Thursday, January 26, 2006

UPTE statement

Before anyone initiates any legal action with respect to the UCRP/LANL pension plan proposal, they really should check out

for some useful information on UCRP employee and retiree rights. UPTE is currently preparing to formalize discussions with Law Firms interested in filing a "Class Action Lawsuit" if it becomes necessary. More to follow so stay tuned. UPTE's Constitution allows retirees to join UPTE (In Reference to Pension & Benefits Negotiations).

Manuel Trujillo
UPTE LANL President

The fine print that says UC can terminate the plan whenever they wish applies to all UCRP active members and annuitants. I wonder if UC faculty and faculty retirees are aware of this proviso and whether informing them would be worthwhile.

BTW, this fine print has been there since at least 1993.
Probably not, but maybe Manuel Trujillo UPTE LANL President can enlighten them rather fast. I'll bet they'll say, we don't care, we're on the primary UCRP. It's all of you that are in a world of hurt.
Yes, any employer may terminate a pension plan. That means to stop contributions for active and new members. BUT, that does not relieve the employer of obligations to retirees and to active participants.
I don't much care for unions. I believe that they are largely responsible for the bloated, inefficient, expensive operations that the US automobile industry (and the Zia Company, Pan Am Services, and JCI) all became.

However, there are times when collective bargaining is essential to protect employee's rights, and I believe this is one of those times. I will be joining UTPE to help protect our retirement benefits.

Check the 2000 booklet we all got about UCRP. It says on the last page, "The University of California intends to continue the benefits described here indefinitely; however, the benefits of all employees, annuitants, and plan beneficiaries are subject to change or termination at the time of contract renewal or at any other time by the University or other governing authorities."

Maybe this statement is illegal but it does say "termination of benefits."
Any employer that gets a labor union usually deserves it. UPTE is the first union I have supported and joined in a 34 year career. Its positions and statements have been rational, not extremist, and usually more insightful than Lab management's (Kuckuck the too late exception).
We are very fortunate to have Manny. The new contractor would do well to invite him to the table.
I welcome any and all to join the union, UPTE, regardless of any degree of specificity in their reasons to do so. A union like UPTE--membership in which is not at all compulsory for employment--is a voluntary act for admittedly selfish goals, in concert with others against the predations by The Powers That Be above them. At the point when the union has become a mafia-like outfit run by a Jimmy Hoffa, it is time to quit that union. UPTE is far from that, my friends; it is more like the early coal-miners union of 100 years ago, and Congress, DOE/NNSA, UC, and LANL upper management of the last decade are more like the fat-cat coal-mine owners. (The analogy is a tenuous one, I admit, but what I've heard from some LANL employees about UPTE and its "evil" union bosses stretches the opposite analogy beyond the breaking point.)

I retired almost a year ago and became inactive in the union, which I had seen as the last collective bulwark against the terrible things that were done to the staff at LANL for the past seven or eight years. I had imagined that jack-booted FBI agents prowling the halls of X Division would have brought a flood of union recruitments, for example, not to mention Nanos' misbegotten shutdown. Nothing like that happened whatsoever, but now people's attention has been grabbed by absentee-landlord UC's ill-advised (and selfish) action against the retirees. Moreover, I remind you all that UPTE's thoughtful analysis of the RFP caused the Selection Evaluation Board to adopt 95% of UPTE's recommendations, all to the benefit of the staff--in other words, the ill-conceived privatization of LANL would have been FAR WORSE than it has been, thanks to UPTE.

I will be renewing my active participation in UPTE, and I hope other retirees and staff at LANL (and LLNL) will be doing so, too. The time for collective action is well past overdue, my friends.

Until I retired right after Xmas I was the UPTE representative to CLE. I feel particularly betrayed because at Tyler Ps last public presentation, I was the one on stage asking him the questions, including those on the different options. And actually thanking him for his answers.

As a former president of UPTE I tried to hard to get TSMs to join the union. I pointed out that there was a union here in the 40s (in fact Oppie gave his farewell to that group. I even wrote a piece "Einstein would have joined UPTE. But I became convinced that it would take bread and butter issues to really move the staff to join. Well here those issues are. Manny please post here info for re-activating. Especially for those of us far away from northern NM. My check to the Retirees group is also in the mail.

Far away, but not in spirit,
Sue Chasen
What DOE, NNSA, UC, and LANS fear most is an organized voice for the scientists. They shudder to think of the power that a union of scientists here at LANL could wield nationally. Sad that we might have squandered some valuable time by denying the good that UPTE is capable of doing.
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