Thursday, April 13, 2006

Latest "clarification"

Submitted by Anonymous:

How many folks will now be willing to trust the DOE/LANS Team (Syndicate) after this latest "clarification". Especially since we were specifically by the LANLS personel rep that we could indeed take a lump sum cashout from UC AND still qualify for paid "TCP-1" retiree medical benefits even if we were enrolled under TCP-2. To quote as best I can remember "Does this sound too good to be true? Does this sound like you can have your cake and eat too? Yes it does"

How many of us are now willing to trust LANS on any of their unsecured and unguaranteed promises offered under TCP-1. Looks to me that they can decide to "clarify" anything they want to at any time they want to regardless of what has been set in writing or told to us verbally. Looks to me that we getting clarified right out of our so called "substantially equal" compensation package.


From: [] On Behalf Of Public Affairs Office - LANL Notices
Sent: Wednesday, April 12, 2006 10:58 AM
Subject: LANL-ALL1055: Clarification on retiree medical and lump-sum payments

Please note the following from Los Alamos National Security, LLC:

Date: April 12, 2006

To: LANL Employees
From: Mary O'Donnell, Human Resources Team Leader, Los Alamos National Security, LLC
Subject: NNSA Clarifies Retiree Medical and Lump-Sum Payments

The National Nuclear Security Administration has clarified the issue of retiree medical coverage for LANL employees electing to become inactive vested transferring employees going into Los Alamos National Security, LLC (LANS), Total Compensation Package 2 (TCP2) and subsequently taking a lump-sum cash-out under the University of California Retirement Plan (UCRP).

In a memo from Jan Chavez-Wilcynski, transition manager for NNSA's Los Alamos Site Office (LASO), the agency states that, "NNSA believes employees should be eligible for coverage under (LANS Total Compensation Package 1) TCP1 retiree medical only after they have made an irrevocable election of a monthly benefit from UCRP." In other words, employees who elect to accept LANS employment and choose inactive vested status with UCRP and later take a lump-sum cash-out of UCRP benefits will not be eligible for LANS retiree medical benefits under TCP 1. This is consistent with current UC policy, where employees who elect a lump-sum cash-out payment under UCRP are not eligible for retiree medical coverage.

However, a LANS employee in TCP 2 who is also inactive vested in UCRP and who has not elected a monetary benefit from UCRP at the time of retirement from LANS may qualify for "access-only" retiree medical benefits under TCP 2 if he or she meets the eligibility requirements.

All LANL employees are encouraged to consider this information when making decisions about accepting employment with LANS and their retirement future. Employees have until May 15 to return their Employment-Offer Packages to LANS. Those with questions about the NNSA guidance or about their employment offers can call the LANS Transition Hotline at 1-888-505-9292. Additionally, employees who have already returned their employment-offer and retirement election documents and would like to amend them prior to the May 15 deadline may make arrangements to do so by calling the LANS Transition Hotline.

The NNSA memo is posted on in the "What's New" section.

No need for a better package then you are being offered. remember this article
It might be good to keep in mind that one major goal of LANS is reduce the cost of business at LANL to the level of other sites. Having many employees in TCP1 does not accomplish that goal and in fact, compounds the problem. So it might make sense for LANS to encourage employees to jump to the cheaper TCP2 by allowing it to appear that LANS is as dishonest as they probably are. Once all the dust settles and TCP1 participation is still too high, then LANS can begin to slash TCP1 benefits without looking like they are any more dishonest than they do now. Instead of a RIF next year, look for "one-time opportunities" for TCP1 scurvy dogs to move down to TCP2 instead of absorbing some new penalty (like maybe huge pension contributions?). For LANS, it's all about the money.
Read the small print. On page 10 of the LANS "Pension Calculation
Example" you will find the following words (emphasis added):
* The terms and conditions of the plans may change at **ANY** time.

* The plans may be terminated or amended at **ANY** time.

Your participation in retirement plan choice does not create **ANY**
contractual or other rights to receive **ANY** benefits, nor does
your participation or projections of benefit growth constitute a
condition or right of future employment.

While these terms are certainly implied with our current UCRP
benefits, LANS felt the need to explicitly put them into their
Pension Example memo. Normally, I wouldn't get too worried
about small print phrases like this because I know UCRP has
a huge and active pool of beneficiaries who would fight off
any pension shenanigans. However, in the case of LANS...
If LANS is such going to be such a terrible place to work, why are you still here?
Regarding the original post, I think it's unfair to bash LANS' trustworthiness based only on this latest "clarification." When the LANS rep made the lump sum and retiree medical benefits statement, it was the first such presentation (on 3/28 in the Main Auditorium), and I remember thinking, "that certainly doesn't track the well-known UCRS provision that you give up retiree medical employer-subsidized benefits if you elect the lumpsum cashout--I'll bet she's wrong or misinformed about that provision." Sure enough, within a day (or two?) there were broadly advertised official statements made that that claim probably had been in error and that DOE/NNSA was looking at the issue. Ultimately DOE/NNSA formally weighed in with their (in my opinion reasonable) decision that LANS would track UC policy on this one, i.e., no retiree medical employer premiums if the lumpsum is elected.

Given that well-publicized retractions were made within hours of the original statement, I think LANS deserves a pass on this one. I doubt any LANL employee made any irrevocable decisions based on that statement on the 28th. There may well be other reasons not to trust LANS, but I don't think this event should be in the evidence column.
LANLMAN writes: "It might be good to keep in mind that one major goal of LANS is reduce the cost of business at LANL to the level of other sites."

Actually it was NOT the COST of the benefits that was the issue. LANL (and LLNL) benefits actually cost less than those of other sites because there were no retirement contributions by either the employer or the employees. What DOE didn't like was the VALUE of the benefits at LANL (and LLNL). Ths UC pension plan is (was) excellently managad.

Also, LANL, LLNL, and LBL have a defined-benefit pension plan while all of the other sites had defined-contribution plans and both the employer and the employees must contribute.

The employee costs at LANL and LLNL are less than at the other sites but the value of the benefits is higher. DOE has now fixed that. With the new contract LANL will have higher benefits costs and lower benefits value. DOE will consider this to be an accomplishment!
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