May 24, 2008
In an upbeat all-hands meeting at Fermilab today, director Pier Oddone announced that a $5 million donation from an anonymous donor in combination with a number of early retirements and resignations will help allow Fermilab to cease their furloughs (in which all staff had to take approximately 10% of their time off with no pay) at the end of May.
You can watch the video of the meeting held in the auditorium at Fermilab.
Oddone began by literally taking his (borrowed) hat off to the staff for their continued excellent achievement in operating the Tevatron, which has broken many records in recent weeks. He also congratulated the laboratory on its continued good safety record.
He announced that Fermilab will now have a voluntary layoff program starting in June followed by an involuntary layoff program starting in July. The voluntary program will be “structured,” which means that certain job functions are not eligible for voluntary layoffs. However, the majority of the lab will be eligible.
Oddone explained that an anonymous family in Illinois will donate $5 million to the University of Chicago (a partner in managing Fermilab for the US Department of Energy) to help support the future of high-energy physics. “I find it quite encouraging, quite astounding,” Oddone said.
Turning to current Congressional actions, Oddone spoke of the Senate bill that includes supplemental funding for high-energy physics attached to the war spending bill. However, the House bill has no such domestic spending. He cautioned that “the probability of this funding going through this year is not great.” Despite that, Oddone said he is optimistic for the future and appreciative of the effort by the community in achieving this level of support.
Oddone returned to the topic of furloughs and said the combination of more-than-expected retirements and resignations along with the new donation would allow Fermilab to stop furloughs at the end of May. He says he needs to confirm this plan next week but that staff should plan to not have any furlough after May 31. Staff will still be required to take their full vacation allowance by the end of the fiscal year.
As a result of the all-hands meeting, the mood at the lab seems to have improved appreciably, according to some Fermilab staff.