Apr 19, 2007

Rumor Mill

Let’s still keep it anonymous please... I still gotta protect myself somewhat.

Let’s get the rumor mill going again. Otherwise the blog is kinda blah… I like it all but I want to know what’s going on right now. And thanks for picking up the blog. It is our only source of information…

Rumor 1: There is a FTE shortfall at LANL for LANS to meet PBIs, etc.

My thoughts… FTE shortfall from needed manpower. LANS doesn’t need support or admin or ??? They need engineers. So does this mean that a RIF, in 50 person increments to be able to meet AM 114, could be imminent to reduce support admins and support. Hey, rid the lab of 2000 of those classifications mean hire 1000 of the right mix to meet PBIs.

Rumor 2: Mass exodus of Bechtel people in June. They were brought here in June to do a job. Most have been given a stipend to live here to pay for house payments, etc. Many bought $1M houses in Santa Fe and come June are faced with paying their own $4000/mo mortgage. I do hear that Bechtel people are asking now to be transferred someplace else, even before the 2 year mark because they can’t afford to be here.

Rumor 3: LANL has paid out $20M more in payroll thus far than in the past.

My thoughts – friggin’ yes. Given the high salaries of the new Bechtel folks, the new ADs, etc. No surprise there.

Any thing else out there??


Anonymous said...

Re: rumor 2, they are waiting until June 1 because they have to pay back their housing stipends if they leave sooner.

Anonymous said...

And 200 people to be let go or reassigned from WT.

Anonymous said...

At will... Rif...

I sat in on a discussion with HR and Staff Relations a couple of days ago.
The bottom line of the discussion is that "There will be no Rif." However, they are assembling "tools" for terminating people for cause.

The approach to be taken is to use the "Disciplinary" process to fire "under performers." So, in otherwords, it will now be the policy that you can be fired for not being a stellar performer. You would be put on a performance action track with a mandate "to improve." So, I can hear it now, " Joe/Jane, you have been under performing and are at risk of being terminated if you do not accomplish at least one of the following:
- Receive a Nobel Prize
- Become a lab fellow
- Get appointed to the National Academy of Science
- Publish ground breaking new work
- Bring in 10x your costs (~$4 million)
- or Make everyone else look really bad in comparison."

Being a steady, reliable worker (as opposed to a "...shining star in the [scientific] firmament..." will now make you subject to disciplinary action. Great world, eh?

Anonymous said...

Has anyone noticed how many new Divisions were created under LANS? Historically, there were about 60; now there must be 120 or more listed under Organizations. Each has a highly compensated DL and a support staff of 20 - 40...

LANS is now workfare for displaced defense contractor personnel. Sadly, they must RIF or otherwise shed at least 3 trained workers to cover expenses of each new DL.

ps to LANS: The DOE "fee" criteria for science (usually jokingly called Publish or Perish) DOES NOT mean "Org Charts" in "Bureaucracy Rev B".

Anonymous said...

disciplinary actions to fire underperformers......sheeeeeeit. I thought the under performers were the ones getting the best raises

Anonymous said...

"I thought the under performers were the ones getting the best raises"

Only the under-performing managers...

Anonymous said...

There is no more "Performance Action Track." The process has been streamlined, and it is now possible to fire under-performers in under three weeks. Anybody in the bottom 15% of their peer group should be worried.

Anonymous said...

i've worked with some trash, sorry "underperformers", but they were great at gossip and networking so they were promoted.

It is time to take out the trash

Anonymous said...

A bit over 10 years ago, HR came up with a proposal that every year, the bottom 5% of performers would be terminatd. Bell Labs had a similar program. OF course, HR would have to hire more people to administer the program so they would not have had to participate.

And, the terminations would have to be to be balanced with regard to the racial, sexual, sexual preference, etc. demographics of the workforce.

Now, although I hate to say it, but we do not exactly hire the cream of the crop in the overhead areas, more like the cream of the CRAP.

Meanwhile, in the technical areas, we endeavor to hire the best graduates of the best universities (CalTech, MIT, Berkely, etc). Yes, we do hire a few from UNM, but mostly in Facilities Engineering, again in an overhead area.

SO, had this program been implemented, a top graduate in science from one of our top educational institutions would have faced an annual threat of being terminated at 5% probability.

Anonymous said...

LANS is coming up with new employee position buckets. No more TSM, SSM etc.
So you will now be an Engineer-3,Account-2, blowhard-1 whatever.

Along with the new title you will have a new salary range. If the new salary range is lower than your current salary, you won't get a deduction, just no more raises period.

You can get rid of a lot of people when they know that no matter how well they perform, they will not get a raise.

Anonymous said...

the new job-grade is meaningless and 90% of the employees will be right where they are now, just called something different. And how much money is being spent on this foolishness?

Clearer career paths (but there's no money for training), less distinction between TSM and SSM (but no real adjustments in pay and SSMs still get nothing for graduate degrees), and it makes transfers easier (but there's nowhere to go).

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 4/20/07 7:43 PM said...

"LANS is coming up with new employee position buckets."

This business of a "structured series" for TSMs comes around about 5 years. It is pushed by the DOE and, of course, by HR. So, right there, with HR and DOE pushing it you should not need futher explanation to understand that this is a bad concept.

With a single classification for TSMs we have avoided the nonsense of re-classification gaming that goes on in the TEC, SSM, and ASM groups.

The arguement that other labs have a structured series for TSMs is irrelavant.

The transition from our present non-structured system would be extremely painful. Race and sex would have to be considered to make sure that all of the C-grade graduate of UNM are ranked up there with the PhDs from Berkeley. There will be lawsuits.

LANL management has successfully fought it off every time. But, now it would seem that LANS management favors this. Once again, a stupid idea by association!

Anonymous said...


So what's your point? That getting a PhD from Berkeley will be equivalent to getting a grad degree from UNM as far as LANL salaries go? If so, this matters because...?

Your comment seems to indicate that you are more concerned with salary than the nature of the work. If you based your salary and career prospects on getting a PhD from Berkeley (say), and you did not go into academia, by choice or otherwise, might I suggest you review your decision in light of the following.

Some commentary from about 10 years ago:


and more recently:


See Figs. 5 and 6.

Anonymous said...

8:25... the point is that equivalent degrees are "rewarded" differently depending on which job class you're in and that the new pay grades supposedly level that field.... they won't for just the reasons you mention. I'm not arguing that all support staff should be paid the 100K+ that TSMS get.

BUT although on paper, SSMs are graded by "years from Bachelors" and "graduate degrees," in reality they are not.

My prediction is that the new "grading" method will bog and mire and certainly not be completed by end of Sept as we were told. It's a can of worms that will create more sour grapes than we have have now. How's that for mixed metaphors?

Anonymous said...

I don't doubt there will be sour grapes, that's for sure. Whether it's worse than now remains to be seen.

The Director, per yesterday's testimony, is "...trying to stabilize morale". Man, that's a good line. I'm still trying to figure out how he has any accurate read on morale level to stabilize: good, bad or indifferent. Is there some morale metric or survey I missed?

Many people I talk to seem to place less importance on work these days. Come to work, do my job, keep my head down, etc. I definitely see way fewer people staying late. To me, that doesn't equate exactly to morale level - it seems more a sign of a workforce that's tough to motivate.

Anonymous said...

My new philosophy is that you don't want to be a poor performer. But you also don't want to be a shining star right now either. You'll be given some piece of crap to clean up and if you can't do it then you become a poor performer.

Middle of the road and keep your head down.

Anonymous said...

Morale is low anywhere you look across the lab. No one really expects anything "good" to happen now. It's a day-to-day deal with no expectations. How is Anastasio gonna fix that? You can't fix it if you don't even recognize it.