Nov 20, 2007

Richardson urges resolution on LANL funding to avoid job losses

Right. Richardson has tasked Mondragon with an impossible mission -- to figure out how the state of New Mexico can carry 750 fired LANL employees on a non-existent payroll. So, when Mondragon fails to do that, Richardson can shrug and say, "I tried."

Shrewd, Bill. Nobody's going to see through this charade.



New Mexico Business Weekly

Gov. Bill Richardson is urging Congress and the White House to work out funding differences that prompted Los Alamos National Laboratory to make plans to lay off up to 750 employees.

Richardson said he is directing Fred Mondragon, secretary of the Economic Development Department, and Betty Sparrow Doris, secretary of the Workforce Solutions Department, to meet with LANL officials directly to assure that the state retains anyone who is laid off.

LANL officials outlined a voluntary separation package of up to 39 weeks of benefits for lab employees on Monday. The lab hopes to reduce the workforce by 500 to 750 employees through the plan.

Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., issued a statement that he is uncertain about the outcome of the FY2008 budget for the national laboratories. Domenici is the ranking member of the Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee that crafts the bill to fund the Department of Energy, the National Nuclear Security Administration and the nuclear weapons complex that includes LANL and Sandia National Laboratories. These agencies are funded under a continuing resolution that expires Dec. 14.

The Democratic leadership in Congress has directed the House and Senate appropriators to attempt to reach conference agreements on bills like the energy and water bill for inclusion in an omnibus appropriations package to fund the federal government for the remainder of the 2008 fiscal year. The leadership also reduced overall subcommittee funding allocations by 50 percent, or $11 billion, according to Domenici's office .

Sen. Jeff Bingaman issued a statement expressing disappointment over the LANL job cuts. He said the Senate leadership has sought to enact spending bills with greater emphasis on domestic spending, but after a veto on one bill by President Bush and a threatened veto on others, Congressional leaders agreed to reduce proposed domestic spending by $11 billion. This could have a negative impact on the budgets of the national labs, he said.


Anonymous said...

The Los Alamos Lodging and Restaurant Association, in concert with our Santa Fe counterparts, stands at the ready to assist.

Tu Nalga, Chairman
LA L&R Association

Anonymous said...


I take it you mean 'assist', as in "Do you want fries with that?"

Anonymous said...

Yes, *nobody* is going to see through this little charade, Bill.

Wink, wink. Nudge, nudge.

Anonymous said...

WTF am I missing? I thought even a flat budget puts 500-750 out the door?

Anonymous said...

You got it right, 5:50. Either the press got it wrong, or (more likely) Roark fed them spun information. The fact is, the need to RIF 750 staff results from LANS costing more to do business than UC used to. Why?

Well, duh: $79M annual award fee, $55M additional GRT, management bloat, and other LANS special contributions.

The need to RIF additional LANL staff will become obvious when the FY'08 budget hits the streets.

Anonymous said...

Richardson is a worthless piece of shit.

Anonymous said...

"LANL officials outlined a voluntary separation package of up to 39 weeks of benefits for lab employees on Monday. The lab hopes to reduce the workforce by 500 to 750 employees through the plan."

About half the Lab has come here since the beginning of 2000. Their benefit would be a little short of the 39 weeks.

Anonymous said...

Did anybody else notice that Mikey repeatedly said that "this was the best deal we would ever get" ? Can LANS change the severance package after phase 1 or phase 2?

Anonymous said...

What part of we're all getting screwed don't you understand? A handful of those double dipping will profit well from this - the rest, well get out your K-Y Jelly. And yes, if you're double dipping, more power to you. I wish I'd invested in Microsoft, Apple and Exxon - but I didn't.

Anonymous said...

Repeat after me:

Nobody is doing anything to me.

What part of being responsible for your station in life don't some of you get? Every part of the economy goes through cycles. It's usually not the government dole part, but this time it is. It's your life. Do something with it besides spending protesting what the world is doing to you.

Anonymous said...

Tu Nalga means, your ass. Get it! Ref 11/20/07 12:36 PM

Anonymous said...

LANS is shit. Anastasio is shit. NM congressional folk are shit. DOE is shit. NNSA is shit.

All this bullshit is for NOTHING.....

All the fuckups and political bullshit and the workers pay for it..... and of course northern NM....

Anonymous said...

So 8:25, are you part of the problem or part of the solution? Are you a flaming bag on a doorstep, or a bidet?

Anonymous said...

8:46 suck a big one......

personal attacks are so LANS-worthy

Anonymous said...

So, all this vituperation has what to do with the subject of the thread?? Find another post.

Anonymous said...

"Richardson is a worthless piece of shit."

So is Mikey and well I am not thinking too highly about ole Domenici either. Once again when the chips are down, he puts two thumbs up for the corrupt LANL management.

Anonymous said...

Wow, bidet-boy seems awful touchy.

Anonymous said...

Mikey, Georgie and Sammy,

Offer a 3+3 and everyone over 55 will leave, problem solved.

over 55

Anonymous said...

10:54PM. TCP1 has no money for a 3+3.

Anonymous said...

Please just leave anyway, if all your working for is your pension don't put it on my back. I work at LANL and I hear it from the older crowd....just gotta make it a few more years....all the while they don't do shit now. What kind of life is that? They don't want to do anything new, for the love of Pete don't change anything and I'm outta here if it gets worse....well maybe in a few years. All I see is baby boomers with their hands out asking for it to be given to them for just showing up, proud of you guys.

Anonymous said...

Good one. 3+3! Keep dreaming. Reality is you will get the minimum possible.

Anonymous said...

Justin case you missed the earlier comments:

"Richardson is a worthless piece of shit."

Anonymous said...

Why can't we all just be friends?

Sign me Happy Face

Anonymous said...

10:54PM said, "TCP1 has no money for a 3+3"

Au contraire mon ami, the labs can't afford not to offer a 3+3.

How long are the very senior double-dippers going to stick around? There is no longer a reason (age 60age factor dropoff) for them to go to pasture. They stick around, take lots of unpaid leave, get paid, feel worthwhile and avoid conflicts with the ol' battleaxe at home.

You'll soon need an Alzheimer's Division and janitorial will need to stock Depends along with Kotex.

Not many people are worth much as they decline between 55 and 70. Look a DOE management. Without a 3+3, you own 'em.

NNSA is too damn dumb to understand what Lawrence, Oppenheimer and their band of merry tricksters set up ages ago.

UC paid no attention, AEC did what they were told, and we won the cold war. NNSA takes over and we f$^+ the dog.

Anonymous said...

Shorter 8:07.

We can't build bombs, we can't keep secrets. But we have Nobel prizes in personnel policies. (Or is that MacArthur genius grants?)

Anonymous said...

Mikey, Georgie and Sammy are lousy poker players. The ante is the SSVIP. Next time round the pot sweetens. They don't have a choice. An organization with an average age of AARP isn't viable.

NNSA's thoughtless construction of the RFP, reminiscent of Bush's postwar planning in Iraq, is destroying what made the labs a good place to work. It is logical to fold and forget the next few years if NNSA will meet seniors half way. Otherwise, it is only logical to stay in the game to see if the hunch holds.

Anonymous said...

This LANS crew can be a brutal bunch. Don't discount a tactic of simply targeting some of the 56+ crowd as suffering from 'mental decline' and terminating them out the front door. A year or two of ultra-low ORC scores would be used to document this claim. Yes, those affected could sue, but by they time they could collect any money most of them would have passed away or given up due to their old age.

Another tactic would be to transfer some of these old staffers to programs that are poorly funded. Once the funds dry up, LANS says "Opps, no more money, you're gone!" Unfortunately, the DOE 3161 plan will allow RIFs to be an ongoing feature of LANL work life from this point forward, so layoffs are going to be a common event based on lack of funding for projects.

The old folks at LANL who think they can hold out for a better deal are delusional. The current offer is probably as good as it gets. As far as the 401K LANS match goes, it is due to be cut in half by next year, so that little gravy train is coming to an abrupt decline.

Anonymous said...

Anastasio stated that DOE last Friday had rejected the proposal to augment the separation package for "self selection" individuals. He also stated that the pressure is on by DOE to lower LANL's separation benefits to align with the rest of the DOE Complex.

There is no reason to believe that any future RIF packages will be any better than today. DOE doesn't care.

TCP1 is a completely separate pool of pension money. UC publicly stated that, in their opinion, they were not transferring enough money to fund TCP1, as of June 1, 2006. LANS has not yet submitted a formal accounting of their estimate of the underfunding, and probably won't until May 2008. TCP1 was about $120M underfunded on June 1 2006.

Standard accounting calls for 15% of payroll to be deposited annually into DBPs like ours. The annual payroll for TCP1 is $600M. Care to bet that the May 2008 financial report will show that LANS has deposited $180M into TCP1?

So to all of you calling for "3+3", forget it, TCP1 is already underfunded. No way would DOE throw in more funds to support early retirement. They won't even pay for an augmented separation.

As soon as we get through this first round of voluntary and involuntary RIFs, expect to see the next management crisis in the Spring to be the "surprising" severe underfunding of TCP1, as severe as $300M. Under the new Pension Provision Act of 2006, which requires 7 year remedial action, there simply won't be the funds to fix this problem, either.

(The RIF will have a positive benefit, however, on the underfunding of TCP1. Probably why the formal accounting is delayed until May, after the initial RIF, in order to beef up the books.)

Fortunately, as an ERISA-backed private pension plan, the pension benefits are not vested for the active (unretired) employees, and the solution will be to simply slash the benefits and/or freeze the plan. Costs controlled, employees screwed.

Total Management Control. Total Employee Control. Total Cost Control. Priceless.

Anonymous said...

I agree, 10:33 PM. The TCP1 pension will be frozen within the next year or two. To keep it operating would require worker contributions that are so huge that LANS will decide this pain can't be reasonably borne by the salary contributions of the TCP1 workers.

LANS will shut down TCP1 and kick the TCP1 workers into a hybrid plan (TCP1 accrued benefits up to the freeze date, followed by reduced TCP2 payments after the freeze date). The only question then becomes just how much was accrued into TCP1 by the freeze date?

By law, pension benefits cannot be reduced based on the pension assets accrued by each worker. However, the transfer from UCRP to TCP1 resets the asset accrual clock to June 1st of 2006. It's not at all clear just what the accrued assets are, given the lack of transparency from LANS on TCP1. We do know one thing. UCRP short-changed TCP1 by about $120 million during this asset transfer process. If accrued assets are deficient at the time of reset, then the pension pay-out tables will need to be adjusted downward, regardless of any verbal promises that DOE made to us back in 2005. DOE is not about to make up for this $120 million shortfall in TCP1's starting assets.

Mark my words, TCP1 workers at LANL are about to be double gang-banged by the sleaze bags over at DOE and LANS. If you think you have a nice pension waiting for you via TCP1, think again.

Anonymous said...

One problem of definition here is "pension assets accrued." Since no one, neither employee or employer, has made a contribution since 1990, the bulk of the value for each employee is in investment returns, not in contributions. And, as you point out, the accounting may have been reset when the funds were removed from the public UCRP into the private TCP1.

The summary documents for TCP1 clearly state on the cover page that all benefits are unvested. So the age factors and retirement dates can all be adjusted to reflect the true state of the underfunding.

But the underfunding won't be known until May 2008. Apparently, LANS took the position that the one-year accounting clock did not start until the money actually arrived from UCRP in May 2007. But all reckonings on the transfer were booked to June 1, 2006. Looks like they are trying to hide something.

I hate being lied to.

Anonymous said...

Just imagine how shocked and angry most of the LANL TCP1 workers will be when they suddenly find out in the summer of '08 that they are being forced to fork over 10% of their salaries to keep TCP1 solvent. This will come on top of year after year of little or no raises for most of the staff.

Of course, don't plan on LANS telling you anything about this ugly situation until they can't hide it any longer. Besides, a year or two of 10% salary contribution will have most of the staff at the point were they are eager to see a freeze out of the TCP1 pension to stop their salaries from hemorrhaging.

Anonymous said...

1:03PM summarizes nicely my primary concern. I went TCP2, so why would I care about what happens to TCP1? Because the morale of my colleagues will plummet further when they find their salaries are cut 10%.

In limited polling, since no one has contributed anything since 1990, there is a lack of appreciation that the pension contribution of 10% is like an insurance premium; they will never see it again, it's the price they must pay to be members of the club. They get a payout only if they follow the retirement rules. The 10% is not "banked" like 401(k)s in a conventional sense.

So come summer 2008, there will be new "shock and awe" at the mandatory deduction in their paychecks.

And our management is either completely incompetent on what's happening, or evil in their intent to hide the truth. And yet they make the big bucks for exactly these types of tough issues.

Anonymous said...

Poster 6:34 PM, the LANS top brass don't make the big bucks to tackle the tough issues at LANL.

They make the big bucks to heel to NNSA's every wish and whim.