Dec 7, 2007

LANL Buyouts Fall Short

ABQ Journal
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

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

Now the fun and the litigation begin.

Anonymous said...

Hey, where's the surprise in all of this? LANS is entitled to its $79 million award fee. If you don't like it, sue them!

By my count, DOE, NNSA, and LANS have added about $141 millon (this figure includes the $41 million LANS payoffs to KSL) to the annual cost of doing business at LANL.

This figure does *not* include any of the productivity disincentives (JB Weld, extra management layers, etc.) which LANS has provided.

Anonymous said...

"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."

Let me see if I understand this. It used to be that if you left your job voluntarily you weren't entitled to unemployment compensation. Now I guess it's different. I'll remember that when I decide to volunteer to retire as a State employee.

By the way, the snoring in the background is the State Legislature. The giggling is coming from the Governor's office. That slurping sound comes from House Speaker Lujan kissing the Guv's behind. The bleating sound of sheep, well you already know were that’s coming from.

Anonymous said...

8:21 AM - when you retire please let us know if your employer had an ongoing RIF laying off x number of employees at that time. Because the only voluntary part at LANL right now is to "chose" to separate now or to be ousted later.

Anonymous said...

No, you got it wrong, 8:21.

The SSPers didn't voluntarily leave the lab. They only volunteered to be involuntarily laid off!

Anonymous said...

Buyout, sounds good on paper, doesn't amount to much....the unemployment issue could trun out to be questionable, at a later time. Like after you have retired 2 months down the road, the Wonderful State of New Mexico may decide to cut your benifits...(what are you going to do? Call Mikey?).....

darko said...

I have self-selected. LIke most of my compatriots in the self-selection, I am leaving because I have "something better to do" and this just made it easier to decide. 39 weeks of pay gives me room to:

A) negotiate better terms on my next gig(s)
B) hold some in reserve if any of that doesn't work out
C) take less lucrative work if I choose

I have no intention for filing for unemployment from the state. Let those who need it, those who would truly suffer w/o it have it.

I'm tired of this "what is in it for me?" attitude.

Perhaps those who are volunteering because they know they will be ousted if they don't might be justified in taking advantage of this, but I doubt there are many of those, they have little to no incentive to leave now (except to save face?).

I can't decide for anyone else, but I think skagging the state for another round of subsidy is totally inappropriate in this case.

- Darko

Anonymous said...

The "Unemployment Payout" will be a point of contention in the months to come....Be careful with the promise from Mikey...The State of New Mexico could decide on the contrary...Ever delt with the DMV? then you know how difficult this could be.....(Oh, we need your birth-certificate, you don't have the right form's, oh you were not let go, you left on your own, etc.)But when you tell them you worked at LANL and prove your salary, you will get no sympathy, maybe you will get "vengence".......

Anonymous said...

"This figure does *not* include any of the productivity disincentives (JB Weld, extra management layers, etc.) which LANS has provided.

12/7/07 8:16 AM
"

Not to mention our lovely new travel system, "Concur"... what a great cost-saving, productivity-improvement measure THAT has turned out to be. Who's making money on that one?

Anonymous said...

LANL Buyout Falls Short??? What a headline! They got 450 staffers to accept a deal that offers them nothing more than they would have received if they got laid off. I find the 450 figure amazingly high.

That 450 figure was an order of magnitude larger than I thought was possible. It shows just how utterly demoralized the work force at LANL has become. There is little faith left in LANS and staff are looking for any exit they can find to get out.

Anonymous said...

darko 12/7/07 9:54 AM, said...
"I have no intention for filing for unemployment from the state. Let those who need it, those who would truly suffer w/o it have it."


That is very commendable, darko. I truly admire you for this. If only there were more like you in the world.

PS Now with that said, can I have your unemployment benefit pleeezzz?...just endorse the check and forward it to me, pleeezzz?
--Typical Labbie

Anonymous said...

"8:21 AM - when you retire please let us know if your employer had an ongoing RIF laying off x number of employees at that time. Because the only voluntary part at LANL right now is to "chose" to separate now or to be ousted later."
--12/7/07 8:38 AM


If only you could see my finger and thumb moving back and forth together you'd hear the sad notes of a violin playing. There have been other layoffs in the State, and never before has the State provided a subsidy like this. So yes, there is a hell of a big difference in the way Los Alamos once again is being treated; the most affluent community in the nation to boot! And we’re not supposed to be pissed!?

Anonymous said...

"The plan excludes a small number of employees in critical jobs from leaving."

When is small, small? This "small" number is 770 excluded, and is larger than the 750 RIF target. So the RIF is even smaller.

http://gus.finknottle.googlepages.
com/SSP_Data_with_Percentages.html

Anonymous said...

I agree, Darko. Most of the people I know who self-selected aren't those I would guess to be high on a performance based RIF list.

Anonymous said...

I sure would like to see the demographics of the group that self-selected.

I would bet that they are mostly age 55 and up and have at least 25 years in the pension plan. It may include a few double-dippers. These people are going to retire and stay here so they do not have to contend with selling a house.

A smaller sub-set of the self-selectors is probably the 30ish people who already have other job offers. But, they will have to deal with selling a house in the Los Alamos housing market unless they were shrewd enough to buy in Santa Fe.

Anonymous said...

What a bunch of whiners! LANL employees received a year of guaranteed employment and are now offered 39 weeks of severance plus unemployment benefits for voluntary separation. LLNL is stuck with the crumbs. Stop complaining and get on with it.

Anonymous said...

Adios, Darko. Good riddance.

Nice high morals on not taking unemployment. Of course you are either already have another job lined up and are leaving the state, or are a double dipper and retiring, or never really were here in the first place.

But thanks for the altruistic thoughts.

Anonymous said...

No one gives a damn what happens at LLNL.

Anonymous said...

10:11, you do realize that not everyone taking the voluntary will get 39 weeks?

Anonymous said...

"No one gives a damn what happens at LLNL"

You are either a peon in LANL or an outside troll. A scientist wouldn't converse in such a manner about an affiliated lab.

Anonymous said...

"You are either a peon in LANL or an outside troll. A scientist wouldn't converse in such a manner about an affiliated lab."

Are being a scientist and a peon mutually exclusive?

Anonymous said...

They have already started culling the list for contractors, limited term and other temporary people.

Since management failed to get the right number of people, perhaps the remaining 300 could come from the management structure.

Doubtful!

Anonymous said...

"Since management failed to get the right number of people, perhaps the remaining 300 could come from the management structure."

The others will come from the list made available on November 29th.