Nov 21, 2007

LANL Paid Salaries Of $911M Last Year

ABQ Journal
Wednesday, November 21, 2007

LANL Paid Salaries Of $911M Last Year

By Raam Wong
Journal Staff Writer

LOS ALAMOS— Congress' failure to pass a 2008 budget will likely mean a funding shortfall for the nation's nuclear weapons complex, job losses at Los Alamos National Laboratory— and for one local hair stylist, fewer heads of hair to cut.

Ruby Maes works here at Hair Experts, one of countless northern New Mexico businesses where LANL workers spent some of their $911 million in earnings last year.

The lab's announcement this week that it planned to cut 500 to 750 jobs through voluntary buyouts had Maes nervous Tuesday as she reflected on not only her own livelihood, but that of five family members who work at the lab.

"They shouldn't do this right before the holidays," said Maes, adding that lab workers "can't enjoy the holidays with their families because they have this hanging over them, wondering, 'Am I gonna be the one?' ''

But for several lab workers spending their lunch breaks at eateries like Pizza Hut and Quizno's on Tuesday, job cuts have been expected for several months.
The job cut plan, which still must be approved by the National Nuclear Security Administration, comes amid increasing operation costs associated with last year's change in management at the lab and continuing budget uncertainties.

Congress has failed to pass a budget for the current fiscal year that began Oct. 1 and relied instead on a series of temporary measures allowing most of the federal government, including the lab, to continue spending at last year's levels.
Mark Haagenstad, a lab civil engineer, said he fears Congress will continue to pass these stop-gap measures in the years to come, leaving Los Alamos to wither on the vine for lack of funding.

"I would like to hold onto my job," said Haagenstad, sipping a drink at Starbucks. "I can't figure out how I'll pay my mortgage otherwise."

LANL veteran Fred Michael Mueller called the lab's workforce restructuring plan that cuts jobs a responsible response to Congress.

"You're dealt a hand of cards," the theoretical physicist said. "You have to play those cards."

Others Tuesday were less sanguine.

Adam Feldman, executive director of the New Mexico Republican Party, slammed Rep. Tom Udall, D-N.M., for voting in favor of a House spending bill this summer that cut the lab's funding. The measure would still need to be reconciled with a Senate bill that maintains LANL funding.

"When Rep. Udall failed to show strong leadership on the Appropriations Committee and voted to authorize the lab cuts on the floor of the House, it cost New Mexicans their jobs, it hurt New Mexico's economy, and it damaged our national security," Feldman said in a statement.

Udall, who represents Los Alamos and has indicated he plans to run for the U.S. Senate next year, has said he voted for the House bill to send a signal that LANL must diversify its mission beyond weapons to include other areas of research, such as renewable energy.

Udall noted in a brief Journal interview Tuesday that while the House bill was under consideration he offered an amendment to add nearly $200 million in funding but it was "defeated overwhelmingly."

Udall did not answer whether he would vote the same way for the House bill that cut LANL funding if given another chance, but said, "This was a vote about the future. For me, it's continuing to fight for the future of the permanence of the lab."

He added: "People losing jobs is something that really tears at my heart— and I know it tears at communities."

Española mayor Joseph Maestas, a Democrat considering running for Udall's House seat, called the divisions in Washington over nuclear weapons policy a "train wreck" that will impact northern New Mexico communities. Many lab workers live in Española.

Maestas noted that the lab has already cut hundreds of jobs from its subcontractor work force and reduced its procurements budget for everything from computers to staplers.

LANL spokesman Steve Sandoval said the lab paid about $911 million in salaries during the 2006 calendar year, including $478 million to workers in Los Alamos County, $220 million in Santa Fe County and $130 million in Rio Arriba County.

"Obviously those wages do end up in the economies," Sandoval said. Lab procurements totaled $734 million in the last fiscal year, nearly half of that in northern New Mexico.

Jamie Duke, an associate pastor at the First Baptist Church in Los Alamos, said that the job uncertainties are being felt by members of his congregation. "The families (of the workers) bear a lot of stress," he said.

For now, the lab is waiting to see how many workers accept voluntary buyouts. Involuntary layoffs will be necessary if not enough workers choose to leave.

Lab officials asked to give workers a more lucrative severance package, but the National Nuclear Security Administration refused to approve it.

NNSA spokesman John Broehm said Tuesday the lab's severance package was generous as-is and that history has shown that higher incentives don't significantly increase the number of workers choosing to leave.

Journal staff writer Jeff Jones contributed to this report.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Adam Feldman, executive director of the New Mexico Republican Party, slammed Rep. Tom Udall, D-N.M., for voting in favor of a House spending bill this summer that cut the lab's funding."

He does? What a surprise! Bull hockey! The the political and economic climate changed, and a dinosaur Lab dependent on dinosaur leaders like Plutonium Pete was simply caught unprepared. Udall represents a new enlightened view of the world, which of course is the Lab's worst fear. Heaven forbid that anyone question the Lab's continued waste.

Anonymous said...

It is for good reasons that LANL is called the northern New Mexico welfare system.

Anonymous said...

"It is for good reasons that LANL is called the northern New Mexico welfare system."

That's true. It is a welfare system...for immigrant scientists and engineers who couldn't cut it in the private sector. You're absolutely right 8:06AM.

Anonymous said...

8:10am,

There are plenty of white, middle-aged male "scientists" at LANL who are about to demonstrate that they can't cut it in the real world. Cut the racist crap.

Anonymous said...

Racism at Los Alamos? How can that be? Tell me it isn't so!

Anonymous said...

Some questions for today's State Leglislative Oversight Committee to ask:

1) Dr. Anastasio - You have stated that the LANS contract raised LANL costs by $175M per year. Where does that money come from, did DOE fund LANS separately or did it come out of the LANL budget? (LANL budget).

2) Dr. Anastasio - Please provide a breakdown of these additional costs. How much of this is LANS fee ($79M). How much is additional managment costs. ($10M) How many additional managers, safety personnel, and security personnel did LANS bring to Los Alamos. (80)

3) Dr. Anastasio - If LANS costs $175M to pay for 80 additional managers and experts, doesn't that mean that each LANS manager on average cost the LANL budget almost two million dollars PER YEAR? (yes)

4) Dr. Anastasio - How much money, salary and fringe do you earn? (420,000)

5) Dr. Anastasio - How much bonus is LANS paying you ($200,000)

6) Dr. Anastasio - are you the highest paid LANS manager (yes).

7) Does it seem reasonable to you that the average cost to LANL for each new LANS employee is almost two million dollars when you yourself only make a fraction of that? (Don't care)
8) Where does this $79M fee go, does it stay in the state of NM or does it leave the state? (leaves the state).

9)Dr. Anastasio - you've stated that you will layoff 500-750 employees to save $100M. This appears to be caused by the LANS contract, is that true? (yes).

10) Does this layoff target include LANL contractors already terminated? (No)

11) How many contractors have already been terminated (400).

12) So the total number of employees losing their jobs because of the LANS contract is over 1000? (yes).

13) Dr. Anastasio - what is the total financial impact to the state of New Mexico as a direct consequence of the LANS contract? Include all layoffs, the LANS profit leaving the state, and the other changes made to reduce procurement in the state of New Mexico? ($200M per year).

14) Dr. Anastasio - does this number include the impact to secondary jobs in New Mexico? (No).

15) What is your estimate of the total impact to the State of New Mexico including the impact to secondary jobs? ($400M / year)

16) Dr. Anastasio - You've stated that you are working to reduce the taxes LANL pays to the state of New Mexico - What is your estimate of the total taxes paid by LANL? ($80M) What is your target number for tax payments to the state? (0)

17) Dr. Anastasio - this is astounding! You've described a nightmare for Los Alamos, Northern New Mexico, and in fact the whole State of New Mexico. Aren't you ashamed of yourself? (No). Why not? (Because I'm making a lot more money than when I was doing exactly the same job at Lawrence Livermore). How can you live with yourself?

Anonymous said...

"LANL spokesman Steve Sandoval said the lab paid about $911 million in salaries during the 2006 calendar year, including $478 million to workers in Los Alamos County, $220 million in Santa Fe County and $130 million in Rio Arriba County."

Udall is about to see the economy of his own district tank just as he voted for it to do. The arguments about how much the northern NM economy is dependent on LANL will soon be resolved. If I worked for a supplier of goods or services to LANL, I'd be just as worried as LANL employees are.

Anonymous said...

Re-elect No One!

Anonymous said...

The good news is the Lab blows $911 million in New Mexico every year. The bad new is all the millionaire being created in the process moved to New Mexico from some place else, taxes went up for all New Mexicans in order to improve roads, schools and buid other infrastructure to accomodate the influx of new residents, the economic gap between the haves and the have nots widened, land was taken away from local communities in support of the Lab, the environmental contamination stemming from Lab operations will haunt New Mexico for generations to come, and our dwindling watter supply is now being polluted due to decades of Lab arrogance. But hey...look at the economic benefits!

Anonymous said...

Seeing how much damage that Tom Udall has done to his own district, just imagine the economic damage he'll be able to bring to the whole state of New Mexico. Go Tom! Let's turn New Mexico into the next 'Michigan Miracle'. Mr. Dingell-berry and his sidekick, 'Shut it Down' Stuppie, are so proud of you.

Anonymous said...

Hey look at the cultural benefits! We still speak English and Spanish and Native American dialects, instead of German and Japanese!

Anonymous said...

Ref. Sherman Maisel, Intermediate Economics (Former President of SF Fed Reserve Bank)

From Macroeconomics, we learn that the value of autonomous spending (new infusion of funds into a region, not funds currently in circulation) such as the $911M in LANL salaries is much more valuable to a region than the funds themselves. Money turns over in a regional economy (the term of art is Velocity of Money) a number of times during a year. A good number for a multiplier is 4-5 times. So the value of $900M in autonomous funds to the Northern NM economony is about $4B in local domestic product.

Likewise, the handsome transfer of fees to the California bank accounts of Stephen and Riley Bechtel, and Gerald Parsky drops the N. NM gross reciepts by $400M-$500M.

Good reason for the good people of Los Alamos to throw out Udall, and to punish other perpetrators, it seems to me. You guys need a bulldog in Congress to keep your share of Federal spending, not another confused Udall.

Hope Ellen Tauscher's staff keeps current with this blog...her district is getting raped in the same way.

Anonymous said...

There are plenty of white, middle-aged male "scientists" at LANL who are about to demonstrate that they can't cut it in the real world. Cut the racist crap.

11/21/07 8:13 AM

Sadly, I believe you are full of shit. Prove it

Anonymous said...

Sadly, I believe you are full of shit. Prove it

11/21/07 9:23 PM"

Not true. On the whole they can get jobs. I know plenty that have already and many more that could.
By the way you do not work at LANL.