last updated: January 08, 2008 03:48:04 AM
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory on Monday began issuing layoff
notices to 500 employees amid a budget shortfall and management changes.
The nuclear weapons research lab employs about 7,800 workers, one-third
of whom live in the San Joaquin Valley, spokeswoman Lynda Seaver said
Monday. The job cuts will come from flex-term and temporary positions at
Flex-term workers are hired for as long as six years under employment
contracts. Temporary employees are hired through outside contractors but
work at the lab.
Seaver said some employees received layoff notices Monday. The remainder
will receive notices on Jan. 16. There might be more layoffs later this
year, Seaver said.
In October, the lab changed from being managed by the University of
California, which has led the lab since its founding in 1952, to a new
partnership called Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC.
The partnership is made up of the university and several engineering and
nuclear specialty companies, such as Bechtel Corp.
The lab, which specializes in nuclear research and development, is
facing a projected $300 million operational budget shortfall in the U.S.
Department of Energy's budget.
More changes at the lab could be imminent if the federal government goes
ahead with a proposal to stop testing at a site in the Altamont Hills.
The Site 300 test range near Tracy is slated to stop testing under the
U.S. National Nuclear Security Agency's proposal to consolidate the
nation's nuclear weapons infrastructure.
Federal officials say that plan would lower security risks and storage
costs by moving some of the work to a New Mexico lab and a Nevada test site.
If the agency follows through with the proposal, more than 900 nuclear
weapons program workers at Lawrence Livermore Lab could lose their jobs.
A final decision is expected this year.
Livermore Lab begins layoffs
Funding cut, inflation cited among reasons for deficit
By Eric Kurhi, STAFF WRITER
Article Last Updated: 01/08/2008 02:35:44 AM PST
LIVERMORE — As a first step to overcome a $300 million budget shortfall,
the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory announced Monday it will lay
off 500 workers this month.
In November, lab Director George Miller told employees to expect the
layoffs, which will effect temporary workers and those hired through
"The positions are largely administrative," lab spokeswoman Lynda Seaver
said Monday. "It won't affect our core scientists."
She said that the temporary, or "flex-term," employees were notified on
Monday, while affected contracted workers will receive notice on Jan. 16.
They will receive 30 days severance pay.
The shortfall is caused by a number of factors, a major one being the
Department of Energy budget that Congress passed as part of a spending
package in December.
It allocates $1.15 billion to the lab — $100 million less than last
year. And the lab's current bill for contracts is $130 million more than
That, plus inflation and a low attrition rate, created the bulk of the
Seaver said more layoffs may be required to get the lab budget out of
the red, but that would be evaluated after this first round.
"What's going to happen is after we go through this (series of layoffs),
the lab director will reassess where we are," she said. "We'll probably
know more at the end of the month."
There was no figure immediately available regarding how much would be
saved through this month's layoffs.
Miller praised and thanked the employees in a statement issued Monday.
"These changes, while particularly difficult, are part of the steps we
are taking to position the laboratory for the future and ensure our
continuing ability to contribute to the solution of the country's and
the world's mostchallenging problems," read the statement, which added
that he will hold a meeting with employees on Jan. 17 to discuss his
vision and possible future strategies.
Jim Wolford, who has worked as a computer scientist at the lab for 27
years, said that the transition of the lab management from solely the
University of California to a private partnership with the university is
partially responsible for the shortfall.
"I think it's clear that conditions we're facing of layoffs comes in
part as a result of restructuring decisions that management made," he said.
It was predicted that adding private industry to the management mix
would initially make costs rise, but that the lab would be more
efficient in the long run.
But the predictions fell short of reality, leaving workers worried about
what will come next, especially when they aren't offered the same job
protections they enjoyed under UC management.
Wolford said it's hard to find work in specialized fields such as the
ones practiced at the lab.
"A lot of jobs here are very unique," he said. "People have accepted
positions that are very esoteric ... They might have thought twice about
taking the job if they thought they were vulnerable to layoffs."
Eric Kurhi can be reached at 925-847-2184 or firstname.lastname@example.org