Friday, March 10, 2006

LANS Plan 1

Please post anonymously-
Has anyone noticed that the LANS Plan 1 is to be a member of the PBGC? It
clearly states so. If the real intention is to keep the plan funded, even
by raiding the operating budget, then there is absolutely no reason to be a
member of the PBGC. Something is just not right. I really belive that the
intent is to give us pennies on the dollar in the future, much like the
airline pilots. I believe we will see our pensions screwed with long before
a penny of operating budget is diverted. This fact alone is pushing me
towards inactive status with a cash out. When this same concern was voiced
to the transition site, it was ignored. No answer provided. Remember- the
DOE said they could divert operating funds to the pension. They never said
they would actually do it. Unless we got it in writing, its pension plan
transfer beware. Could this also be why Plan 2 does not credit my service
towards the access only health plan? To push me in the wrong direction. I
really have tried to remain objective in this whole matter-but something is
just not right.

After rereading the top four posts on this blog, it became obvious to me that you LANL scientist types are even thicker than I had thought, and I already thought you all were pretty obtuse. I don't know what it is going to take before you finally "get it", but if you can pull yourselves out of your little self-centered cocoons for just a moment, you will see that your world has changed. Some of you are just now slowly, dimly, beginning to realize that Los Alamos National Laboratory as you once knew it is gone forever.

For the longest time most of you were saying "I want UC to win the contract because I want to retain my benefits."


Well, now you have your wish. UC "won the contract". Happy now? Enjoy your future. I hope you like plutonium manufacturing work, because that is what we, in partnership with NNSA, Bechtel, and BWXT have in mind for you.
The whole premise of the LANS benefits packages appear to be a forced attempt to herd all the cattle down the same chute to the slaughter of TCP1.

Appears that only a few have the foresight to see the security of inactive status, lump sum cashout from UCRS and reduced benefits levels of TCP2.

It is to LANS greatest corporate fiscal advantage to get as many as possible into TCP1 so that the raiding of the huge pot of retirement funds may begin.
No matter how this whole fiasco gets spin-doctored by public relations personnel at the DOE and LANL, what's happening here is nothing less than blatant age discrimination and blackmail. If you're an older worker (vested and eligible for retirement under UCRS) you’re being blackmailed into to keeping your job and seniority at the Lab, but only if you're willing to forgo your vested interests (legal rights) in UCRS. And if you exercise your right to retire under UCRS before the transition to LANC, your punishment is likely to be even more severe since then you won't even be guaranteed a job with LANC, much less your existing seniority. Even if you choose not to retire, but instead keep your existing UCRS interests in tact by going "inactive" in UCRS, you're still going to be penalized. In this case the good news is you’re being guaranteed a job with LANC, but the bad news is you'll be classified as a "new employee." This means you lose your seniority and all benefits associated with that, including such things as severance pay in the event you're laid off a year or so down the road. Furthermore, as a new employee not only are you at greater risk of being targeted for termination, your vacation and sick leave accruals will lower; namely that of a new employee. So the bottom line is older workers are being funneled out of the Lab through this transition, or into significantly less-secure positions within LANC. And this, in turn, reduces the cost associated with having an older workforce since the employment package for those workers--both in terms of security and benefits, is going to much lower once the dust of this transition all settles.

This “substantially equivalent" employment arrangement is far from that, and particularly so for older workers. But there's an additional problem in what’s transpiring in that people are being penalized for simply refusing to give up their vested (legal) interests. Take for example two existing Lab employees identical in every way, but one will be treated better in the transition if he/she is willing to forgo his/her vested interests in UCRS. Say in this case both are 50 years of age with 25 years of service. One however caves in to pressures to transfer his/her UCRS pension accumulation to LANC, and because of it is guaranteed a job with LANC with his/her seniority intact, plus receives a much better benefits package (TCP1). This, in turn, translates not only into greater job security and benefits, but a higher vacation and sick leave accrual rate than those funneled into the TCP2 benefits package. Which is where all "new employees" of LANC end up, including the other employee in this example who also has 25 years of existing seniority at LANL, but will lose it in the transition because he/she refused to forgo his/her vested rights in UCRS. This person, in comparison to the first, will be treated as a “new employee” in LANC, and receive less job security because of it. This person will also be funneled into the significantly less equivalent benefits package (including lower leave accrual rates) known as TCP2. And what this boils down to this that people in general are being penalized if they exercise their legal right to maintain their vested interests in UCRS. This, at best, smells like blackmail.

Age discrimination and blackmail are illegal. What remains to be scene is whether we, as group, can step up to the challenge of holding those responsible accountable for what's occurring. If not, then perhaps we deserve no better.
Looks like the DOE finally came to the conclusion there are, indeed, significant legal risks associated with denying people their vested interests rooted in seniority, and particularly so if a case can be made that older workers are being adversely impacted in a significant extent because of it.

The following DOE/NNSA resolution/decision appears to resolve a significant portion the concern I raised in the previous posting herein, which was largely the same concern I submitted to DOE/NNSA during the comment/imput period. To the extent the DOE/NNSA actually makes these changes, that's good news.

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