Apr 13, 2007

Welcome to LANS...or in my case, adios.

Hey Pinky and the Brain, I have no problem having this
run with my name as it is the truth and there are many
people who can testify to that. I hope you don't bury
it some where in the blog because this demonstrates
how LANS is getting rid of people to save money.

Legal probably...Ethical? you be the judge....

I started working at LANL as a contractor employee in
September 1999. At that time I was employed by
Comforce Technical, a sub-contractor to LANL, which
was then managed by the University of California.

In April 2004 the Lab began a highly publicized
program called the Contingent Worker Project to
convert (so it said) the majority of contractor
employees to regular UC employment. At this point I
had already worked at the Lab as a contractor employee
for nearly 5 years. But because the CWP was not really
a conversion project, I had to apply for my own job in
order to get UC employment. But "conversion" was still
the casual word used for this hiring action because
the jobs were posted as "external," meaning they were
advertised to the general public.

The group (IM-1) I worked for was organized as a
"recharge" organization that places designers or
writers into a "central" or deployed position, and
then receives payment for that persons' work. The
worker charges time to various cost codes and the
money filters back to IM-1.

At the time of my "conversion" in September 2004, I
was on assignment to the Weapons Directorate and was
earning 100% recharge for IM-1. I began that
assignment April 2002. I was offered the opportunity
to apply for a UC regular position via a job ad
posted through HR. I applied for the position, was
interviewed and several weeks later offered the job,
but as a limited term not a regular employee!

I objected to this limited-term status and pointed out
that I had applied for a regular status job and that I
was one of very few employees on a deployed assignment
and was earning 100% recharge money for IM-1. I was
assured by the group and team leader (Ruminer and
Sandford) that it was merely a matter of their
renewing my term for an additional 1 or 2 years and
that this was a common practice so there was nothing
to worry about.

In early February 07 the new acting group leader of
IRM-CAS (Prono) announced that only one full-time
regular designer position would be offered but that it
required me to apply for it as a new job and that I
would have to compete against 4 other limited-term
designers as well as anyone at the Lab who is
qualified.

I decided that enough was enough and told my team
leader that I was going to retire even though I was 19
months short of receiving my full social security
benefits. I had been told by the deputy group leader
(Wangen) that my limited term would expire on March 31
however, a week later he decreed that my limited term
status would expire on March 1 instead of March 31,
there by causing me to lose 2 paychecks for March and
messing up my carefully made retirement plans.

There are other people within IRM-CAS that are, or
will be, affected by this decision to terminate
limited term people, and I am told that Lab-wide there
are 450 or more limited term employees.

Welcome to LANS...or in my case, adios.
Richard Summers

42 comments:

Anonymous said...

No surprise. That group has a long history of worker abuse, retaliation, and being a career development bone yard.

It's also a financial black hole as a recharge group and is a superb model as to why "deployment" doesn't work and is unfair to workers stuck in deployed positions (and serving two masters).

Centralizing some support services (writers, editors, designers, etc) keeps the IRM management afloat but does nothing for the customer or the workers. And there are people who have been deployed for YEARS but are still IRM employees. Zero career path for workers, big bill for customers.

If Summers had been hired directly into ADWEM in 2002 he'd most likely still have a job, but the deployed model had to be maintained to keep worthless and vindictive IM (IRM) team leaders and managers in their jobs.

The Contingent Worker Project was a public relations headline and little more. All these years later there are still contract workers who have not been hired, so LANS continues to support the contracting companies.

When all we hear is NO MONEY why are they still not converting these workers (as they apparently did with KSL) and cutting out the huge fees to contracting companies? Rather, LANS has been slowly firing limited-term employees and contractors in the holy name of ATTRITION but never RIF.

Anonymous said...

I can attest to everything in the post and the first comment. Neither UC nor LANS has done anything to cube these and other kinds of abuses. The fact is that each level of management only manages upward, kissing the ass of the next person above. Nobody pays attention to what the subordinate managers are doing.

Anonymous said...

Welcome to Corporate LANL. In the past, under UC many of us were treated with some type of compassion when it came to our employment...but no more. LAN"S is really no diffrent than any other large corporation and their attitude toward their workforce is based on the bottom line. Gone are the days when employee's were treated fairly, gone are the days when management did for the employees, here to stay is The corporatization of America, is just now getting to Los Alamos, many in the private sector having been working for Corporations for quite some time: Once you all get over the inital shock that this new company can be rid of you in an instant and for no reason, and once you accecpt this then , you too are ready for the new "Corporate America" if not, your life will be miserable and you will age much faster and the stress level will exceed anything youve' ever expected.

Anonymous said...

Shouldn't this article be posted on the LANL Jobs webpage?

Anonymous said...

I see no difference between UC and LANS. UC hired a lot of limited terms (560 was the count a while back) and treated them just like contractors. Funny when the UC limited-term employees transitioned into LANS they maintained their "limited term" status. Why?

Funny that when long-time contract employees transitioned into LANS they got SQUAT for their time working at LANL. No service credit. Why?

LANS merely maintained the status quo and continued the unfair labor practices that UC got away with for decades.

How many contractors, limit-term employees, and students has LANS already gotten rid of? All under the RIF radar of course.

No difference....

Anonymous said...

This post got it right. As another former "limited term" LANL TSM (originally promised a conversion to a regular UC TSM when my postdoc ended) who was screwed by LANL upper management before LANS took over, the best advice is to get out of there. There are lots of better career opportunities out there and far better more sane places to live than on the hill.

Anonymous said...

If Ross Perot could describe the IM-1/IRM mgt fiascos, he would certainly insert the "giant sucking sound" in there a few times! Of course they are getting fierce competition from IST and CTN.

Anonymous said...

I was a long-term contract employee in a non-recharge group, i.e. I was doing actual project work. In my group years of attempts to convert my position into that of a TSM were unsuccessful largely due to funding issues.

I concur about the lack of service credit for contractors and the general attitude. I should note however that I always had support at the group and division level.

Yes, there is life after LANL.

Anonymous said...

IM/IRM has always been one been shit hole with a pack of sows leading it. Why they have been allowed to wallow into LANS is anyone's guess. All recharge groups should be done away with. If they aren't worth funding via budget, then get rid of them and the pigs leading them. Bacon anyone?

Anonymous said...

While I feel for Summers, I have to ask -- what did he think "term employee" meant? If it meant the same as "regular employee" there wouldn't be a separate, er, term for it. Hiring term employees is a very common practice at present in corporate America including with my own Fortune-fifty employer. It's a way for an employer to staff up, then staff down if needed with minimum pain -- to them, of course. Anyone who accepts a term job runs the risk that the job will end when the term ends. Summers accepted the term job, so he doesn't really have much room for complaint in my never-humble opinion.

Anonymous said...

Ruminer (what a bitch), wheeler, prono, mauzy, mousseau, newell, johnson, ortiz, etc = a pack of LOSERS who all looked after their own fat asses. and look at the pack they have in there now. they must average a 9th grade education among them.

Anonymous said...

Dear 4/13/07 9:20 PM

You sorta missed some of the story there...The job posting was switched from regular UC to Ltd term without notifying the applicants until after they had applied and been accepted...as surprise...limited term. Bait and switch tactics? well, don't worry about it UC/LANS will take good care of you, in my humble opinion...
Summers

Anonymous said...

the job was advertised as a regular UC job. it was part of the "contingent worker project." it was only on "being hired" that he was told it was "limited term," even though he was in a 100% recharge deployed position and had been FOR YEARS. what don't you get? what sense did it make?

and where was HR to oversee this hiring process? IM hired half its contingent worker project people as limited term. None of the jobs were advertised that way. bait and switch is right.

but note the KSL people were all just recently converted without going through the bullshit hiring process...

plus the IM managers told him he'd be converted. a pack of lies.

Anonymous said...

4/13/07 6:29 PM here.. if my group had managed to get to the stage of actually offering a TSM position within the context of the CWP and subsequent plans who knows what my experience had been.

I went through several frustrating years of life 6 months at a time until the entire situation fall apart this FY. Very hard on my family to say the least.

The view from outside the laboratory is refrreshing - good people, interesting work, professional satisfaction. While many of my professional and personal contacts are missed, the overall environment is not.

I ending up leaving because I had to, in retrospect I should have done this years ago. The air is clear and the water is fine!

Anonymous said...

While the thrust of this post is on the "bait and switch" accusation on the conversion of positions to limited term, I do have a comment on the years of service issue. I don't believe that employees of LANL contractors should get years of service credit, You should only get credit for the years you work for an actual company or its legal successor. To do otherwise would cause chaos in the area of employee-employer relations and law. For example, should LANL employees (UC or LANS) who leave the lab for jobs in the federal government get serve credit for years worked at a federal facility? What about a feds who retires from NNSA's site office at LANL after 20 years working for the DOE/NNSA, and take a job with LANS/LANL - should they get both a federal pension and on their first day working for LANL 20 years of service credit towards a LANS retirement?

DOE has so screwed up the traditional employee-employer relationship with its meddling into the benefits programs of its contractor employees, requiring universal service credit for work at a DOE site would just made things more confusing. LANL employees are you better off under LANS or UC's retirement systems?

On that note, all contract employees should look at DOE's website that is requesting comments on how DOE can cut the cost of contractor employee benefit programs

DOE Public Comments Request

Anonymous said...

I totally disagree... The use of "contract" employees has been abused by UC for deacdes, using contractors as employees for years at a time without awarding them service credit. Contractors should be used for short-time and specific assignments and NOT for years-long general employment. As a contractor (5+ years) I still had to jump through all the clearance, security, and training hoops as the real employees.

If a contract employee is needed after 6 months, he/she should be converted or hired under some other designation. But to continue using contractors for YEARS is unethical.

The CWP was supposedly going to save $30M by "converting" the thousands of contractors at the lab. What happened to the need to save that money? They converted maybe 1/3 of the contractors and then juggled the number to claim 50%

There are still far too many contractors who have worked at the lab for YEARS and who will never get service credit. It's an issue of co-employment.

People yap about equal pay for equal work but contractors are still cheated out of their service credit working at (not for) the lab. The distinction between "at" and "for" is bogus.

Anonymous said...

While I certainly agree that the bait and switch in hiring is very inappropriate as well as unethical, I really do not think that it is appropriate for employees to get credit for their service as contract employees. This would never EVER happen in the real world.

While many individuals take contract jobs because they are unable to get UC/regular employment, I know of a number of UC employees who quit to take contract positions in order to get higher salaries. The typical situation is that a married couple kept one as a UC employee to get the medical converage while the spouse went contract to get the higher salary.

Anonymous said...

work at the lab is work at the lab...

UC screwed thousands of workers out of service credit and abused the system as it kept them on year after year after year.

of course there are instances where people would have preferred the higher pay (as you mention) but the great majority of contract workers continue to work as second class workers with the hope of being "converted."

LANS continues the same unethical work practice. Odd how there's no money to "hire" the contractors but there's money to pay the huge fees back to the contracting companies on top of paying the contract worker.

It's especially galling when, after having worked for years as a contractor, to finally get hired and STILL the service credit is not retroactive. It's cheating.

Anonymous said...

I was certainly part of the majority of contract workers that was hoping to be "converted". It was amazing how quickly the veils of illusion parted and I was reminded me that I was a second-class citizen. One moment a senior engineer and active member of the science community, the next moment nothing.

Clearly upper management is not looking at the actual contributions of contractors, just treating them as a lower class.

Anonymous said...

One of the reasons that LANL has continued to use so many contract employees for so long is that any kind of RIF is polically unacceptable. If LANL were allowed to operate like a REAL company and could hire and RIF people as the amount of work necessitated and the budget permitted, there would be no need for contract employees. While this sounds a bit harsh, this is how it's done in the REAL WORLD!

Anonymous said...

Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha....you just made me pee myself. You used ethical and LANL management in the same sentence. You are a brave soul my friend, but deeply confused.

Anonymous said...

bottom line is that Summers, after having competed for his own job and getting hired as limited term, was expected to YET AGAIN compete for his own job assignment for a regular LANS job (which by the way got canceled anyway). Limited term employees are supposed to be CONVERTED and not have to compete all over again since they ALREADY GOT HIRED by UC or LANS.

PLUS... it was only AFTER he told management he would not compete a SECOND time for his own job and would retire end of March that IRM turned around and fired him.

IM/IRM has always played these kinds of games with contractors and limited termers and somehow always gets away with it.

Anonymous said...

"One moment a senior engineer and active member of the science community, the next moment nothing."

Senior engineer? That sounds valuable. Meet your potential new colleagues. The best and the brightest. I'm just guessing, but I imagine they're willing to work for a bit less than the folks at LANL.

Bills Would Expand H1-B Visa Quotas

http://www.internetnews.com/bus-news/article.php/3671211

I'll let P&B post the article if they think it of interest.

Anonymous said...

I worked with Randy Summers some yeras ago. He is a good man with a sense of humor and considerable talent. I'm sorry to hear he's been treated this way. Farewell!

Anonymous said...

IRM is not the only division to play mind games with contractors. T Division has done the same for many years, especially the last 5 or so. Moreover T Division has generated multiple contracts with companies, and when one contract expires, they force their contract employees to charge against a totally different contract. Their arguement is that as long as the Division Office signs off, the work is legal, even if it's work that's not authorized by the contract.

Anonymous said...

Summers was treated shabbily by IM/IRM but then they screwed every contractor or limited term who ever worked for them. Note the recent job ads for editors in IRM also went unfilled and the limited termers "extended" through end of Sept. On and on it goes and the upper management never sees a thing.

Ombuds office told me a few years back they had more complaints about IM-1 than the rest of the lab combined. But then Ruminer, Mauzy and Wheeler got to retire before the transition. Too bad their fat lazy asses hadn't been kicked out years before.

Anonymous said...

Oh, has anyone noticed that some contractors seem to hang around much longer than their usefulness anyway? Notice how these contractors seem to have friends or relatives at the group/div mgt level?

And yet we continue to crap on the good contractors and terms by letting them go.

I'm counting the days until my departure from this lunacy.

Anonymous said...

I just moved from a shadow org. into IST-Apps. In my old group we had a defined software development process, a software QA process, version control software, and change control software. Now that I am in IST, we have nothing, absolutely zero infrastructure! Of course next year IST will have a big recharge on me to cover all the overhead necessary for providing nothing.

I hope my customer is will to increase my budget in order to pay the IST managment boneheads lots of money for nothing.

Anonymous said...

as I said.... recharge groups are bullshit and deployed employees get screwed. Every group should get to hire it's own workers and not have to support some stupid centralized group that offers does nothing. Where's the best business practice in that?

Case in point: Summers had been with ADWEM FIVE YEARS! What the hell is the sense in being a deployed worker for FIVE YEARS? How much did ADWEM waste by paying off IRM for a worker it could have just hired?

The whole deployed model shadow function thing is CRAP. A huge waste of money to support a bunch a centralized orgs that do NOTHING. Layers of management for no purpose whatsoever.

Plus the deployed worker brings the worthless management with him/her into the customer's business. None of it makes sense.

LANS should have scuttled the centralized model the day it took over. But apparently they shared the David Beck fanaticism about shadow jobs.

I bet Summers and the rest of the deployed IM workers provided Ruminer a big fat retirement pension for doing nothing in decades of UC service. What a joke.

Anonymous said...

A few years ago, I was FORCED to have some documents edited by this IRM group. It was disaster. They took forever. Every time that I visited the department, most of them were gone at meetings. Don't bother to call before 9AM as they had not arrived yet. I guessed that the workday was:

~9:00 AM arrive
11:30 AM go to lunch
1:30 PM return from lunch
4:00 PM go home

So, we are looking at about a five-hour workday here.

Anonymous said...

There are a lot of negative comments poseted here about the treatment of contractors and the performance of a few named groups.

Now, one would think that pro-active management would be reading this blog and looking into these complaints.

Any bets?

Anonymous said...

when I worked in the old IM group I was chided for being too fast. Since it's recharge we were indirectly "encouraged" to be slow. We had to charge our time to some project and then if we fell below 90% recharge time we'd be in trouble for not being productive no matter HOW much work we actually did. The recharge rate was the performance driver not the amount or quality of work. Makes sense, huh?

I still hear stories about web or editorial work that goes to IRM and disappears or gets totally screwed up... and then the astronomical bill comes.

But all this ties back into Summers at ADWEM where he had charged 100% to his client for FIVE YEARS. But even after the bait and switch hiring as limited term, he was still told they had to make sure the funding was stable before he could be a "regular" employee. ADWEM?

UC policy never called for limited term employees to have to re-apply for their jobs.

IRM's recent job ads for editors and designers were likely illegal since they were forcing limited-term employees to apply all over again. But then again they didn't even HIRE anyone. They simply extended the limited contracts yet again.

I imagine IRM isn't the only group that pulls this stuff but it's certainly at the forefront. and WHERE is HR during all this?

Anonymous said...

To 4/15/07 7:47 AM: Management look into any complaints? U gotta be kidding. They are part of the problem. Nobody from the top-5 are watching or care what is going on in their organizations. e.g., none of the top-5 pays any attention to what is going on in PADSTE. He has repeatedly gotten complaints about the unethical hiring practices done by the AD for CLES. She forced C-Division to hire a friend of hers from the UK and then forced them to hire her postdocs to work on her Pu chemistry efforts (which she somehow has time to micromanage despite being an AD). None have proved they could obtain any funding - they just all work for her. Her technician has been forced to continue to work for her and is not allowed to move on. She retaliates against anyone who upsets her husband (also in C-Div). She goes after anyone who questions her owning lab space or being an absentee landlord - she is using her position to advance her research programs. People are constantly worried about her going after them. The people and the managers in CIIAC fear for their jobs and just do as they are told from above. Does anyone of the PADs listen? Does anyone care? Of course not. If you ignore problems, then they do not exist. So why does anyone think management is going to read and act upon the complaints brought up in this post about the lack of ethics in the hirings/firings of people?

Anonymous said...

Wow! After reading some of these postings, I am sure that almost every group or division is suffering from lack of adaquate management, the writing is on the wall, LANL has turned into a mis-managed mess, and the funny thing is that everyone knows it...(including management)....But the big question remanins...How long will YOU put up with this, and will management continue to get worse? What a sad commentary....

Anonymous said...

Where is HR? Supporting upper management, of course. About 15 years ago there was a job advertised that I was doing as a staff member. It was listed for a Tech. I called the HR person associated with the job and said in my division there were about 5 people doing the same job, all as staff members. And I asked why the job was not listed for a staff member.

The HR person told me she had no choice but to list it as the Division Leader wanted it listed. I asked if HR kept track of all the job descriptions and whether they were filled by techs or staff members. You can all guess the answer.

And of course, the cheap division was -. You fill in the blank,

Anonymous said...

There are no real job postings anymore. There are phoney search committees filled with high-paid managers who in the end just hire the person who is "acting". I am sure people can come up with plenty of recent examples. No?

Anonymous said...

4/15/07 11:32 AM - you sound jealous of Mary. Lots of people would love to be ... uh ... queen; to have your cake and eat it too - it's a good thing!

Anonymous said...

Just about all the job postings I have been interested in since last fall or that have been applied for by my friends have come to nothing. None of the jobs happened. What's the point?

Are they just going through the motions and then appointing Bechtel buddies?

Anonymous said...

If you look at the job postings, first you will see that there a very few genuine TSM or TEC positions that are "open to all." Sure, there are some, but they are mostly in safety and compliance groups. Not much better under "LANL only."

The problem now is that if you are a TSM or at TEC and you work for a jerk or your funding is going away, there are not options. You are stuck where you are either to continue under the abuse from the jerk or awaiting the RIF.

Anonymous said...

Why so much stress?

In the big picture, LANS has got you covered. With a forecasted increase of FTEs on indirect, and a forecasted decrease of FTEs on direct, the current net forecast for the second half of the year is more FTEs on indirect than direct.

Anonymous said...

So when will Congress hold hearings regarding employee abuses occurring at Los Alamos? Indeed, when if ever will Congress have the guts or the integrity to listen to the unvarnished views of employees on the front lines who live the reality day-in and day-out of incompetent, self-serving and increasingly mean-spirited managers at Los Alamos National Laboratory--many if not most being hold outs of the former UC and DOE "world class" good ol boy club. But then again since when has Congress even given a damn about the plight of workers? So just keep voting these jerks in, and keep whinning while you're at it because nothing's going to improve. This, as Jack Nicholson might say, is "as good as it gets."

Pinky and The Brain said...

Thank you for your contribution to the blog and the lab, Richard. It was effective, refreshing, and inspirational.