are three items from the recent news.
• A Marine jet carrying four 500-pound bombs crashed into the yard of a home in Arizona
during a training exercise. The pilot ejected and one person on the ground was slightly
injured.
• The inspector general’s investigation found the illegal immigrants were construction workers
on jobs at the Y-12 National Security Complex near Knoxville, Tennessee. The report
details how the workers, apparently using fake green cards, were able to obtain access
badges.
• A truck carrying 35,500 pounds of explosives crashed and exploded Wednesday, leaving a
huge crater in a Utah highway and injuring at least four people.
I cannot help but think that if such accidents had been LLNL’s fault, the news media would have
jumped all over us with much greater vigor. But, I take that a compliment from the news media as
to our safety, because as stated by Bruce Schneier, Founder and CTO of Counterpane Internet
Security, Inc.: One of the things I routinely tell people is that if it is in the news, don’t worry about
it. By definition, “news” means that it hardly ever happens. If a risk is in the news, then it’s probably
not worth worrying about. When something is no longer reported -- automobile deaths, domestic
violence -- when it is so common that it is not news, then you should start worrying. ■
 
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