Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Union files suit against lab to block pension plan changes

By Bonita Brewer
CONTRA COSTA TIMES

A labor union that also represents Lawrence Livermore Laboratory workers has filed a lawsuit aimed at blocking Los Alamos National Laboratory's new management from "coercing" workers to transfer out of their current pension fund in exchange for future job guarantees.

"Thousands of employees working at the Livermore national lab will very soon be facing a very similar decision," Jelger Kalmijn, president of the UC Professional and Technical Employees, predicted at a press conference today in Livermore.

Like 8,500 workers at the Livermore lab, Los Alamos employees in New Mexico currently work for the University of California under its management contract with the U.S. Department of Energy. But as of June, Los Alamos will be managed by Los Alamos National Security, a new quasi-private organization comprised of UC and Bechtel Corp.

The UC has said that if it votes to enter the upcoming competition for the Livermore management contract, which expires in 2007, it will again partner with Bechtel in a joint bid. Union officials said Tuesday there are indications the DOE guidelines for Livermore will be a "mirror image" of those in place for Los Alamos.

[...]

Full Story


Comments:
"Kalmijn said the situation, along with Los Alamos' planned change to an 'at-will' employment status, meaning workers can be fired without cause, could lead to an 'exodus' of qualified scientific researchers." (Contra Costa Times)

I've seend 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?
 
Read the "Employment at Will" section of the LANS employment application form, and decide for yourself.

http://lansllc.com/LANS%20Employment%20Application%203-27-06.pdf
 
The key on the employment at will statement is the phrase "consistent with policies and procedures."

If there is a policy manual, then there will likely be some kind of multi-step (oral conseling, probation, termination) procdure for termination. And, there may be a grevience procedure. If these exist, then they become part of an employment contract which will trump any employment at will statements.

Nevertheless, having an employment at will statement in the job application sends message that this will not be a very desireable place to work.
 
Nevertheless, having an employment at will statement in the job application sends message that this will not be a very desirable place to work.

What this says is the party is over and they will in fact get rid of those who they do not like. It will be as it is in the real world. No more golden parachute or security blanket. This is only one of the few reasons I decided to pull the plug. A work place where one is in fear of expressing their opinion is not a place for me.
 
Spode, Mucho Gracias for that link to the new LANS employment application PDF. It looks pretty clear to me that staff will be "at will" after June 1st. LANS even uses the term "Employment at Will" in big, bold letters in the document. Nothing subtle about it. If someone up above in LANS management doesn't like your looks, it's Hasta la Vista. No explanation will be necessary, and no severance pay is likely to follow.
 
De Nada, Megavolts.

One should always keep ones' eyes open when considering a new employer.
 
It's been my experience in "at-will" companies that poor performers have the hardest time.
Look around town at lunch, people on extended lunch breaks, KSL maintenance tech’s on breakfast breaks in cafeterias at 9 am when they should be at work, etc. I have one peer who comes in between 8:30 –9 am and then gets lost for the day, shows up late for meetings, and is a poor contributor to the group.
IMHO, those afraid or "at-will" are those who need protection from management because they don’t perform, are sloppy workers, have higher absenteeism rates, squander time and effort, etc. (Good union members)
At-will could be the best thing that happens to this place. Imagine people being held responsible for a full days work.
 
BFO points out an obvious fact: LANL and its affiliated contractors are rife with dead wood, and it would be a good thing to clean out some of the rubbish.

The down side of being at at-will employee is when the employer is incompetent (e.g. The University of California) or has an incompetent customer (e.g. DOE, NNSA).
 
Ask a bunch of "at will" employees to certify the safety & reliability of the nuclear stockpile? Wow!

As to the so-called LANL Retiree Group and their reaction to the UPTE lawsuit, check out the related Monitor article on this blog. Calling it pathetic would be an understatement. What a shame.
 
Indeed, at LANL, there is just too much cronyism, a natural consequence of a company town. So, cleaing out the "dead wood" just is not going to happen.

And, yes, the message is clearly sent this LANL is not going to be the employer of choice.
 
Funny but I was just commenting to a co-worker this morning about this very thing. Glad to see this factual post. It even gets worse. I have notice that the new generation of workers having never been tasked with chores at home or done any military time are coming to the work force with poor work ethics and zero attention to detail on the job, where every rule that can be broken is and any means of taking advantage of the system is employed. Personally I would have fired them all but then HR is their to give them shelter. Hopefully things will change with the "at will" criteria. These people I am talking about are FTE's

_________________

It's been my experience in "at-will" companies that poor performers have the hardest time.
Look around town at lunch, people on extended lunch breaks, KSL maintenance tech’s on breakfast breaks in cafeterias at 9 am when they should be at work, etc. I have one peer who comes in between 8:30 –9 am and then gets lost for the day, shows up late for meetings, and is a poor contributor to the group. IMHO, those afraid or "at-will" are those who need protection from management because they don’t perform, are sloppy workers, have higher absenteeism rates, squander time and effort, etc. (Good union members) At-will could be the best thing that happens to this place. Imagine people being held responsible for a full days work.
# posted by Blinding Flash Obvious : 4/20/2006 08:51:24 AM
 
An "at will" workplace means abusive managers can abuse at will. It's not about getting rid of deadwood so much as getting rid of those who complain about managerial abuses. But isn’t it funny how we always think it's the other guy that's the deadwood, while he in turn is thinking it’s us that’s slacking. As for those forever ready to spew anti union venom, what hypocrisy! Yea, let’s just keep enjoying the benefits unions have brought into the workplace, while slamming them at every opportunity. Perhaps that’s one way to avoid being victimized in an “at will” workplace. Just keep labeling others as "deadwood" and tossing stones at unions...now that's management material!
 
From what I have seen the only thing the unions of this country have done is drive the price of goods through the roof, however I can't say that corporate America is watching out for its people neither. It seems that they are going where the labor is cheap, such as China where one will work for $1.00 a day and then sell those very same good here in America for 1000% profit. Where this is all going I do not have a clue. I am just glad that I did my time while the times were good. I feel worry for those who still have to work and are expecting to own a nice car, home or even retire in the future. If all stays on track as it's going we will someday see two to three generations of family living under one roof like it is in Europe, Asia and Africa. Now that's something to look forward too, isn't it. You can have you wife, grandmother and her mother all under one roof. Maybe that is how the companies of the future will get people to want to come to work and stay at work for less pay. You have two choices. be at work where you are mother-in-law free or go home and catch hell. The comes those gas prices going up as they are I suspect people will be living closer to work and riding bikes in the next two years or so. It's NOT all good.
 
Anyone who thinks the only at-will employees that get let go are poor, sloppy workers eating breakfast at 9 am instead of working are dead wrong!! Dozens of solid, confident, educated hard workers were let go from KSL with no notice. The motto is" Over budget? Cut your employees off at the knees and save save save!"
 
What is brown and sleeps four?

A KSL pickup truck.
 
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