Jun 10, 2007

Update Regarding UCRP Contributions

Since the original topic of concern has been buried with blasting peoples shorts off, I am afraid that this question will never get answered. I believe that this would be of interest to all of us now since the UC has decided that they need 16% donations to keep the fund at 80%.


I want to know if the people in TCP-1 at both labs are now going to have to start contributing 5% of their pay checks per month. Can anyone find out where it says the people at both labs that went or are going TCP-1 are exempt from this donation? My feeling is that once the UC or these pension plans get their claws into you they will just keep taking more as the years go on. For some of us this could mean pay cuts in the neighborhood of $640.00 -- $1,280.00 a month depending on your salary.

Thank you,


Anonymous said...

LANS will probably phase in the necessary salary reductions to keep TCP1 afloat so, yes, your LANL salaries will be moving backwards in the next few years. Might as well get resigned to that fact. Nothing is going to be as it was before. Of course, the TCP1 trustees could reduce some of the pain by using private hedge funds and taking more risk with pension investments, but do you really want to treat your retirement assets like chips at a casino? Of course, those who went with TCP2 will not be feeling any of this pension pain. That's going to make some of the TCP1 people start to feel buyer's remorse.

Anonymous said...

If you selected TCP1 based on the graphs that LANS showed at their presentations, you may want to go back and recalculate just how much better TCP1 really is than TCP2 when you have 15 years to go at LANL and you'll be forking over a large wad of your salary to the TCP1 pension for the rest of your career. I have a suspicion that LANS favored TCP1 over TCP2 because TCP1 created *future* liabilities, while TPC2 creates *current* liabilities (i.e., it directly hits the operating budget). Depending on how things go, LANS may never even have to deal with a TCP1 funding fiasco when the majority of the TCP1 employees start wanting their monthly pension checks.

Anonymous said...

LANS has been strangely quiet about the state of the TCP1 pension. We know it is starting out with a big funding shortfall, based on the minimal amount of money UC decided to fork over. Even stranger still is why the staff at LANL that selected TCP1 haven't been asking more hard question about their pension assets.

Anonymous said...

11:45 may be right. The TCP2 payments have been quietly mentioned as one of this year's budget challenges.

Eric said...

I know the details at LANS. I am working on getting accurate details for LLNS.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 6/11/07 6:37 AM said...

"11:45 may be right. The TCP2 payments have been quietly mentioned as one of this year's budget challenges."

Does "budget challenge" mean that LANS will try to screw us out of it?

Anonymous said...

Contributions to TCP1 are certain, and whether lans can keep it to 5% for an employee remains to be seen. UC may end at that with there collective bargaining... but who knows here in NM. TCP1 is a juicy defined benefit plan so there is a clear and large return on the contributions (we hope). I took this into account on my TCP1/TCP2 decision, and went with TCP2 for many reasons, contributions included. But each case is unique.

Anonymous said...

When you look at the true inflation rate in the US, most LANL workers are already falling behind. The official government rate is around 2.5%, but they remove real-world expenses like energy, insurance, buying a house, etc. It's 2.5% only if you live off of nothing but cheap Chinese VCRs bought from Walmart. The true rate of inflation is running closer to 5% and is quickly accelerating. Last year's average 2.5% raise doesn't even come close to keeping up with true living expense. Raises for this next year will also be very small to non-existent given the dismal state of LANL's budget for FY08.

Financially, you're already falling backwards if you work at LANL. Contributions to the TCP1 pension will just help accelerate the process.

Anonymous said...

Mike has an All-Hands meeting planned for this week. Perhaps staff should start asking him some tough questions about the pension and the FY08 budget - not that you'll get any good answers, but at least LANS will be put on the spot about giving us some answers.

Then, again, perhaps it's easiest to just smile and ask what we can do about those awful LANL drivers and when, exactly, will we see that LANL-sponsored child care facility.

Anonymous said...

The one year hold on DOE's Notice 351.1 is almost up. You can read the memo here:


I suspect Sam Bodeman and his buddies at DOE HQ will soon be looking for means to go forward with benefit reductions. Retirement medical may be at risk and those generous payouts for TCP1 might need a downward adjustment to make Sam a Happy Man. I doubt Sam will agree to having LANS fork over 11% of the 16% shortfall in TCP1 funding given the tone of the above memo.

Anonymous said...

Having LANS paying roughly 10% of the TCP1 contribution would ordinarily not be out of line, since, for example, that's about what they're paying for TCP2. The employee has to pick up the rest to keep the plan solvent. However, the fringe rate has not been adjusted in 15 years to account for the need for contributions, and UCRS is planning a staged introduction at their campuses. This year our fringe went up a relatively small amount, so I doubt we have yet to see the full impact in the budgets.

Roughly 16% of payroll is what is projected to SUSTAIN TCP1. The recent transfer from UCRS to TCP1 left it already underfunded by at least $120M, and probably greater, so we may need even a greater percentage to get it back on track, and we need that change overnight, not staged.

Fringe costs have to skyrocket, greatly increasing the budgetary pain.

The TCP1 Summary Benefit plan has been submitted in the last few months, does anyone know when the Full Benefit plan will be submitted and vetted? That's when we'll probably see the official accounting of just how much is needed to catch up and sustain the plan.

Anonymous said...

I would like to congratulate all of you for staying on topic. I only wish every post went this well. In the few years that I have been watching these blogs this post should stay at the top just to give people a feel for what a blog should be. Thanks to all. Information, information, information.. Thanks to all. I am sure once the 8000+ employees at LLNL read this the tide will change direction.

Anonymous said...

Having read this post and all of the comments I would say that anyone at LLNL who goes TCP-1 is in for a treat that may not be so tasty. Looks like TCP-2 is the way to go where you can take the money while the going is good. I am sure you've figured out that as people retire and UC employees become scarce contributions will diminish, leaving your retirement funds totally supported by the younger task force that stay at these facilities. I wonder how long it will be before they ask the magic question. Who will be there to fund "my" retirement when I am sixty. I wonder if they will wise up and understand that they need to take care of # 1 and it can not happen in TCP-1. I think this mandatory contribution issue is an eye opener for all.

Anonymous said...

The state of California is
not in that great financial
shape either. See


Its not clear how long they
will have the resources
to continue covering short falls in the UC pension.

At least the Federal gov't,
unlike state governments,
can print money.

Anonymous said...

Indeed,nothing at Los Alamos. sparks so much passion than talk about the the Lab's retirement plans. First things first.

Anonymous said...

Indeed,nothing at Los Alamos. sparks so much passion than talk about the Lab's retirement plans. First things first.
6/11/07 9:57 PM

You are ABSOLUTELY correct. Is there anything else of more importance, besides your health and the benefits it takes to remain that way ? There really is a life outside the complex perimeter and working until death is not appealing to me. A normal person's goal is to think about the future well in advance and prepare for retirement starting at age twenty or so, not in the fifties after someone rips the carpet out from under you.

Anonymous said...

There was an excellent spreadsheet program posted by a LANL employee last year, that had the feature of letting you factor in your guess at the rate of employee contribution to TCP1. You could then calculate guesstimates of the total dollar value over your presumed lifetime for TCP1 vs TCP2.

Anyone have that link to his program handy?

Anonymous said...

So what does the TCP acroynm stand for? DOE insiders say it stands for Totally Clueless Population. Others tell me it stands for Tenous Cowboy Population 1 & 2.

Anonymous said...

I have few comments about this topic for both TCP1 and TCP2. I went TCP2.

TCP1 was always expected to at least require the UC level of employee contributions. This was also a field in the XL spreadsheet to estimate the consequence of employee contributions. More alarming is that the age factors can also change (be reduced) at anytime with written notice until you are actually retired. They honored the substancially equivalent for one year. Im also interested to the the first LANS pension report required by ERISA.

The details of the UC splits of the pension fund is detailed in the Segal report on the Regents page (buried).
Related to Noice 351.1 the DOE/HQ asked for ideas from the public about how to control the costs of these increasing, although predictable, pension and retiree medical expenses. The DOE quotes the average market based 401k employer match is 3.2%.

This leads to TCP2. Yes cash now is nice but this is required to be adjusted to market every year by a benval study. Remember the POS benval for LANL/LLNL in 2004 from the LANL competition page? The LANL pension split also had a written agreement that DOE signed so that the DOE would makeup short falls to the UC pension for the retirees/inactives/survivors. They have no paycheck to tap and the UC campus employees won't get this DOE bill. It will be interesting to see what DOE does when the first bill shows up from UC. UC dates the annaul report on the UCRS in June published much later.

We can all run regression analysis of what we predicted in TCP 1 and 2 XL sheet and the ACTUAL (experimental data)results every year.

Anonymous said...

"Indeed, nothing at Los Alamos. sparks so much passion than talk about the the Lab's retirement plans. First things first."

Incorrect. Every day my coworkers and I try to figure out how to make sure the Lab stays on track to meet its PBIs so that LANS can earn its maximum fee. We've been told we all have a shared interest. No doubt you are doing the same?

Anonymous said...

What the heck is really going on with the state of TCP1? LANS has told us almost nothing about it. Will we need to start contributing our salaries to it, and how much? Have the TCP1 pension assets finally been transferred over from UCRP to TCP1? What investments are being made for TCP1, or what investments are planned?

So many question, and yet so few answers. This is very strange when you realize that many workers at LANL have a huge stake in the final outcome of the TCP1 pension.

Anonymous said...

Strange indeed!

Anonymous said...

We have heard that $1.3B has been transferred to LANS for TCP-1 wishful thinkers, so the pot of $$'s at UCRP is getting smaller as we speak, and with that comes less earnings to support all of those people. Can you say, "more contributions please". This saga will go on as more people at LLNL go TCP-2 than TCP-1 and start drawing what they have earned immediately .I do not see this getting any better because as the young people find out that all they will have for retirement is a 401K with 6% matching they are going to go some place that 1)pays more, 2) has profit sharing, 3) 401k dollar for dollar matching, 4) stock options and patent rights for their hard work. The goal will be, go where they give the most money and when abused take your 401K and go somewhere where they appreciate you. Just watch. It's the way of the new and improved world where the governments goal is to work you until you are dead and in the end you do not get to collect a dime.

Anonymous said...

Why we all got boned in the nutshell. See page 91 of the ENERGY AND WATER DEVELOPMENT APPROPRIATIONS
BILL, 2008

"The Committee notes that the three DOE contracts with disproportionate
retiree benefits far outpacing the Federal DOE workforce
are the three nuclear weapons design laboratories—Sandia
National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, and Lawrence
Livermore National Laboratory. The Department is directed
to assess reducing the government’s liabilities and normalizing the
pension benefits across the DOE complex by reducing the disproportionately
generous pension plans at the NNSA national laboratories.
The Committee recommendation includes a request for
the Government Accountability Office (GAO) report assessing the
adequacy of the Department’s analysis of pension and medical liabilities.
The Committee requests a preliminary report by October
1, 2007 and a final report due by December 31, 2007."

Yea, we sure got normalized didn't we? Is that what they call a good screwing in todays politically correct world?

Anonymous said...

More boning to come, looky here:


"The House Appropriations Committee suggested that one place to consider cuts might be in the benefits offered by the nation's three nuclear weapons design laboratories. Contracts at Sandia, Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore national laboratories have benefits far outpacing the DOE work force, it said."

I wonder how long it will be before someine finds this post and replies then tells us how good of a deal we got.

Terence said...

One important thing to keep in mind here, DOE, LANS, and LLNS managers: LANL and LLNL employees, many of them anyway, have the knowledge needed to design thermonuclear and other devices. They have devoted their entire careers to defending the USA. If the USA then turns on them and screws them in retirement, the probability that maybe just one of them might get a little bit disgruntled presents some disturbing possibilities. Better not mess up on keeping those promised TCP1 benefits coming, I'd say. I am not a LANL employee, but as someone with friends in the system, and feel it is necessary for someone to speak on their behalf.