Friday, March 10, 2006

What the ….?

Submitted by Anonymous:

What the ….?

Analysis of quotes taken from “Response to Comments” link at

Items 1 and 3-6 all cite legal constraints to justify why each of the concerns raised by a large number of employees as being unfavorable to employees cannot be rectified. These arguments do not address the lack of “substantially equivalent in the aggregate” -- it just excuses the short fall because of legal constraints.


Item 2 says that the legal constraints of ERISA would require a greater lump sum payout under TCP1 than UCRP – i.e. favorable to employees – so LANS can NOT do that – because of legal constraints.

The only logical coherence I see in all of this is the tendency to consistently “disadvantage the employees”.

Item 1: Concern About Extra Risk of LANS vs. UCRP: “The new contractor, LANS, is a Limited Liability Corporation subject to all of the laws and regulations under ERISA and other laws that may not apply to the UC pension benefit plans.”

Item 2: Lump Sum Distribution: “Inclusion of this feature would provide a benefit significantly greater for ‘Transferring Employees’ under the new contract than that available to them under the UCRP simply by virtue of the change to a private sector plan subject to ERISA.”

Item 3: Domestic Partner Survivor Benefits:Under ERISA, the definition of a spouse does not include a domestic partner so that the LANS plan cannot provide the same survivor benefit to a domestic partner; i.e., a qualified joint and survivor annuity.”

Item 4: Employees Not Currently Covered Under Social Security: “Since LANS is a Limited Liability Corporation, LANS employees will be required by federal law to participate in Social Security and hence pay Social Security taxes effective June 1, 2006.”

Item 5: Treatment of Spousal Continuance Option: “This 25% survivor continuance benefit is not permissible under a private sector defined benefit pension plan subject to ERISA.”

Item 6: Differences in Pre-tax Deferral Limits: “In addition, providing an additional contribution only to employees who contribute up to the IRS maximum for 401(k) plans would likely violate IRS rules that prohibit discrimination in favor of highly compensated employees.”


DOE is not about to force a contractor that its reimbursing 100% to go beyond what the applicable laws require... and LANL is no longer going to be run by a California public agency subject to California laws covering compensation/benefits for California state agency employees...

Welcome to the private sector in the state of New Mexico!...

Also, stay tuned for a complete rewriting and gutting by LANS of LANL's HR policies to remove anything that was solely required by California law for public agency employees.
I couldn't agree more with this poster. The twisted logic in
the short "Questions & Answers" hand-out that spewed forth from
LASO on Thursday is disgraceful on most counts. They excuse
each shortfall and make no attempt to rectify any of them.

The biggest shortfall, IMHO, is the lack of lump-sum cash-out
in TCP1. Having a lump-sum option is an effective means to keep
a pension fund HONEST! If soon-to-be retirees feel that their
pension assets are in jeopardy due to poor management, they
can place a "vote" of no-confidence by taking the lump-sum cash.

Without the option of a lump-sum, the members of a pension have
no other way to "vote" on the condition of their pension. While
most employees never take the lump-sum option, it still acts as
a very effective tool in regulating any bad behavior of pension

There seems to be some reason why LANS doesn't want to give us
the ability to "vote" on their TCP1 pension via the lump-sum
option. This should be very disturbing to the LANL staff.
Alarms should be going off in your head over the lack of this
feature in your new pension.

By leaving out the lump-sum option, LANS and NNSA are playing
the current LANL staff for fools. Ten to twenty years from
today, the staff will no doubt regret that they lost this
ability to regulate bad behavior of their pension trustees.

And if you think the annual pension reports to the Labor Dept.
are a means for monitoring your pension, think again. Many of
the current corporate pension that went bankrupt in the last
few years had rosy annual pension reports. It's not too hard
to hide all sorts of pension problems from the auditors.
Sent all to NM Congressional members today: The NNSA benefits decision was delayed and then posted first on the LANL home page. If this weren't bad enough for deteriorating community regard for NNSA, its arguments are logically incoherent as pointed out above, and information used now was not disclosed and certainly not presented in response to specific questions asked at the posterboard presentations. I feel like I have been had by 2 shady used car salesmen very much in cahoots with a slimy, government lawyer. One of the weaknesses of UC "led" LANL has been an "us-them" worker/management polarity. With this start by LANS LLC it is very possible that the rift will only worsen.
Just read in the Friday (3/10th) Los Alamos Monitor that my PERS Long Term Care insurance will turn into a pumpkin on June 1st.

After many years of fairly levelized lower premiums, must I now go back to the Long Term Care insurance marketplace to get a replacement policy ratcheted up to my new age bracket?

Thankyou NNSA. Thankyou very much. Thanks for yet another screwing.
Note the following sentence in Issue 1: Risks Associated with Moving From “Public Sector” Pension Plan to “Private Sector” Pension Plan.

"NNSA is unaware of any instance in which DOE or NNSA contractor employee benefit plans have required government intervention to assure that plan participants received their vested plan benefits."

This is not true even if NNSA is unaware of any bailouts. DOE bailed out Rocky Flats, Mounds, and Y-12.

My reading of the response is that the only winner is Bechtel. All of a sudden there is the aggregate substantial equivalency. I don't ever recall hearing about an aggregate anything.

Including a lump sum disturbution not only keeps the folks doing the investing honest, but it is also humane. But then, of course, for profit companies have no interest in being humane.

However, no matter how bad TCP1 is, TCP2 is much worse except for those folks who have retired and come back to work as new employees. And even they will see the difference because PhD's who make over 100K now will not make that salary as a new employee no matter how much experience they have. The only way to pay the GRT and the salaries for upper management is to bring staff salaries way down. And since everyone will be at will employees with absolutely no rights, folks will not even be able to protest their salaries.

Finally, look at the new Org chart. Good grief, there are so many managers! And notice who all the top ones are - those who helped UC/Bechtel win the bid. To the winners go the spoils. So a fine manager such as James Peery who has a great deal of respect in parts of LANL is not even on the chart. Why? Because he was on the Lockmart side.

Maybe CALPER Long Term knows we'll be a greater liability for care under LANS LLC. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh, help me!!!
A new document from NNSA has appeared that answers 3 questions related to TCP2 service credit, retiree medical benefits and sick leave service credit.
This is right off the CALPERS web site @

You don’t have to be a CalPERS member to apply. All California public employees, retirees, their spouses, parents, parents-in-law, and adult siblings age 18 to 79 are eligible for the CalPERS Long-Term Care Program.

This includes members of CalPERS, teachers, school employees, University of California and California State University employees and retirees, county and city employees, Judges, Legislators, and all other California public employees and retirees.

If you leave public employment or move to another state, your coverage continues as long as premiums continue to be paid.

This tells me that if you belong already and continue to pay premiums you are ok. And if you retire under UC you are ok..
Some one on this blog mentioned that New Mexico has a Medical
Insurance Pool, so I checked it out. You can find out more

It appears that Oregon is the only other state with such a
pool. It's intended purpose is to get you reasonably affordable
coverage when you have some nasty existing condition, and
the coverage comes from Blue Cross. When I checked the rate
of the plan with the lowest out of pocket cost (deluxe), it
works out to about $1000/month for a couple who are both
in their 60's. Of course, if you and your wife were in good
health, you could probably do much better searching on your own.
However, the New Mexico pool would keep you from going into
financial ruin if you're unlucky enough to get hit with
a serious illness in your old age (ie, pre-Medicare).

The reason I mention all this is because I think that some
folks may be over-playing the LANL retiree coverage issue.
Sure, paying the current ~$250 month is less than $1000,
but the NM pool offers back-up protection from a worst-case
scenario. It probably also acts as a nice cap on what you
might expect to pay in New Mexico if you go out and search
for private medical coverage, as the state insurers all know
that you probably have the option to at least fall back on
the New Mexico state pool plan.
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