Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Predictable culture of a weapons lab

A comment from the


I am glad that this thread is going on.

From Hugh Gusterson's books (Nuclear Rites and others), it is clear that conflict aversion, bullies, and victims are part of the predictable culture of a weapons lab.

There are ways out of the difficulties engendered by the end of the Cold War, fear of retaliation, and loss of a strong mission.

The most common way is to get sensitive talented leaders and reward them for fixing things. Punishing leaders for trying to fix things has been tried before. It tends to drive away many of the people with leadership skills.

I hope that not only will the winner of the contract fix some of the ongoing difficulties of the lab, but that people who understand what neeeds to be fixed and how to fix it will start talking with each other beyond the confines of the blog.

It looks like things are going to heat up here for lawsuits. DOE will no longer pay for appealed employee lawsuits anymore. This means if you sue you will win for wrongful management practices at the LAB. Mangers beware. The president has spoken.

"One provision of the bill could cost lab contractors like the University of California for Los Alamos. It says the Department of Energy will no longer pay lawyers to appeal employee lawsuits after a judge rules against the contractor initially.

The Government Accountability Office found that the Department of Energy spent $330 million defending its private contractors in 1,895 cases from 1997 through 2003.

The majority were workers compensation, wrongful termination or equal employment opportunity cases. One hundred involved whistle-blower complaints.

University of California spokesman Chris Harrington said the provision will not affect the university's legal practices because "the university does not defend cases simply because DOE reimburses the cost. Each case is reviewed on its own merits."

By what reasoning do you infer, "This means if you sue you will win for wrongful management practices at the LAB." from this article you quoted?

I encourage you to keep the blog open to anonymous input. Though it invites abuse, and useless personal exchanges, the alternative seems worse. The LANL Newsbulletin "Forum" is an example of the alternative. It is mostly "safe" issues, such as the recent entries concerning the cafeteria, safety shoes and leave policy. The "real" issues at LANL, such as management practices and effectiveness, are not "safe" and therefore not aired.
Those such as Gary Stradling naturally encourage you to change policy, because their input to the blog is pro-management, thus "safe". Take their advice and you will have a "safe" forum, safely pro-management; and what's the point?
That said, I encourage the blog contributors to clean up their act. There are many important issues at LANL which would benefit from an airing, but this would benefit from more civility. It is hard to hear people who are screaming; the emotion drowns out the content.

Good luck, and thanks for your efforts.
I think what this person is trying to say is there are currently One hundred involved whistle-blower complaints. With that said lawyers will be eager to sue at will now for employees because they know that the governemtn will not pay for the appealed cases anymore and this leads to UC not wanting these costs. Therefore, UC will have to come down hard on management practices because if it does not there will be many eager lawyers willing to go Pro Bono now for tort law cases. The lawyers now know that there expenses for appeal cases have dropped dramatically. UC will have to answer to its alumni for any tort law suites against it and probably will not challenge appealed cases anymore, but either settle out of court from now on. This leads to huge tort claims.
I believe the article said cases that were decided against the contractor initially would not be appealed. Does the contractor lose every case brought against them?
You can still contribute to the Tod Kauppila family (and I hope their wrongful termination lawsuit) by following the directions on the lower right-hand corner of this blog. I'm in for $100 a month and it's a direct account-to-account transfer.
Gusterson really hit the nail on the head about LANL. Now, if only someone with the power to make change will try to improve the situation. The pay at LANL is generally excellent, but too many people have suffered severe physical and emotional problems from the poor management at LANL.
I fervently hope that it is true that DOE will no longer pay for appeals on lost whistleblower complaints. Paying for these appeals has caused people not to file good cases against LANL -- because they couldn't afford protracted and neither could potential contingency attorneys.
Many cases could and should be settled even before the first round in the courts.
It is true and was signed into law
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