Sunday, May 21, 2006

How about posting this article on your blog?

Submitted by Anonymous:
_________________________________


Forget about the Lab's self-serving press release. How about posting this article on your blog?

Saturday, May 20, 2006

LANL Suits Settled for $12M

By John Arnold
Journal Staff Writer
The University of California and a group of Hispanic and female Los Alamos National Laboratory employees have agreed to settle a pair of class action discrimination lawsuits at a cost of $12 million.
If the proposed agreement is approved by a federal judge, some 5,500 current and former lab employees will be eligible to receive payouts from the settlement. Parties in the case are still negotiating attorney fees.
UC manages LANL for the U.S. Department of Energy and employs about 9,500 people in Los Alamos. DOE will reimburse UC for the cost of the settlement, according to UC spokesman Chris Harrington.
The suits— which allege pay disparities stemming from years of racial and gender discrimination— were filed separately by six female LANL employees, the Hispanic Roundtable of New Mexico and a LANL labor union in 2003 and 2004, before being consolidated into a single case.
Attorneys representing employees in the case called the settlement agreement a milestone and said their clients "risked their careers" for equal pay.
"They succeeded in forcing the University of California to acknowledge that it owes compensation to the women and Hispanic employees that have been treated unfairly," attorney John C. Bienvenu said in a written statement released on Friday.
But LANL maintains that it committed no wrongdoing and has policies in place that prohibit pay discrimination.
Any pay disparities "were the result of legitimate business factors unrelated to sex or race," according to a court document that seeks preliminary court approval of the agreement.
"The settlement was done to avoid costly litigation that would have potentially cost millions and millions of dollars and would have taken potentially years to reconcile," lab spokesman James Rickman said by phone Friday.
In 2003, a LANL study known as the Welch Report found significant pay disparities for four out of 30 worker groups that it evaluated, with workers in those groups earning about 1.5 percent to 2.3 percent less than their white male counterparts.
The employees who later sued the lab alleged that the Welch report actually understated the disparity.
Loyda Martinez, a lead plaintiff in the case, said in a written statement that New Mexico is ranked among the highest in the nation for the percentage of women, especially women of color, living in poverty.
"The Los Alamos National Laboratory has been here for 64 years and with these statistics should be ashamed," she said.
Under the terms of the agreement, regular, limited-term and short-term employees who worked at the lab between Dec. 10, 2000, and the date the settlement gets preliminary court approval are eligible to file claims for compensatory damages and back pay.
In addition to the monetary relief, the lab agreed to implement a new hiring policy to help correct pay disparities and will undertake "best efforts" to provide child-care services to lab workers. The lab also committed not to retaliate against employees who participated in the lawsuit.
The agreement comes as UC prepares to hand over management duties on June 1 to a new contractor, Los Alamos National Security, a new limited liability corporation led by Bechtel National and UC.
"This settlement comes at a critical moment for one of the nation's most prominent national laboratories," said Laura Barber, a lead plaintiff in the case. "We are confident that this settlement will send a message to the current and future operator of Los Alamos National Laboratory, as well as other government contractors, that women are entitled to equal pay for equal work."
Last year, Barber filed another federal lawsuit that accused lab managers of retaliating against her for filing the discrimination lawsuit.
The retaliation lawsuit will be dismissed, under the proposed settlement, said Barber's attorney, Patrick D. Allen.
Yolanda Garcia, Loyda Martinez, Gloria Bennett and Yvonne Ebelacker are the other lead plaintiffs in the discrimination suit.
If approved, their settlement won't be a first for UC-run national laboratories. In 2003, UC agreed to a $10 million settlement to more than 3,000 female employees at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. That settlement also included $8.2 million in attorney fees.


Comments:
"New Mexico is ranked among the highest in the nation for the percentage of women, especially women of color, living in poverty."

Obviously the lab is not properly performing it's primary mission: to provide employment for residents of northern NM, no matter how lazy or unqualified.
 
So pay disparity, according to KB above, is somehow rooted in the idiotic notion that New Mexicans are somehow "lazy and unqualified" by design? The beauty of a blog is that even stupid people have an equal opportunity to make a total ass of themselves...and you scored a bulls eye on this one KB!
 
Looks like law school might be a better career path than engineering or science.
 
The twelve million settlement will only be a drop in the bucket compared to the damage done to bright, well educated women at LANL. France Cordova left LANL years ago on the grounds that there was no place for women at LANL. She is a UC Chancellor now. Countless others have left as well and moved on to better careers elsewhere.
For those who did not leave LANL, it has been constant insults as they watch less qualified men get big raises and fancy administrative positions. Some were actually told, their job was to train the less qualified person who was promoted over them.
LANL will never be a great scientific institution if it rejects a large percentage of the most capable people among women, Hispanics and other minorities. We need all the brains available to us, in order to succeed.
LANL's insecure management uses any excuse it can come up with to thwart people they fear are more talented than themselves.
 
HeyBabyQuePaso - the point of KB's post was that many people are benefiting from the rallying cry of 'discrimination', not that everyone in NNM falls into a particular class.

There is a lot of entitlement in this state, and I've seen lots of people promoted to keep race and gender statistics in line. I've also seen a few individuals coerced into writing outstanding reviews for others who absolutely didn't deserve it. These particular beneficiaries do less work, are less qualified, and have the view that the Lab owes them as individuals, not as members of a class. In fact, in one specific case, the lazy person was given credit for work that a colleague of mine performed, yet my colleague was told to keep quiet about it so as not to take anything away from the lazy person's self-esteem. This is not 2nd hand - the conversation happened in my presence, and I have the right context.

I'd say the beauty of a blog is that opinions get out there, and maybe some reality checks happen along the way. Your post shows that you can place a comment in your own pigeon hole and misrepresent someone else's view.

long gone has the right idea - for those who are capable and willing to contribute. In an ideal world, recognition should be blind to race and gender, but there have been discriminatory practices here just like everywhere else. And in some places, that tide is going the other way. I've fallen prey to that effect, having watched uneducated people promoted to my level because the group wanted an outside view of a higher minimum tech level. Yet I've been denied interviews and applications to higher positions within my own team, despite exceeding all stated qualifications in the job ad.

Fair treatment does not mean substituting one class with another.
 
If we lived in a world where the best qualified were actually the ones being rewarded, then I'd agree with the notion that class settlements tend to reward too many underserving people. But when you look at GW sitting at a conference table with members of his cabinet, or observe the U.S. Congress in session, I think it's pretty apparent that white males aren't about to lose control over the levers of power any time soon. On the contrary, were it not for white male dominance we never would have had the many memorable debacles of recent decades, like the Savings & Loan collapse of the early 90s, the stock market crash of 2001, the middle east wars and associated high gas prices and, of course, who could forget the Enron's and WorldComs of the world and the millions that paid the price because of their "brilliant" leaders. So before anyone starts moaning about a few minorities and women getting a small windfall, perhaps we should clean up the much bigger mess that's out there. It's a thousand times greater threat to our children and their collective futures than is the notion of equal opportunity. Yes, no doubt it is easier to attack the welfare Mom, minorities and other disadvantage groups who occassionally bilk the system, but its the military industrial complex, corporate greed and the arrogance of those in charge that's tearing at the fabric of our diverse nation and gutting our collective future.

PS In a free society all voices need to be heard, including that of KB. I shouldn't have suggested otherwise. For that I'm sorry.
 
HeyBabyQuePaso - are you implying that those in power are screwing things up *because* they are (generally) white males? Because it would be just as easy to say that Mexico's problems stem from being populated by Mexicans. I don't buy that, sorry.

As for 'best qualified', it sounds like you are saying white males are the least qualified, which is yet another race and class association. This white male has been actively discriminated against in the workforce as well as in school. I couldn't rely on race or gender-based scholarships, was excluded from consideration for certain groups because they needed more minorities, and watched my campus fill up with race-specific groups. Had I started a white pride group, I'd have been labeled racist. Yet La Raza and others are vocally bigoted, pro-Hispanic organizations that have no problem spitting on whites and getting away with it.

Here at LANL, I see this same class distinction. Because I'm white, but in the blue-collar workforce, it's assumed I have an "in" for promotions, that I make more, etc. Newsflash: it ain't true.

What is missing from most of these reports and disclosures is a way to give an objective metric on suitability of the individual. Some people will benefit from this settlement without demonstrating any qualifications, but solely on the basis of race or gender. This labels the entire class 'victim'.

What if performance actually *were* tied to race or gender, and it happened to be that women and Hispanics actually did score lower? I am not implying this is the case, but if these results were true, for the sake of argument, do you think it would matter? Not a bit, because then the metric would have to be redefined to scale properly for 'differently abled' employees. Only the ratio between content and performance would count, so naturally one would lower the expectations of those who failed to compete, thus levelling the salary field. Thanks to the California school system for providing that model.

I see that happening here, too. Some people who perform poorly are given less content, but assigned a similar content score to their peers. Then they apparently outperform and are rewarded with promotions and raises.

Worse, this is lauded by the diversity groups as being proactive. It has nothing to do with objective comparisons of ability and performance.
 
Not trying to stereotype anyone or any group. Just trying to point out that there are plenty of greedy arrogant screwups in every culture, every State, every country, every gender (both). And equal opportunity is about giving everyone an equal opportunity to be one of the idiots at the helm. We ain't there yet...not by a long shot.
 
My posting wasn't intended to imply that all new mexicans are lazy or unqualified. It was a Monday morning expression of my frustration with the sense of entitlement I have seen a lot of since returning to the lab 5 years ago.

One of the problems that the lab has had is the hiring of new people at a higher salary than people who have been working in the same or similar jobs for years. Then the lower-paid, experienced worker has to train the higher-paid worker to do his/her job, and get pretty pissed at having to do it. Unfortunately, if the new worker is white and the experienced worker is female or a minority, it appears to be sexism or racism has taken place, when the real problem is hiring policies.

Being a white man, I get to hear the comments white men make when women or minorities are not around. One thing I have NEVER seen at the lab is sexism. I'm not saying it doesn't happen, but I've never seen it. I work with a number of women who are world renowned experts in their fields, and nobody has anything but the highest respect for their scientific ability. Of course people do disagree with decisions they have made in management positions, but that has nothing to do with their plumbing.

I have heard racist comments, but someone else can address that issue because I'm tired of typing.
 
So where/how do we Hispanic Women
who have been screwed over for many years file a claim??
 
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