Nov 19, 2007

Q&A From Today's All Hands RIF Meeting

Sent in by a reader.



Q & A:

Q: What if more than your target numbers of people apply?
Anastasio’s Answer: There is a cap of 750 people. We looked at job classifications to exclude as well as those that are targeted by numbers of jobs targeted in specific job classifications. If we get a thousand people that apply, we won’t accept all of them because (the reason) this action is not in response to the FY08 budget because if you look at the severance package, we are looking at setting up the viability of LANL over the longer term. We don’t have a budget that we’re responding to.

Q: You mention the defense authorization Act, are you going honor preference in hiring?
A: Yes, prior to ’91.

Q: If they qualify for the 39 wks severance pay, will there be a tax on it?
A: Will there be another voluntary/involuntary in FY09? I don’t see that happening – not with a ‘voluntary self-selection’. If we have budget drivers that require similar action, I do not see it including a voluntary opportunity with severance/benefit package in the future. There may be future

Q: Will the 120 day count be honored? With workshop fairs or other efforts to help people involved in the layoff?
A: All the necessary days have been accounted for in our current process & schedule.

Q: There is some confusion between amendment #11 which specifies service credit and the Admin manual regarding RIFs where TCP1 & TCP2 are concerned. Are they both going to be treated the same?
A: The accrual of service that goes toward your service will be the same.

Q: In the amendment said TCP2 wouldn’t accrue for the purpose of severance credit.
A: If you came across, it will accrue toward severance. The policy has recently been changed

Q: Will there be any prohibition on people coming back (as a guest scientist) to assist with transition
A: if an individual self-selects and then applies to come back, line management would assess whether that individual would be allowed to return on a guest status.

Q: There will be no difference between Self-select and involuntary in severance or benefits? Have you considered that the voluntary self-select because for those nearing retirement may not be very attractive.
A: we tried to get an enhancement but that was not approved. There is now policy (at DOE) that prohibits enhancements. Have we considered what we would do if we don’t get the numbers we need in Phase 1-SSP? Sure, that’s why there’s Phase 2 and Phase 3.

Q: For indiv who fully retired and came back (double dippers), is the calculation 1 yr service or the full time of their years?
A: The full number of years. If you entered LANS and took TCP2, you would get the full number of years of service to calculate severance.

Q: If someone applies for the SSP and they’re denied, is there an appeal process open to them?
A: I don’t think so because this is a self-selection which you can do any time but if you want to get the benefit of the severance and benefits, that’s a management’s determination.

Q: How uniformly is that going to be applied, if you are denied but not in an ineligible job classification.
A: We have a process that will address each application and we hope to be fair in every step.

Q: [couldn’t hear question]
A: Sure, the whole lab went through scrutiny to look at job classifications and determine what would skills 7-8% of the people are in excluded categories which are also jobs for which we are still hiring.

Q: [couldn’t hear question]
A: In the schedule, mid-December we will get the info on how many people have applied on the SSP. That would begin to give me prelim info on whether we would need to go to Phase 2. The earliest we feel that would be determined would be the end of Jan which would put the end point near the end of March.

Q: Do you know if SSP affects unemployment benefits?
A: If someone chooses to self-select, we’ll treat them as if it was a RIF so we’ll notify the State (of NM) that this is a RIF. The State then determines whether those individuals would be eligible for Unemployment benefits. This is a self-selection in an involuntary action so we see it as involuntarily being let go.

Q: Will the SSP include sick leave? Will we lose that accrued sick time?
A: Lose, yes you’ll lose that sick time.

Q: If we SSP, what is the health insurance time frame?
A: You’ll have med coverage for several years (the same as you have now) but you will have to contribute more and more of the institution’s premium to keep the coverage through 3 calendar years.

Q: After 39 weeks, you’ll continue to get it for the rest of the calendar year?
A: 12 months from the date of termination with the cost paid for you. Then in years 2 and 3, you’ll pay more of the premium.

Q: For Phase 2, the involuntary part. Will it be considered uniformly across the Lab w/o deference to Lab mission?
A: No. The mission of the Lab is still a prime consideration. I said that the program

Q: is there an involuntary severance package and is it different from the voluntary severance package?
A: This is a self-select into an involuntary program so an employee can self-select themselves to be involuntarily removed. So, in that context, there is no difference in the severance package between the SSP and the Phase 2 involuntary selection.

Q: Is there an incentive to self select?
A: If you’re thinking of retiring and are waiting for a good deal, this is it. You know you’re in control subject to not being excluded or denied and you’ll know you’re not going to be RIF’d.

Q: Under the notional schedule and one chooses to self-select and depart Jan 10th, when do they get paid the severance package?
A: I think it’s two weeks following the departure date (Jan 10)

Q: List of critical skills (~ 7%) be published or avail to mgrs so we can get started working on our next option?
A: Two things: first, there’s a set of job classifications that your mgmt was involved in excluding when this gets approved we’ll notify you what job classifications you were in. Two, if you’re eligible, if you’re not in the excluded job classifications, you can decide whether or not to apply which will then begin the determination of whether you’re accepted.

Q: If Phase 2 becomes necessary, the notification is end of Jan and separation is end of March?
A: Yes, that’s the optimistic schedule. I don’t think it could go faster than that but

Q: You mentioned sending out email to eligible or affected employees, will that include our job classifications?
A: We won’t include that in the email but you would be able to log in and find that information. You also have a benefits rep in your line org that has that info.

Q: Are there any restrictions on employment at other Labs or at DOE?
A: You will be restricted from working at another site for 12 months if you self-select. If you are selected under the involuntary, there is no restriction.

Q: So I understand the RIF is not going to save money for FY08, what IS going to save $ for FY08?
A: In the time frame we have, there is not a lot more leverage from the things we’ve already done by enhancing opportunities to bring $ into the Lab along with the changes we’ve already done.

Q: What’s the magic number in dollars that equates to the 500-750 people and that number is used to calc the funding needs to avoid phase 2.
A: $100M for a year. The objective for the plan is 500-750 people. If we get a budget that requires it, more would go in future actions (Phase 2 and 3).

Q: Will the people get paid Unemployment Benefits? What is the percentage that you will tax on the severance package?
A: The Lab will treat you the same whether you will have Unemployment Benefits. We also don’t tax you, the State taxes you. We may withhold 30%.

Q: 120 days, 60 days – what are the notification dates that apply now?
A: For a self-selection program, the 120 days are built into the schedule I showed earlier including the earlier plan submittal. The 120-day clock started when the general plan was submitted. The involuntary plan will provide 60 day notification.

Q: Will the contractors be included in the 750 number?
A: We’ll go through phase 1 process which includes LANS employees. We’ll look at how many people apply and are accepted. We’ll look at the people and their skills and expertise and look at the flexible workforce and realign where necessary. Contractors are not part of the self-select process but are under different conditions.

Q: In the memo that was sent mentioned performance and seniority will be considered. You now mentioned bringing in funding.
A: I don’t recall any memo that mentioned performance and seniority but we don’t have a plan approved yet but we’ll look at how these things overlay and indicate your contribution to the Lab.

Q: You mentioned a change in policy, can I get a clarification? The SSP person couldn’t be hired back for 12 months but in the past it was the length of your severance package calculation.
A: It’s 12 months, not calculated on the number of weeks used to calculate severance pay.

Q: You made a comment about this severance package being generous are we under pressure to reduce that?
A: We will be under pressure to align those benefits across DOE, but the accrual you already have, it may be that you could keep the 30 weeks (for example) but not be able to accrue more than the cap. I can’t guarantee anything, but that DOE is looking at.

Q: Can you tell me if group management will have input in the Phase 2 decision-making.
A: The person deciding if we have Phase 2 is me. If we have individuals to decide upon, your line management would be involved but it would include all managers across the lab to ensure fairness.

Q: The 60 day notification - is that individual or group notification, a clarification?
A: The group notification has been done.

Q: Would management do ‘pay in lieu of notice’ for those that don’t want to stay the 60 days?
A: That may be possible.

Q: For the people who opt for SSP, does that include the non-weapons labs like SLAC?
A: Yes.

Q: For the people who are participating in the 401K are we permitted to participate for the 39 weeks.
A: No. Your participation ends at termination date. Severance is a cash payout based on your years of service, that’s not pay in lieu of service so it’s not compensation for time.

Q: In the category of people who weren’t eligible for SSP, there was also the listing of limited term, post docs, etc. Does that mean later on in Phase 2, will those same categories be excluded?
A: We have a 3-phased process for the 3161 process we’re under. But after we see the people who get accepted in the SSP, I’ll stop, pause and do an assessment of the flexible workforce and determine if we need to do an independent action that may or may not include those who were ineligible in this 3161 action. Limited term and post docs are under different condition of employment and thus can be subject to action outside the 3161 conditions.

Q: Could you summarize what is meant by flexible workforce?
A: Not post-docs but limited term and other available work force.

Q: If an organization has a high number of SSP people, would they be less likely to have Phase 2 impacts?
A: were doing this lab-wide so we’re looking at what the needs will be lab-wide. The places we look will be lab-wide while the program will be implemented through individuals.

Q: Will people be able to retire under either scenario?
A: Yes and also retire outside of the two scenarios described as well.

Q: For people who apply in the SSP but find a job, will they be penalized for not being present for the Jan 10 date?
A: If you apply and get accepted, and you get a job elsewhere. Do you have to stay employed until January 10th? We’ll have to review that and determine what applies or work with you to find the ‘best solution’.

Q: What is your ‘best estimate’ of how many you will actually see in the SSP?
A: What is YOUR best estimate? I don’t think I know this work force well enough to predict that outcome.

Q: Do you get paid for vacation or do you lose vacation?
A: You get paid for vacation but not sick leave.

Q: The term “Job classification” came up frequently. What does that mean?
A: The Common Occupational Classification System isn’t routinely used here but we have now applied it per the plan submittal specs. When we get approval, you will be able to log in and see your COCS number and the number of jobs that fall into those categories (and the target numbers, I think he said).

Q: Could we clarify the comment about losing sick leave? Service credit related.
A: it does get calculated in the service credit for retirement under TCP1 only.

Q: There was an educational grant in the earlier RIF, will that be part of this offer?
A: The answer is that we’re working with the State to see if they’ve offered to provide some help but that would only

Q: I would like LANS to take the initiative to ask the State if they will treat the SSP folks if they would qualify for Unemployment.
A: We can ask but we may not get a definitive answer. But, we can ask. Yes.


Anonymous said...

Wow, phenomenal job of capturing the Q&A. A couple of answers are truncated, do you need help filling in the answers or just a chance to proofread?

Anonymous said...

Sorry, these were done on the fly and I knew I had missed some of the statements.

Please, fill in where applicable!

Anonymous said...

"I don’t think I know this work force well enough ..."

Sadly, I think this is the most insightful statement of the day.

Another poster mentioned that the questions asked of Anastasio were much too polite.

I agree. That's part of why Mikey doesn't know us well enough; we've caved and become intimidated because history tells us that when you're about to be whipped, it's better to whimper and take the lashes than it is to protest and really get beaten.

Anonymous said...

It's not just that Mikey "doesn't know this work force well enough".

It's that he and his PAD/ADs don't even care to know about the LANL work force. That's the key point.

The "us" versus "them" mentality has become extreme at LANL over the last year and a half, due largely to the way that LANS has decided to run this place.

Anonymous said...

Over a year ago, my Division Leader told me that my name was on a list up in Terry Wallace's office of people who were supposed to meet with Mikey and tell him what's really going on around the Lab.