Jul 11, 2007

Lab employees win better retirement benefits

NEW: Lab employees win better retirement benefits
By Betsy Mason, MEDIANEWS
Inside Bay Area
Article Last Updated:07/11/2007 06:18:11 PM PDT

After much protesting by Lawrence Livermore Lab employees about the
downgrading of their gold-plated retirement benefits under future corporate
management, a better deal has been forged.

A team of California and New Mexico Congress members, led by Rep. Ellen
Tauscher, D-Alamo, have pushed the Department of Energy to change key
provisions in its pension plans for Lawrence Livermore and Los Alamos
National laboratories.

"This is a huge victory for our security and for the lab employees who have
devoted their careers to keeping us safe," Tauscher said in a statement
Wednesday.

The new benefits still won't be as generous as those enjoyed by lab workers
under University of California management for decades, but the benefits
won't take a 20 percent hit as was planned.

Under the new plan, when the new manager takes over Oct. 1, Livermore
workers will be given the same benefits as Los Alamos workers currently have
under their new corporate manager, rather than lesser packages as was
planned.

Both lab management contracts were put up for bid by the Department of
Energy after a string of security and safety lapses sparked intense scrutiny
from the media and federal lawmakers. Both labs will be run by newly formed
corporations run by UC along with several corporations including Bechtel
Corp.

One of the fundamental reforms that had been part of the new management
contracts was a switch to retirement benefits tied to current corporate
standards.

Because average corporate benefits have dropped since new management took
over Los Alamos lab a year ago, Livermore employees were set to get pensions
worth less. Now benefits will be the same at both labs through June 2008
when they will be reassessed and set at 105 percent of the corporate
standard at the time.

The National Nuclear Security Administration, the semi-autonomous branch of
the DOE that oversees the nuclear weapons complex, received more than 4,000
comments on benefits in less than two weeks during a comment period that
ended July 2.

"We are committed to making sure that we have the fairest, best package
possible for employees," said NNSA spokeswoman Julianne Smith on Tuesday
before the new plan was announced.

The new deal will also give lab managers a say in the selection of
corporations to base the benefits assessment on, which will presumably
result in more favorable choices for workers.

In June, Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, co-signed a letter with Tauscher
and others to Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman expressing concerns about
planned benefits.

McNerney said his office was receiving more than 10 calls and e-mails an
hour on this issue, and several hundred people showed up at a meeting he
held July 2 to hear employee concerns about their benefits. He said younger
employees gave him the impression that they were ready to leave the lab over
the issue.

"The real concern is that if they don't offer attractive benefits, they
aren't going to be able to attract and retain the caliber of personnel
needed to assess national security issues," McNerney said.

Representatives Barbara Lee, D-Oakland; Mike Honda, D-Campbell; Tom Lantos,
D-San Mateo; and Dennis Cardoza, D-Atwater, also signed the letter. Tauscher
had also led several meetings with Energy Department officials on the matter
and wrote a second letter to Secretary Bodman along with Democratic Sen.
Dianne Feinstein and New Mexico senators, Democrat Jeff Bingaman and
Republican Pete Domenici.

Contact Betsy Mason at (925) 847-2158 or bmason@cctimes.com.

http://www.insidebayarea.com/trivalleyherald/ci_6352409

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wait until the next Ben-Val study, then NNSA will have a chance to whittle it down again. I really thought that NNSA wouldn't budge on this one.

Anonymous said...

NNSA cannot withstand serious pressure from the CA delegation. They can the NM one, but not CA.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone have details about why NNSA budged?

Thanks.

Anonymous said...

The NNSA budged because it wasn't LANL.

Anonymous said...

Yes. See 9:20pm comment.

Anonymous said...

"Does anyone have details about why NNSA budged?"

Well, when you get 4,000 comments and a Director that was pretty forceful about the impacts, sometimes stuff happens....

Anonymous said...

"NNSA cannot withstand serious pressure from the CA delegation. They can the NM one, but not CA." 9:29 pm

Don't make me laugh. You're living in denial. Come next June, DOE will simply implement the 105% BenVal cuts they originally wanted. They gave LLNL crumbs, yet you're licking them up like it was caviar.

Perhaps this was DOE's plan from the beginning -- make it look like they were giving up something, yet, in reality they gave up almost nothing.

Anonymous said...

"Now benefits will be the same at both labs through June 2008
when they will be reassessed and set at 105 percent of the corporate
standard at the time."

At which time both labs will be synced and screwed. Nice try though.

Anonymous said...

Regardless of how it got done or why, now people can go TCP-2 and at least get what LANL got, plus I think we are both good until June of 2008 when a new ben-val will be done. At that time we may get lucky and keep what we have or we will_both_ get cut of at the knees. This is not UC any more and those benefits you have now, may not be what you have in the end; for TCP-1 or TCP-2. Bank on nothing and if in the end you have something then you have done well, my friends. Again, to all of those who took the time and effort to comment, I thank you.

Anonymous said...

"...have pushed the Department of Energy to change key provisions in its pension plans for Lawrence Livermore and Los Alamos National laboratories."

Anyone know what these changes in key provisions are for LLNL and LANL (besides picking the comparator group and LLNL getting the same non-contributory match in TCP2 as LANL)? Presumably, LLNL and LANL will need to use the same comparator group to stay on the same page starting in '08.

Whine on/ Geez, if we want to be identical, why can't LANL get another 16 mos of retirement service credit under UC like LLNL? /Whine off

Anonymous said...

Many LLNL employees are being screwed by the loss of the reciprocal agreement between the University of California Retirement Plan (UCRP) and the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS). This probably was not that big a deal for LANL since is in NM, but a lot of LLNL employees worked at public entities in CA that were part of CalPERS. Some LLNL employees I know are looking at a 30% loss of benefits give the UCRP/CalPERS reciprocal agreement affects service credit, highest average plan compensation (HAPC), and the formula used to calculate disability, retirement, and/or death benefits under each system.

Unless this issue is resolved, the NNSA comment - "We [NNSA] are committed to making sure that we have the fairest, best package possible for employees..." is a complete joke and hollow promise.

I wonder how NNSA employees would feel if congress decided that there was no reciprocal between DOE and NNSA, and that their years of service with DOE prior to NNSA being formed would not count towards their retirement benefits and government pensions.

Anonymous said...

The trend at the labs is downward. Less pay, fewer benefits, and poor job security. I'm afraid this little tidbit thrown out to the workers at LLNL really doesn't amount to very much.

The new privateers will soon have control over LLNL and follow NNSA's dictates to screw the workforce. You'll then begin to experience a very different world, and not a very pleasant one at that.

Anonymous said...

I've heard of that different place, I think it's called the "Real World".

Anonymous said...

This little morsel will not be enough to feed the young in Livermore. Many have already expressed there intent to leave in September. The Best and Brightest are jumping ship before it leaves the dock. W.E’s at the lab are being pushed to the tar pits for recycling. All this weapons knowledge and no one to teach….. just another job Americans are not willing to do. (no glory, no chics, no money) But… I here there are some Paki designers looking for work. ;P

The devils den

Anonymous said...

I think people are out of touch with reality. Cost cutting will be done by reducing benefits and halving salaries. This is "newspeak" (Orwell, 1984)... Not by (the oldspeak method) of decreasing unnecessary paperwork and the number of aficionados.

Anonymous said...

8:56 am, you know, why should LANL feel sorry for and support LLNL. Where was LLNL when LANL was getting screwed?

Anonymous said...

Yes, get off our blog and get your own.

I find it amazing that the LLNL people have never found this blog http://llnl-the-corporate-story.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

10:40 PM asks where was LLNL when LANL was getting screwed. We were tied to the railroad tracks waiting for the train to come run over us. The rope for tying us down was supplied by the foul ups at LANL.

Anonymous said...

The rope was supplied by NNSA, Congress and a hostile media, and not by LANL. And, yes, where the hell is the LLNL blog? Are you people too lazy to create your own? LANL workers have managed to keep an active blog going in one form or another for over 3 years. While the signal-to-noise ratio has varied at times, it has also been an invaluable means to get at the real story of what is occurring inside LANL.

Anonymous said...

Yes, LLNL is too lazy to maintain their own blog. Too lazy *and* too gutless. As usual, they rely on LANL to do their work for them, and then complain about the quality.

Pinky and The Brain said...

Actually LLNL has a new blog. It is about a week old now. Take a look here.

Anonymous said...

Congrats, LLNL!!

Anonymous said...

To 12:26. LANL supplied the rope. They did that with Wen Ho Lee, Misplaced disk drives showing up behind a copy machine, Bussolini buying whatever he fancied, a buyer buying a Mustang. We can discount the Crem de Meth, that happened after the train ran over us all.

UC was an absentee landlord. Both at LANL and LLNL. Both Labs were run in the way each wanted to.

So congress, NNSA and the media made Wen Ho, Bussolini, Mustang lady, unknown disk drive culprits do their deeds and LANL has no culpability nor any responsibility. I don't buy that. Did we deserve to get whacked as hard as we did. In our minds, no. In the minds of many looking in from the outside, they proably feel it was overdue.

Anonymous said...

Lazy? 7/13/07 12:26 PM

LLNL-The-Corporate-Story is right here:

http://llnl-the-corporate-story.blogspot.com/

Pass the URL around and leave this one for the LLNL employee, but please join in if you'd like. We are interested to see what is happening at LANL too.