Thursday, February 16, 2006

Domestic partner benefits

Submitted by Anonymous:

Well, so much for domestic partner benefits. Substantially
Equivalent is apparently a very vague term.

Actually, it appears as though the definition has become much clearer.
Here are some 'new' facts straight from LANS:

1. Except for the 25% option being eliminated, spousal continuances of 50-100% should be very close to what UC ofers now. This is actually much better if one spouse dies without filling out the proper retirement papers. (+)

2. There is NO retiree health care is EVER available through TCP2, not for new hires, not for Inactive Transfers, not for Retire/ Rehires. If you work 20 years you earn 'access' and pay both the employer and employee portion. But the only LANS retiree employer paid health care available is through TCP1 (grandfathered). Note that this provision has changed from last years DOE promises because of a change in US business practices, ie IBM. (-)

3. Lump sum cash out are gone. So are catch up provisions for those under age 50. (-)

4. All LANS employees in TCP2 are instantly vested, with up to 6% matching funds and 3.5% employer contribution paid into employee 401 accounts immediately. These the employees own funds and are transportable from job to job. (+)

5. Domestic partners and dependants are covered under LANS health care and might be able to be non-relative beneficaries. But the more generous UC benefits are unfortunately gone until the government changes a few laws. (-)

6. The 105% Ben-val target is actually GOING DOWN in value as we speak, as US companies abandon their worker benefits left and right. LANS is chasing a sinking dollar figure....

You have until Feb 24 to comment.
Regarding the 6% matching funds, other DOE laboratories (ANL, BNL, FNAL, and TJNAF) have TIAA-CREF, which is a defined contribution plan. These labs put in 10% for the employees. They also have supplemental retirement plans.

You can check the websites:

The other benefits (medical, dental, etc) are all comparable to the old and new LANL benefits.

So, I don't see where our TCP2 6% contribution along with the other benefits puts LANL at 105% of the DOE average. Indeed, it would seem that TCP2 benefits value is below average.

The comparison list does not include any of the labs you mentioned. The peer group is listed on page 33 of LANS's Mercer handout.

Another point is that the comparison is to the median, not the average, of the peer group (page 27 of the same handout).
Two of the biggies in that so-called "peer group", IBM and
Motorola, are beginning to out-source like crazy to India and
China. In fact, IBM just screwed their older workers big-time
by actually freezing their pensions. Can you imagine being a
50 year old worker at IBM. You pull out the pension chart
and look up your service credit + current age, calculate your
current pension benefit, and realize that it will never get
any bigger, no matter how much longer you stay with IBM.
Those last few years when the pension benefits typically
take-off have been totally snuffed out!

With science and engineering R&D jobs being out-sourced to
low-cost, no-benefit shops in China and India, it's only a
matter of time before the current benefits at companies like
IBM and Motorola head even lower. IBM has laid off about
15,000 employees in the US and Europe over this last year.
Strangely enough, they have also hired about 15,000 new
technical workers in Asia (mainly India).

If LANS's TCP2 benefits are hitched to companies like these,
then that market-driven 105% equivalence is going to look
mighty paltry in just a few more years. Why are we being
"peer grouped" to a bunch of US companies that are, in
effect, sending most of their future R&D efforts overseas?
DOE can't hire cheap Indian labor for handling nuclear R&D
research, so how can companies like IBM be consider as our
peers? In truth, they cannot. It appears to me that DOE
could care less about its scientific workers, regardless
of what they say. The proof is in their actions, not their

Haven't you heard yet? There's a shortage of scientists and engineers in the US.
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