May 22, 2008

Livermore Lab laying off 440

By Betsy Mason
Contra Costa Times
Article Launched: 05/21/2008 11:03:03 PM PDT

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is laying off 440 employees today and Friday, including 110 scientists and engineers with more than a decade of experience.

The lab had received approval from the National Nuclear Security Administration to release up to 535 employees from the permanent work force, but instead will cut about 100 more temporary "flex-term" workers in the coming months to make up the difference.

"It was never just about getting that number at all costs," lab spokeswoman Susan Houghton said. "It was about doing it right."

Lab management determined that the permanent work force couldn't be slimmed any further and the rest of the cuts could be more easily absorbed elsewhere.

Notices are being sent out today to 500 temporary employees, informing them that about 100 of them will lose their jobs as early as the end of June, bringing the total work force down to about 6,600.

"We do not believe after this it will be necessary to have another involuntary separation at the lab," Houghton said. The layoffs should bring the lab in line with its budget for fiscal 2009, she said. The budget shortfall is due to increased costs associated with switching management from the University of California to a private management company in October, along with federal budget cuts.

Today, three-fourths of the permanent employees being laid off will be notified and brought to a centralized "exit center" to receive their benefits packages, return lab property and leave. They will be paid for 30 days before their severance pay of one week per year of service at the lab kicks in.

An additional 54 scientists and engineers with less than 10 years at the lab are among those being notified today.

The 110 experienced scientists and engineers, such as biologists and chemists, will be released Friday. Before their severance begins, they will have the option of staying on the payroll for three months and doing unclassified work in an office outside the lab's perimeter fence, or telecommuting.

The other 276 employees being released include financial analysts, facilities technicians and administrative assistants. This is the first time in 35 years that permanent lab employees are being laid off.

Houghton said the lab is doing a number of things to help employees find new jobs, including organizing a career fair on June 19 with 35 employers who are interested in hiring lab workers and opening a new resource center on Tuesday to help laid-off employees with resume building, benefits counseling and training opportunities.

"Our goal is to separate these employees in the most empathetic and dignified way as possible," Houghton said. "We realize it's difficult, but we want to better position our lab for the future."

Reach Betsy Mason at 925-952-5026 or bmason@bayareanewsgroup.com.

49 comments:

Anonymous said...

Another triumph for the NNSA.

Anonymous said...

""We do not believe after this it will be necessary to have another involuntary separation at the lab," Houghton said. The layoffs should bring the lab in line with its budget for fiscal 2009, she said."

Didn't know the '09 budget was already decided and approved?

Anonymous said...

And so, it begins.

This is not the end of the reductions in staff. It's just the beginning. NNSA has made this very clear and Congress will probably make it even clearer in the upcoming years.

Anonymous said...

What are the odds that this
will come to LANL?

Anonymous said...

Meanwhile, back here at LANL, LANS announces plans to dump 876 former KSL contract workers onto the LANS permanent staff payroll.

This makes no sense at all. We just went through the stressful process of pleading with over 500 workers to leave the LANS payroll and take the SSP!

Anonymous said...

5/22/08 10:09 AM,

Your comment makes no sense either. We pay for the KSL or equivalent services, regardless of who is the employer of the people. If there were not a projected net cost saving, this move would not have been done.

Anonymous said...

As for LANL, don't think that this will not happen to you. An involuntary separation is "definitely" in the future.

Anonymous said...

10:09 am: "This makes no sense at all. We just went through the stressful process of pleading with over 500 workers to leave the LANS payroll and take the SSP!"

It makes perfect sense. Too many scientists, too few janitors. The complaints of the scientists about dirty restrooms were heard!

Anonymous said...

Meanwhile, over at LLNL....

*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*

How was your day?

Well, I survived today - I kept my job, but is was rough anyway. I watched several friends being marched out the door. One had been there for over 25 years - they had no idea the train was even coming, much less it was stopping for them. They were given about an hour to pack their stuff (not nearly enough time), then off to the exit center. Their management will sort through what was left and send what they think belongs to the employee and ship it to them.

One of the people not only saw the train, but knew the schedule. Everything left in their office fit into a paper grocery bag. They were allowed to say a few goodbye's since their escort had allowed time for packing that was not needed.

I wonder how the person who had a tree fall on their White BMW parked on Avenue B feels?

Posted by Neko at 4:43 PM 4 comments

Anonymous said...

I wonder if there will be any market surveys and salary caps for our newly enriched PADs and ADs in LANS once the upcoming HR TSM job descriptions and assignments are completed?

Nah, I didn't think so.

Anonymous said...

5/22/08 8:38 PM

Brutal, but this is what the American people want.

Anonymous said...

8:48 pm: "Brutal, but this is what the American people want."

Get real. The "American people" don't know and don't care what is happening at LANL and LLNL. On average, they don't even know such places exist. You are to be relegated to the "trash heap of history" with no fanfare or even notice from anyone. Console yourself that someone greater than you wants this outcome, but in reality, NNSA wants this outcome, and there is no way in hell they represent the will of the "American people." Far from it; in fact, no one knows they exist either. You're no one, going nowhere, having accomplished nothing, as far as the public is concerned.

Anonymous said...

10:02 am: "What are the odds that this will come to LANL?"

Over what period of time? Over the next year or two, 100%, if not worse, IMO. LANS is about to realize that they cannot win, no matter how they change the rules in the middle of the game. It's over, except for the dead who won't lie down.

Anonymous said...

"You're no one, going nowhere, having accomplished nothing, as far as the public is concerned.

5/22/08 9:42 PM"

Paris Hilton and Britney Spears on the other hand are what the public is concerned about.

Anonymous said...

"Our goal is to separate these employees in the most empathetic and dignified way as possible." (Susan Houghton, LLNL.)

"They were given about an hour to pack their stuff (not nearly enough time), then off to the exit center." (5/22/08 8:38 PM.)

This, clearly shows, if you are allowed three hours of departure, you have time to pack, and say godbye to your fellow employees, and it also make your own exit less painful, at least in relativistic terms.

Anonymous said...

8:48 pm: "Brutal, but this is what the American people want."

Really? Do you really believe the American people want to lay off 1000s of productive workers at LLNL and LANL, take their salaries away from them and their families, and give that money to Bechtel just to line Riley Bechtel's pockets?

That's what's happening.

You know this isn't saving the American people any money, don't you?

Eric said...

The article "Iraq Spending Ignored Rules, Pentagon Says" by James Glanz in this morning's New York Times may throw even more gasoline on the fire now burning at LANL and LLNL. The article implies that destruction of careers and wasteful spending is endemic in the current administration.

The article says that $8.2 billion of U.S. taxpayer money (four times LANL's budget) and $1.8 billion of seized Iraqi money was spent on contractors. This spending is the driver that is forcing layoffs at national labs.

Almost none of this spending followed federal spending rules. Millions of dollars of this spending had no accounting at all.
Typical 'invoices' to the government contractors said "We spent $10,000,000 on 'stuff.' Pay us." The invoices were paid.

I put the blame for these payments not on the contractors for asking to be paid but on the contracting officer for paying them. Why aren't these contracting officers fired or put in jail for 'waste, fraud, and abuse'? I would bet that the contracting officers got promotions for spending the money quickly in support of 'democracy building.'

The executive branch's (in this case the DoD's) utter disregard for spending the hard earned money of the average taxpayer well and its disregard for the security of the country makes me very angry.

The fact that 90% of the cost of the war in Iraq has been put on a credit card to be paid by my daughter and her children (not yet conceived) makes me more angry.

In a democracy, I can only change the behavior of my government through my vote. So, my question to myself is "Which candidate for congressman, Senator, or President is likely to bring even a modicum of fiscal and national reponsibility to government?"

I will help to elect fiscally responsible candidates who care about the security and prosperity of our nation. I will try to help candidates not only from New Mexico but also from California or other places.

Can someone tell me who these candidates are?

Anonymous said...

LANL's budget is being hit hard by the same types of inflationary forces that you're seeing in your household. Over at LLNL, Miller mentioned inflation as one of the reason LLNL needed to implement layoffs. LLNL, which is smaller than LANL, has estimated their inflation costs this year at $50 million. These are re-occuring costs that grow with each passing year.

LLNS is talking about this issue with their employees. LANS is not. Nevertheless, you will soon see efforts to deal with the rampant inflationary forces that are eating away at LANL's budget. Consider that real inflation is probably running at 8% this year, yet the LANL FY08 budget is flat at best. The budget for FY09 is not expected to grow from present levels.

Do the math. With flat or declining budgets in an environment of high inflation, we either start laying off the employees or we drastically cut back on salaries. There is little maneuvering room left other than these two painful choices.

Anonymous said...

Funny thing is, most employees at LANL are completely unaware that LLNL is even doing involuntary layoffs this Memorial week. We're full of sleepwalkers here at LANL.

Anonymous said...

Don't expect any sympathy from Congress for LANL's current situation. We're all filthy rich up here on the Hill.

=====================================
High incomes earn Hill top rank - Los Alamos Monitor, May 23, 2008

By Gabriel Vasquez, Monitor Reporter

Los Alamos continues to lead the nation in its per-capita population of affluent Americans, according to a Nielsen study released Tuesday.

Two Connecticut locations, Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk and Torrington, were second and third in the study. Six California communities ranked among the top 20.

The study defines “affluent American households” as those with income and income producing assets (IPA) in excess of $100,000, a category birthed locally by the city’s largest employer, Los Alamos National Laboratory.

“We have a lot of highly skilled people that draw large salaries,” said Kevin Holsapple, executive director of the Los Alamos Commerce and Development Corporation. “There are not many people here that are unemployed. There are more in a retired status that still have very significant means.”

Despite the nationwide economic slump, Holsapple said that demographically, not a lot has changed in Los Alamos over the last few years. The largest earners continue to be “highly compensated” workers at “high levels of federal employment.”

Subtract a couple hundred thousand people from the other cities mentioned, and Los Alamos becomes somewhat of a gold mine.

“I don’t think the polarization of incomes is as pronounced here,” Holsapple said. “We just have a very big band of upper-middle class and middle class that stays very stable.”

Similarly, Steve Lynne, Los Alamos County financial director, said that Los Alamos’ top-ranking is in large part due to the number of Ph.D.s employed by the laboratory.

Anonymous said...

Relatively professional exit process at LLNL. My gripes were the unnecessary PFD + sherriff deputies at the exit center entrance (Property Protection or grey/red badge area), and the redundant staff at the exit center. Maybe 100 people doing the work of 30 at the exit center, it seemed.

Looked like the age distribution was representative of the population as a whole. Makes sense... 54 scientists and engineers with less than 10 yrs on Thursday, 110 with more than 10 years go Friday. Division leader joined group leader for notifications of engineers.

Anonymous said...

LANL scientists and engineers need to start gathering their important papers and contact lists for when layoffs hit LANL.

You won't be given much time to gather up these critical job finding resources when you get handed a pink slip, as the situation at LLNL demonstrates.

Also, back up any of your computer files you'll need and have them at the ready for when they march you out of your office, never to return. Your data, source codes and any research papers may be unreachable after you've been told to suddenly vacate the premises.

Thanks a lot, NNSA. Your doing a hellavjob, D'Agostino! I'm sure Bechtel has a nice, cushy VP slot waiting for you after you retire.

Anonymous said...

It hasn't taken me very long to notice that LANL is full of a bunch of pointed-headed prima-donnas who are paid way too much money for what little work they do and that they whine far too often. No where else could you get away acting like this for an employer. But don't worry, because plans are in the works to solve this little problem once and for all.

Anonymous said...

And what plan would that be, 11:36 AM? It looks to me like LANS has already done a pretty good job of driving out many of the scientists at LANL.

Neko said...

Oh, Thursday and Friday were just loads of fun . . . Wait until the train hits career employees at LANL - seems all to easy when it's "just" contractors and flex terms. NOT!

Anonymous said...

"It hasn't taken me very long to notice that LANL is full of a bunch of pointed-headed prima-donnas who are paid way too much money for what little work they do and that they whine far too often. No where else could you get away acting like this for an employer. But don't worry, because plans are in the works to solve this little problem once and for all.

5/24/08 11:36 AM"

No matter what the people at Los Alamos will come out doing a lot better than you.
We are getting tired of hearing your " I hate people who have better jobs and lives than I do" rants. Life is unfair ... get over it. I take that back in your case life is very very fair. I take it from your posts that you are unemployed? Well even if some people at LANL get RIFed they will still end up getting jobs somewhere, you on the other hand will still be unemployed. If you look in the mirror you will see why it turned out so badly for you. Stop blaming the rest of the world for your own failures. It is not LANLs fault, it is not LLNLs fault, it is not your mothers fault, it is your own fracking fault ... got it. And thats the memo.

Anonymous said...

LOL - U R 2 Cute 6:56.

Neither you nor most LANL-ites I have met have any chance of competing in the highly competitive private or academic sectors.

Anyone who could has already left.

Anonymous said...

"LOL - U R 2 Cute 6:56.

Neither you nor most LANL-ites I have met have any chance of competing in the highly competitive private or academic sectors.

Anyone who could has already left.

5/24/08 9:47 PM"

Bullshit 9.47 PM. We have been through this several times before on the blog. Remember? Everytime you get your ass handed to you with the facts. And yes plenty of people can get jobs outside of the lab.
I know several people who are actively being pursuied by serveral places. You have no idea what you are talking about and you never did. Just because you cannot get a job does not mean other people cannot get a job, it just means that you suck. Again look at that mirror.

Anonymous said...

Oh My God! The sky is Falling....oh wait....different lab....oh wait...The Sky is Falling, you all are a bunch of fucking drama queens. Yeah I said it, now put your big bitch pants on and grow up.

Anonymous said...

"Oh My God! The sky is Falling....oh wait....different lab....oh wait...The Sky is Falling, you all are a bunch of fucking drama queens. Yeah I said it, now put your big bitch pants on and grow up.

5/24/08 11:47 PM"

Sounds like you are the one with your panties in a bunch. I guess you are that idiot who got RIFed back in 1994. Get over it and stop bitching about it. Mechels is the biggist drama queen who ever walked. Thats why they call him Chrissy. Yeah I said it now go crawl back under your rock.

Anonymous said...

"I know several people who are actively being pursuied by serveral places."

No, you don't. They would have left already. Or their offer is not nearly as good as they (mistakenly) think they deserve.

You mean that you know several people who claim they are being "pursuied," but who are in fact lying.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Sig Hecker. It's beyond me as to why any of the best and brightest would want to hang around LANL any longer. I guess it's taking some of them a little more time than expected to plan their escape route.

Once the exodus is complete, the population that is left behind will begin to sound more and more like poster 11:47 PM.

Anonymous said...

""I know several people who are actively being pursuied by serveral places."

No, you don't. They would have left already. Or their offer is not nearly as good as they (mistakenly) think they deserve.

You mean that you know several people who claim they are being "pursuied," but who are in fact lying.

5/25/08 10:09 AM"

How would you know and why should we believe you?

Do you work at the lab? I do not think so. If you worked at the lab you would
you would probably know several people as well. By my count I know seven, a couple may leave but the rest will be staying. I do not know what planet you are on but it is not earth. Where do fracking nuts like you come from? I bet you are our local loser Mr Mechels?

Anonymous said...

Good. Livermore has never been a contributor, more of an anchor around the neck of the albatross.

Anonymous said...

Over 440 laid off at LLNL? Go back to sleep, LANL-ites. That could never happen at LANL. Just keep repeating this phrase over and over:

"No RIFs, and and plans for a RIF".

I wonder if this still holds true once Mikey packs up and leaves town?

Anonymous said...

What are the odds that this
will come to LANL?

Zero.

The wiley senator Domenici managed to get the real punishment for the dozens of LANL safety and security fu***ps by you buttheads and cowboys placed on the hated sin-eating scapegoats of Livermore.

He is one crafty bastard. If only California senators had the same quality of frontal lobe dementia.

5th-generation bay area. Fk NM.

Anonymous said...

"...You are to be relegated to the "trash heap of history" with no fanfare or even notice from anyone..."

personal message to the bum that wrote this.

Maybe, but I'll do it with a hundred grand a year pension and a million dollar 403b, so bite me.

Anonymous said...

"It hasn't taken me very long to notice that LANL is full of a bunch of pointed-headed prima-donnas..."

dollars to donuts this turd never set foot in New Mexico.

Anonymous said...

"...most LANL-ites I have met have .."

doubtful that you met any in your typing class. ever been on the mesa?

Anonymous said...

"...you all are a bunch of fucking drama queens..."

getting boring again in AP history?
It's nice that freckle-faced sophomores get wified notebooks while in class. lowers the IQ of the blog.

Anonymous said...

"...Good. Livermore has never been a contributor, more of an anchor around the neck of the albatross..."

Hey, Senator Domenici is blogging again!

Anonymous said...

8:05 pm: "Maybe, but I'll do it with a hundred grand a year pension and a million dollar 403b, so bite me."

Great. So you're not one of the "you" I was talking about. Neither am I. Seems like we both got the UC parachute. Congratulations. Are you and your family ready for LANS to cancel your retiree health care?

Anonymous said...

""...you all are a bunch of fucking drama queens..."

getting boring again in AP history?
It's nice that freckle-faced sophomores get wified notebooks while in class. lowers the IQ of the blog.

5/26/08 8:13 PM"

Hey! freckle-faced sophomores have more sense that Mechels.

Anonymous said...

"The wiley senator Domenici managed to get the real punishment for the dozens of LANL safety and security fu***ps by you buttheads and cowboys placed on the hated sin-eating scapegoats of Livermore." - 7:57 PM

Have you taken a look at the two Senators who represent the state of California? Both Feinstein and Boxer hate the guts of the nuclear weapons world. Feinstein even said as much at the Congressional hearing with the lab Directors last month. You Liver-mites are in deep political doo-doo!

Thank goodness New Mexico has had a Senator who supports both of our NM labs. Unfortunately, I fear that Tommy-boy Udall is going to be replacing St. Pete in the next election.

A big Democratic wave is about to sweep over the nation in November. Once this happens, all bets are off as to the future of LANL. And even if Halliburton Heather wins for the GOP, she'll be facing a hostile Congress that is largely controlled by the Democrats and no friend of nuclear weapons work.

Heads, we lose. Tails, we lose. Get ready as best you can for the budgetary disaster that is headed LANL's way.

Anonymous said...

"We're all filthy rich up here on the Hill."

No, we're not filthy rich. Cindy McCain had more itemized deductions last year than my house is worth. That's filthy rich. Al Gore has enough money not just to own five houses but to assuage his conscience by buying carbon offset "indulgences" for all of them. That's filthy rich.

Los Alamos is filled with people holding advanced technical degrees, which generally draw six-figure incomes, plus loads of similarly-endowed UC retirees.

We're (most of us) comfortably ensconced in the upper middle class, no doubt, but how many million-dollar properties can you find in Los Alamos county?

Anonymous said...

Most of the calculation of wealth in Los Alamos is tied up in the lump-sum values of employee pensions, even though we are no longer allowed to take a lump-sum option.

If you worked as a scientist at LANL for 30 years, the worth of your pension in lump-sum cash is well over one million dollars. This is the main reason why Los Alamos consistently makes it to the top of these "wealthy city" lists.

However, most people living here are taking, or will be taking, a monthly pension payout (i.e., an annuity). They live well, but they are certainly not millionaires in the true sense of the word. I don't see any Rolls limousines on our streets and our local golf course can't compete with those in a truly wealthy city.

The Los Alamos "most wealthy" designation does more harm than good for this area. It's ludicrous to think that Los Alamos beats out truly wealthy cities like Palm Beach, FL.

Anonymous said...

And let's not forget the number of millionaires borne from the ashes of the Cerro Grande fire, compliments of FEMA - (no judgement intended nor implied here, many of my friends or their families became millionaires in less than a year's time at the cost of everything they owned prior).

Anonymous said...

and if you ever want to see a good example of the filthy rich, check out Forbes' listing of the 100 richest Americans. Now these people are friggin loaded with cash.

Anonymous said...

And not a single one of them lives in Los Alamos!