Friday, December 7, 2007
LANL Buyouts Fall Short
By Raam Wong
Journal Staff Writer
About 450 Los Alamos National Laboratory employees have applied to voluntarily leave the lab under a job cut plan, a spokesman said Thursday.
Thursday was the last day for employees to "self-select" to leave Los Alamos, which is cutting between 500 and 750 jobs for budget reasons.
The spokesman, Kevin Roark, said it was too early to tell what the voluntary departures would mean in terms of the need for layoffs.
Officials have said that if not enough savings can be found through the voluntary buyouts, the lab will then consider adjusting its flexible work force— made up of regular employees on limited-term assignments and subcontract workers— followed by possible involuntary layoffs of the regular work force.
Lab managers expect to inform employees on Dec. 20 about whether they've been accepted to voluntarily depart under the work-force restructuring plan, with official last days coming on Jan. 10. The plan excludes a small number of employees in critical jobs from leaving.
Los Alamos is northern New Mexico's largest employer with about 11,000 workers who took home $911 million in earnings last year. The job cut plan has led to concern about the toll it would take on local economies.
Employees who voluntarily leave the lab will be eligible for unemployment compensation benefits, the Department of Workforce Solutions recently announced. An agency spokesman had previously told the Journal that those employees would not be eligible.
Dislocated employees would qualify for up to 26 weeks of benefits, which include a cash allowance of up to $326 per week, depending on salary level.
The job cuts are necessary because of rising operational costs under the lab's new corporate manager, flat revenue and consideration in Congress of slashing the lab's budget