Nov 14, 2008

New LANL Benefits Cut

Hello Frank,

This LANL internal email has been flying around as a fwd of a fwd of a fwd etc.

What seems to be new is: "The vacation will NOT be automatically transfer to sick leave as it does now. It is use or lose."

I've not seen any announcement of official new policy, though.

Please keep this anonymous.

Thanks.
Admins,

In the new OTL system when an employee reaches their vacation maximum, the will no longer accrue any further vacation until they are under their maximum.

The vacation will NOT be automatically transfer to sick leave as it does now. It is use or lose.

Here are the maximums based on hire date and years of service.

Also, employees can go to MYLANL and look at "Vacation Sick Detail. Look at Cutback Max, they will see the max that they have been assigned.

35 comments:

Anonymous said...

Just marvelous! Mikey will announce at the next All Hands meeting how this will improve morale!

Anonymous said...

In deed 'marvelous', but Mikey will never hold another All Hands meeting.

Anonymous said...

Mikey WILL hold more All Hands meetings. Attendance will be poor but LANS will tell the DOE that we were all in our offices watching on LABNET.

And, other than the usual question about childcare, there will be no questions.

Anonymous said...

3:32 - oh yes he will, because he knows nobody at LANL has the balls to question anything he says or does without staying anonymous.

Anonymous said...

Mikey has become a non-person as far as most staff at LANL are concerned.

As far as benefits go, the real cuts are still to come. With a bad economy, LANS may feel they can start making some big changes by applying DOE's 105% market limit caps. The benefit surveys that will be made during this upcoming severe recession will give LANS all the ammunition they need to justify their cuts.

First on the chopping block will be severence (both future and present accumulations). Severance creates financial difficulties with layoff planning so you can expect that LANS will extra work hard to minimize severance at LANL.

You can also expect LANS to throttle back the amount of match they allow with TCP2, as this hurts the thread bare operating budget.

Anonymous said...

But, but....I thought there was a shortage of scientists and engineers?

Anonymous said...

1:47 AM said (sarcastically to be sure) "But, but....I thought there was a shortage of scientists and engineers?"

For 40 years academia, government and industry has said that we need more scientists and engineers. They are just not willing to actually pay for more.

Anonymous said...

Mikey seems oblivious to the staff's growing discontent with LANS management but LANS is near the tipping point. Senior staff in one division have discussed how to take the division private if the new administration doesn't act to fix the LANS/LLNS problem.

Anonymous said...

"...Senior staff in one division have discussed how to take the division private if the new administration doesn't act to fix the LANS/LLNS problem. - 11/15/08 8:53 AM"

Middle-staff (the ones who get the money and do the work) in my area have already been considering this option for WFO for a few years. It is a risky plunge, but from some experiences appears to be an increasingly viable option as LANS goes into the final tailspin. Our sponsors are ok with the idea.

Anonymous said...

"...For 40 years academia, government and industry has said that we need more scientists and engineers. They are just not willing to actually pay for more. - 11/15/08 7:51 AM"

Don't need to "pay for more" because of the low-priced high-quality technical workforce available from outside our borders. Foreign nationals receiving citizenship and Q-clearances are leaving the experienced entitlement-minded scientists and engineers high and dry.

Anonymous said...

What a great idea. I would love to see WFO leave LANS and strike out on their own. At least it would no longer be a one horse town. I have optimism for the first time in years!

Anonymous said...

"At least it would no longer be a one horse town. I have optimism for the first time in years!"
11/15/08 5:43 PM"

You missed the point. The work and the jobs would leave the hill!

Anonymous said...

"You missed the point. The (WFO) work and the jobs would leave the hill!" - 8:32 PM

Jobs will be leaving the Hill regardless. LANL is clearly headed on a downward spiral and NNSA only needs a few things from the place: a couple of pits per year, some plutonium research, and the appearance that some "science" is still going on at the lab. This scenario can be accommodated with a much smaller lab and far fewer expensive scientists.

The lab's head count has been reduced from about 11,500 to 9,500. It's going to probably stabilize around 6,500 with most of the remaining positions in the area of support and management.

Anonymous said...

The lab should seriously consider outsourcing many of their services. For example, safety, health, radiation protection and HR could easily be outsourced. LANL should keep their scientists as their key employees, not the other way around. LANL's future is with its scientific staff, not its support staff.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 11/16/08 11:52 AM suggests outsourcing such things as HR, safety, health, etc.
Sure, that would make good sense.

BUT, the likelihood is that those things will be kept inside and it will be the direct-funded scientists, engineers, and technicians that will be outsource.

Anonymous said...

". . . outsourcing . . . 11/16/08 11:52 AM"


This likely would have happened if Paul Robinson's outfit had been awarded the LANL contract. Imagine LANL as "Sandia North", with a shared management team and common adminsitrative organizations. Consider the cost savings thereby achieved.

Anonymous said...

"The lab should seriously consider outsourcing many of their services."

Isn't that exactly what the US Government (DOE and NNSA) has done with the national labs? Government Owned but Contractor run, instead of Government Owned and Government run... and we see how well this has worked, especially under LANS.

In reality under the DOE model to contracting there is not much cost savings for outsourcing of major support services that are intertwine with lab operations. Why? Well, DOE forces us to impose on our subcontractors the same DOE specific rules/orders that they impose on us. And guess what... the subcontractor charges us for the additional cost.

Armed protective force at LANL is outsourced, but we still have a Security Department of LANS employees overseeing the contract and establishing internal polices/procedures for us to follow. We're also paying the security company to comply with convoluted DOE standards that they wouldn't care about if they were guarding some bank in town.

Outsourcing at the lab works best when its used as a "body shop" for hands that do the bidding of lab supervisors and managers.

Anonymous said...

The ability to replace sick leave with excess vacation is not going away, it will just no longer happen automatically with the new Oracle payroll system. People with excess vacation will have to actually fill out a form to request the switch to sick leave. Not really too much to ask, I would think, for another of those special benefits found only at LANL>

Anonymous said...

The support and management side at LANL always have the overhead charge codes to protect their jobs, no matter how dire the budget situation.

It's the scientists who must find project charge codes for their pay and who are at risk of losing jobs at LANL. Not that LANS cares, mind you. They have even made the situation worse by cracking down on project charge code "abuse". Has anyone on an overhead account ever been charged with fraud on their use of overhead? I highly doubt it.

It's going to be every scientist for himself at LANL as the "science" side of the lab soon implodes under the weight of LANS. We have "the world's best and brightest support and management team" supporting... well, what exactly?

Anonymous said...

Pension Check -
New rule could change pension payouts for some new retirees

By Robert Powell, MarketWatch
Last update: 7:02 p.m. EST Nov. 13, 2008

BOSTON (MarketWatch) -- First, the good news, because it won't take as long: Many of the nation's largest traditional pension plans were healthy as of year-end 2007. In fact, the median pension funded status of the S&P 500 firms rose to 94% at year end 2007, up from 89% in 2006, according to a recent Mercer report.

The bad news? A growing number of defined-benefit pension plans, especially small- to-mid-sized plans, could be in trouble this year because of the struggling stock market combined with a little-known provision in the Pension Protection Act of 2006.

Under PPA, firms with defined-benefit plans have to use something called the Adjusted Funding Target Attainment Percentage, or AFTAP, when calculating pension distributions for newly retiring workers.

The AFTAP, in essence, measures a plan's funded status. A plan that can pay out all that it owes its retiring workers is 100% funded. In days of yore, employers would typically offer retiring workers the option of taking their pension either in a lump sum or an annuity. But starting in 2008, the law requires employers tell workers if their plan does not have sufficient funds to pay out all of the employees, according to Brett Goldstein, pension administrator and president of the Pension Department, a consulting firm in Plainview, N.Y.

If the pension plan does not have enough money to pay at least 80% of the employees, then the notice states that employees can only get 50% of their pension as a lump sum and the remainder as an annuity. If the pension plan does not have enough money to pay at least 60% of the employees, then the notice states that employees can't get their benefit as a lump sum, only as an annuity.

Given the big decline in the stock market this year, the AFTAP will likely come into play, especially for would-be retirees at many small- to mid-sized firms, Goldstein said. Goldstein estimates that workers at some 25% of small- to mid-sized firms will be offered the "under-funded" payout options when they retire in 2008 instead of the traditional full lump sum or annuity options. And that could lead to financial distress for some households, he said.

Workers who are worried about their pension benefits should ask their human-resources department whether their pension plan is under-funded and, if so, by how much. Also, workers should ask whether they will be offered the fully funded options or the under-funded options when they retire.

*****

Note that the LANS TCP1 pension no longer offers any lump sum pay out. LANS took that away from the employees turning the hand-off from UCRP. You can pretty easily speculate as to why they might have decided to take away this option. It's still available at most other company pensions.

Anonymous said...

Note that the LANS TCP1 pension no longer offers any lump sum pay out. LANS took that away from the employees turning the hand-off from UCRP. You can pretty easily speculate as to why they might have decided to take away this option. It's still available at most other company pensions

LANS did not take away this option, NNSA did. Under ERISA rules, the lump sum payouts would have been much greater than under UCRP. This increased amount was considered an unearned windfall to those who transferred to the LANS plan and NNSA therefore decided not to allow it. Lump sum did go away, but not because of anything LANS did.

Anonymous said...

On the subject of TCP1. Has anybody found out its status? I know the ERISA law requires LANS to give out an annual statement, but nobody has received one after 2 1/2 years. How does LANS get away with this? Are they stupid, arrogant, or hiding something?

Anonymous said...

Can't they be all three?

greg close said...

11/17/08 5:33 PM "On the subject of TCP1. Has anybody found out its status? I know the ERISA law requires LANS to give out an annual statement, but nobody has received one after 2 1/2 years. How does LANS get away with this? Are they stupid, arrogant, or hiding something?"

Ummmm... Summary Annual Reports are and have been available for viewing at your leisure on the LANL Benefits Web Site. All reporting well within ERISA guidelines. I think the latest batch (for 2007 Plan Year) are done and just going through pesky communication planning etc. Keep in mind that the SAR that reflects the current market woes won't be due out until next year this time, so don't expect to see any doom and gloom reflected in the reports posted in 2008.

So, it's not so much LANS "getting away with anything" as people not paying as much attention as they might think they are. And, for the curious, "LANS" doesn't have much to do with the SARs. It's just the actuaries and a couple of folks in Benefits making sure the 5500's are filed with the IRS and the reports meet the requirements and get posted on-line and sent out via LINKS. No vast conspiracy. We ARE working on a vast conspiracy of course, but the logistics... OYE! So difficult to organize without the new ORACLE Conspiracy Module, which isn't due for implementation until 2011 (after the kinks with payroll are worked out).

Anonymous said...

"The ability to replace sick leave with excess vacation is not going away, it will just no longer happen automatically with the new Oracle payroll system. People with excess vacation will have to actually fill out a form to request the switch to sick leave. Not really too much to ask, I would think, for another of those special benefits found only at LANL"

Is this documented in writing somewhere? I am currently at the limit and was planning on it replacing sick leave.

Anonymous said...

Is this documented in writing somewhere? I am currently at the limit and was planning on it replacing sick leave.

The current process should continue for the rest of this year (12/31/2008), but contact the Payroll team to make sure opr to make other arrangements.

Anonymous said...

I've seen lots of news stories of late regarding pension that are reporting current funding status and not just the status from way back in 2007.

LANS only follows the rules to the bare minimum. Why is that? If things aren't that bad they should let us know. Many TCP1 employees are curious about their pension status giving this bad economy.

Uh oh, I forgot. LANS really doesn't give a sh*t about their employees, do they? That's why they say nothing unless they are forced to release the information.

..................
Florida pension fund loses a quarter its value

November 18, 2008

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- Florida's public employee pension plan has lost more than a quarter of its peak value, but Gov. Charlie Crist and other officials Monday said the fund is built for the long haul and there's no need to panic.

They said Florida has fared no worse than most big investors -- a bit better than some major Wall Street indicators -- due to slumps in the stock market, real estate and other segments of the national and world economies.

The fund, which covers state and local government employees including teachers, lost $37.9 billion -- 27 percent -- over 13 months through Oct. 31, said Dennis MacKee, spokesman for the State Board of Administration. That dropped its value to $100.5 billion.

The three-member board chaired by Crist manages 34 public funds totaling $125.4 billion, including investments for the Lottery, the state's hurricane catastrophe fund and local governments. The largest by far, though, is the retirement plan covering almost 1 million public employees, retirees and their families.

"All funds are down all over the country, let's face it," Crist said. "Florida's a lot better off than most."

greg close said...

11/18/08 5:50 PM - "That's why they say nothing unless they are forced to release the information."

Do you have any idea how long it takes to get an institutional communication written and approved at LANS? I didn't think so. Premature communication sure makes a nice illusion of transparency, but it doesn't make for good data. So, ask yourself - do you want to know what the value of TCP1 is now, or, do you want to know what the real, lasting, effect of this financial crisis is going to have on TCP1 long term and have a realistic picture of stability, or possible contributions, or what have you?

For example: if the market crashed 500 points in one day, and you rush to send out a communication immediately, to show how open you are with your employees - then the market continues to crash 500 points every day for the next week - the employer who was trying to be so open now looks like a liar. So, fast is not always best or most honest.

I don't know what evil plans LANS is concocting to deprive you all of life, liberty and happiness, but I do know that there is no conspiracy resident in Benefits. Believe what you want, but there are just a few of us down here, and we're just flat out busy (the crash was inconveniently timed to coincide with Open Enrollment, Oracle Payroll implementation, and the replacement of three carriers with a new one, with all the system, process, and plan set up that involves. All of which is saving 90% of Lab employees lots of money in reduced premiums, by the way... 12 cent annual increase for rounding issues, not withstanding).

We have ALL OF OUR interests at heart, and to date, no black suited LANS Mafioso's have stormed in and forced us to do or not do anything untoward. You may not know what we're doing, or agree with how we're doing it, but our action or inaction has nothing to do with your overall "LANS doesn't care about me" philosophy. Maybe LANS doesn't care, but we certainly do.

Anonymous said...

Greg,

"Do you have any idea how long it takes to get an institutional communication written and approved at LANS?"

Well, yes, we do. When the blog gets it right, it's usually about 2-3 weeks ahead of any official release from senior management.

My question is, why does it take so long for even the simplest memo? I assume everything has to go through Lab Legal and Classification review... but that shouldn't take more than a day or two if prioritized appropriately.

It really makes senior management look like they are asleep at the wheel. (And yet they can roll out a new training requirement within 48 hours... What's the priority here???).

I know this is outside your purview so I don't really expect you to answer for the Director on this one. It's just something I've wondered more than once.

greg close said...

When we're talking about an institutional communication re: an ERISA qualified plan, there is a lot more scrutiny and legal requirements than just going through the Director and Legal. Under ERISA there are both settlor and fiduciary functions that must be met (as well as feeding the internal LANS bureacracy beast). This is a huge deal, and not at all a simple memo, and therein lies the wait.

If it were just a simple memo, I would agree - it should be out there right now. Fact is, it's just NOT that simple. As I mentioned before, getting it right is paramount to any release of pension related information - the stakes are simply too high for persons enrolled in TCP1. I would much rather people are upset at us that it's taking too long, than upset at us that the information we released wasn't absolutely accurate.

Anonymous said...

Well folks, if you want a decent measure of how TCP-1 is doing, look at your individual 401K and 403b accounts. My combined Fidelity accounts have tanked 50% this year alone.

Anonymous said...

Don't worry, 9:03 PM. Wallace recently told his employees that the TCP1 pension is doing just fine.

On second thought, better start worrying!!!

Anonymous said...

In case people missed it, you can increase your LANL supplemental life insurance level from x4 to x5 during this year's Open Enrollment.

Given the dangerous stress levels present at LANL, increasing your life insurance may not be such a bad idea.

Anonymous said...

November 19, 2008

Response to time and effort changes

Policy 730 is being rewritten, so, yes, there is a contradiction with the existing policy in effect right now, but there will not be a contradiction with the revised policy to be effective December 29. The draft revision reads as follows:


3.1.2 Maximum Accrual

Once an employee reaches the maximum accrual, no more vacation is accrued until the balance drops below the limit. Employees may avoid losing vacation accrual by taking any of the following actions before they reach the maximum accrual:

Take vacation
Initiate an adjustment to replace any sick leave hours taken during the leave year
Donate vacation hours to the Catastrophic Leave Bank. See Catastrophic Paid Leave for more information.
--Jim Eakins

Anonymous said...

Now there's a thought for all you complaining about losing vacation. Try donating it to someone who probably needs it more than you.