Thursday, April 27, 2006

The “at will” concept


Even though I’m out of here May 31st, if you post this please do so anonymously. Under the Contra Costa post of
4/19/06 the following exchange is posted:

I've seen this talk of "at will" status for all LANL staff thrown around quite a bit. Does anyone know the real story? LANS has been coy about this subject. Will this truly be the case after June 1st? Has anyone asked this question of LANS during the Q&A at meetings?

# posted by 14MEVs : 4/19/2006 11:59:57 AM

Read the "Employment at Will" section of the LANS employment application form, and decide for yourself.

# posted by Roderick Spode : 4/19/2006 12:14:14 PM

In discussing the “at will” concept with a colleague today I took the person to Spode’s post to help explain. The LANS Employment Application pdf file at the address that Spode posted no longer contains the terms “at will” on the LANS form. This says at least two things; 1) LANS is continuing to make changes on the fly without letting people know (who knows what else they are changing?); and 2) LANS is reading the blog (surprise, surprise!). Thanks to you and Brad for all the hard work and providing a forum for discourse. Best wishes to both of you for the future.

A LASL employee and proud of it!

The employment application referred to , in the last paragraph titled "Employment Relationship", very precisely defines an "at will" relationship, but does not use the words "at will". They reserve the right to terminate employees, at their convenience "consistent with its policies and procedures" and state that those policies and procedures may "change from time to time". The go on to state that the policies and procedures do not "create and express or implied contract for employment".

This trashes every right that LANL employees have under the UC system. How are the supposed wonders of the UC system to attract and maintain the "great scientists" they need to do "world class" science when the work environment is so repressive, and totally unlike UC?

LANL has now the worst of all worlds; the arrogance and mismanagement of UC without any of the compensating benefits.
After spending 10 years in industry "at-will", there was always due process for people who bumped up aganst the rules of the organization. Most at-will companies have a progressive discipline process, unless the indisgression is serious (I.e., Admiral Butthead) and then the corrective action is immediate.
I would hold off on using the term "repressive environment" until we see what shakes out.
I don't wish to be picky, BFO, but given that UC is still a part of the management process of LANL, I feel that "lucky's" use of the term 'repressive' regarding the work environment at LANL is totally appropriate.
As was noted in the post, LANS (Bechtel) is reading the blog. So read this, LANS (Bechtel):

IN CHOOSING TO PARTNER WITH UC, YOU PICKED A LOSER. Getting into bed with Nanos, Dynes, Foley, Parsky: what were you thinking?

We now return to our regular programming.
The only legal document that governs any of this is the M&O contract between LANS and NNSA/DOE - and that's secret. All the website pages, all the handouts, all the PowerPoint presentations, all the All Hands meetings, none of that is binding. We may well be the victims of a collossal bait and switch, because only the contract is a legally binding document. The rest of all the promises and assurances are not legally enforceable.

Where would you like your tatoo?
"blinding flash obvious" is wrong that "at will" companies have due process and progressive discipline. Once a company creates such processes, it is, legally, no longer an "at will" company.
The question of how the new company will attract and maintain the "great scientists" they need to do "world class" science is obvious. No one with a choice will want to work in such an environment. Of course, they can always get them to come by making separate contracts with individuals -- signing bonuses and golden parachutes, etc. etc. which are kept secret, as in the case of Nanos. But usually such perks are reserved for managers, not scientists.
So, I think the days of great science at LANL are over.
So, I think the days of great science at LANL are over.
# posted by Long Gone : 4/29/2006 11:31:53 AM

The days of great science being done here were over long ago. Most of you "science" folks have done no great work for years but were happy to collect your big check and whine when they weren't bigger.

If the days of great science are over, you have only YOURSELVES to blame!
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