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Sunday, April 20, 2008

Livermore lab job losses a blow to area economy

This article sums up what most of us feel. I suggest you copy it and send it to your congress people using the link on the side bar titled: "email all your congress people in 1 shot"

Contra Costa Times

Livermore lab job losses a blow to area economy
MediaNews editorial
04/19/2008 11:04:33 PM PDT

The corporate management of the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, which began Oct. 1, is not working. For the third time this year, the staff is being reduced to the point that the future of the lab is in jeopardy.

In May, the new lab management contract for a consortium of private businesses led by the University of California and Bechtel Corp. was announced amid much optimism.

Lab director George Miller predicted a smooth transition. He said new efficiencies, attrition and other changes would save enough revenue to prevent layoffs.

He was dead wrong. Slightly more than a month after the consortium took the helm of the lab, it announced 500 layoffs of temporary and support employees, which took place in January.

In March, 215 permanent employees took buyouts. Others retired or left and were not replaced. In fact, 900 employees, most of them highly skilled, have left the lab this year. But it still isn't enough, according to Miller.

The latest announcement of staff reductions was made Tuesday. As many as 535 more employees could be cut. This time the layoffs would be involuntary and would affect permanent career employees.

What went wrong with predictions of no layoffs? The most benign answer is that the consortium simply underestimated the increased costs associated with corporate management.

Originally, the corporation formed by UC, Bechtel and several other companies to run the lab expected about $80 million in increased costs. The actual cost increase is $280 million. So much for efficiency or accuracy in financial projections.

Most of the additional costs — $200 million — is the result of the lab's loss of the tax-exempt status it had under UC management.

The yearly management fee was increased from $8 million to $46 million. Also, retirement and health benefit costs have been higher than estimated.

We are a bit skeptical that a supposedly skilled management team could be unintentionally so far off in estimating increased costs, especially considering the size of the cost of losing tax exemptions. It is also suspicious that so many staff reductions have come so quickly.

We were supportive of the management changes in the wake of security lapses and financial errors at the Livermore and Los Alamos labs, which were run solely by UC.

However, with such rapid shrinkage of the Livermore lab's staff, we now have cause to think the federal government made a mistake in seeking bids for new management instead of pushing for changes within UC's managers.

The loss of so many skilled employees at the Livermore lab reduces its productivity and makes it a less desirable place to work.

Lack of job security at a financially troubled facility is likely to make it far more difficult to attract the top talent that has been the foundation of the lab's success over the years.

Making matters worse, the federal government has been less than generous in funding the lab in the past few years.

With diminished funding, higher than forecast costs and a declining work force, the Livermore lab faces an uncertain future that could be a painful loss for the East Bay economy.


Anonymous said...

Outstanding article. Who was the author. This coincided with what was posted as suspicions on a previous post here .

I'm sure as more and more newspapers dig deeper and deeper, the rocks are overturned the trash will be dug up and culprits exposed. Once they're drug out and flogged maybe we can get back to UC, recover our losses and move on in the right direction under a well establish command that knows how to treat people. Thanks for keeping us informed bolgmaster.

Anonymous said...

"Making matters worse, the federal government has been less than generous in funding the lab in the past few years."

See George Bush and the NNSA

Anonymous said...

And guess what? We're going to release 2000 more employees in FY-09 and preparation for this event starts Oct 1st, 2008 but we'll know more around feb of 2009 when we see what our real budget is. I suspect it should be another $283M in the hole. $63M from FY-08 and a 10% reduction in labs funds which equates to ~ $2.2M. Add the two together and we have a debt of $283M before we get started. If we use NIF's formula where the release of 100 employees equals a savings of $10M, how many do we have to release in FY-09.

Anonymous said...

Each week 350,000 people are laid off and file for unemployment.

The few hundred at LLNL are a drop in the bucket.

Anonymous said...

Those that missed the cost estimates (or failed to tell the truth for some reason) should be the first to be fired, not rewarded with a high salary. Where are the checks and balances? Someone should tell Miller that he should be the first to go, and his ill equipped cronies should follow him directly. This is a disgrace and unacceptable that these increased costs should be a "surprise" to anyone. A scientist would be fired for such errors. Why are they all given a pass on this? Where is the management responsibility these days? Or does everyone think it is just bad times so bad things will happen. Good planning should have prepared for this, and hiring should have been frozen for a long time, particularly those overpaid new managers. Why do the innocent suffer while those who are getting rich by being "in charge" continue on as if all is well?? Get mad!!!!

Anonymous said...

The irony is that the NNSA would have saved $300M by doing nothing. But instead they went out of their way to increase costs and at the same time devastate one of the nation's crown jewels in science and technology. I suppose they wanted to do this so they can have complete control. NNSA should grow up.

Anonymous said...

I commend you for your astuteness and for taking a stand. Many of us at LLNL knew from the get-go that management had been planning this "restructuring" early on, probably before the spring of '07. Their actions were definitely not the result of incompetence or ignorance. You better believe that these folks have examined every aspect of every decision made ad nauseum. The bumbling image that George portrays is not accidental. These people are creeps!

Anonymous said...

Some of you need more constructive hobbies. Posting illogical badly thought out lies and half truths here is sick, counter productive and pathetic. The real picture is kind of bleak, no doubt. It can and will be dealt with. How that is going to happen is anyone's guess but it's pretty clear that most of the trolls here are going to have little or no impact on that final outcome.

It is nice to see some objective coverage in the press. Widely revealing the nature and scope of the idiocy that led us to this place is a very important step towards resolution.

Anonymous said...

April 20, 2008 9:06 PM

Well said...

Anonymous said...

"Those that missed the cost estimates (or failed to tell the truth for some reason) should be the first to be fired, not rewarded with a high salary."

Wake up and take a look at how the real world operates. LLNL has been living in a fantasy land for the last decade while the real world has been changing. Pension are only for the CEOs these days. Medical benefits are being cut and retirement medical is being scraped. Job security is non-existent. That's the way the corporate world works, and LLNL is now part of this "for-profit" dog-eat-dog world.

Get used to it, because more is coming. George and the boys in LLNS are just getting warmed up for the Second Act. It's going to be a real doosy.

Anonymous said...

"...Some of you need more constructive hobbies. Posting illogical badly thought out lies and half truths here is sick, counter productive and pathetic.....the trolls here are going to have little ...blah blah blah."

One of the PR girls from B111 woke up for long enough to read the blog. Wow!

Anonymous said...

April 20, 2008 9:06 PM

The article says no more than what any of the posters are saying, they're just nicer if that's what you are alluding too. If it wasn't for the blogmaster having rules that control what verbiage they can post you'd get a better feel for what they really think. If it wasn't for laws, you'd get a better feel for what they feel inside. It's only regulations that saves your butt, and someday the typical employee just isn't going to care about that. Then and only then it seems you'll get the point. Will that change the final outcome of NNSA dream world, probably not, but it will surely give pleasure to the giver. That's called self satisfaction which during these times outweighs logic. Let's hope a congressional hearing very fast terminates the two LLC and we can get back to UC in conjunction with the transfer of funds from the war to something useful. Since that's logical I doubt it will ever happen, so I guess the bottom line is, LLNL has been successfully destroyed and we need to let the ship sink. Just as if this were to occur in the ocean the object was to swim as far away from the sinking ship before you got caught in the vortex and taken under with her. For anyone who's smart you should start you venture not.

Anonymous said...

Oh yay, grade school put downs. Very very impressive. And some of you wonder why you'll be without jobs in a few weeks.

The real question should be why you were hired in the first place with that kind of reaction. If you want to talk about the labs failures start there.

Anonymous said...

Nobody worth keeping around is going to let this ship sink.

The right things to do are A, everything legally possible to take out the idiots that got us here and B, everything that is legally possible to make sure the lab survives and thrives. As theoretically patriotic Americans there can be no other rational course of action.

I get the whole "I'm really really pissed about this situation" attitude. I live it every day. Reacting like a spoiled immature imbecile isn't contributing anything worthwhile and is a distraction at best, highly counter productive at worse. So if the point is to undermine your country, your coworkers and yourself than by all means continue. The adults will just have to keep on trying to wipe up your drool and find a way out of this mess.

Anonymous said...

The lab LLCs had nothing to do with making the NNSA weapon labs more efficient. That has become clear over time. They had everything to do with making certain people very rich at the expense of both the government and the general lab work force.

However, even though Congress is now steamed over the rising costs, I don't expect them to reverse the decision. They'll expect the labs to deal with the higher costs by cutting salaries and benefits and by reducing the head count.

Anonymous said...

"However, even though Congress is now steamed over the rising costs, I don't expect them to reverse the decision. They'll expect the labs to deal with the higher costs by cutting salaries and benefits and by reducing the head count."

The other thing Congress will do is to minimize the blood letting by cutting the NNSA labs' budgets even more. And guess who will suffer the consequences? Me and you.

Anonymous said...

I agree with this:

The right things to do are (A), everything legally possible to take out the idiots that got us here and

(B) , everything that is legally possible to make sure the lab survives and thrives.

Not going to waste my time. It's not what (A) wants and "they" are in Washington, DC. It would take a revolution to make good changes in this country.

Anonymous said...

Since the ship appears to be sinking, why are we getting our feet wet, and upper management is in the only life boat?

Anonymous said...

Gee, 7:43 AM. POT? KETTLE? BLACK? Don't want to get into a name-calling feud, but labeling folks drooling, spoiled immature imbeciles doesn't seem to be the height of adult behavior.

As far as your A and B: it ain't gonna happen, my patriotic friend. Not sure what it will become, but there is no way the Lab survives and thrives. Oh sure, there might be something there for a while that is still called LLNL, but it won't be the Lab. Just a shell of its former self.

Anonymous said...

April 21, 2008 7:39 PM

Ditto to whomever. Maybe 1000 strong but from what I can tell that'll be about 50% over populated. They need to close the gates of this facility and do it quick. A few people for NIF ( if it works), a few for the super computer and that should about do it. Don't take many support people to maintain two buildings. If NIF doesn't work or it gets it's budget cut entirely, you don't have to worry about that super computer nether. That machine will be sitting at LANL where in the future all nuclear weapons work will be done. Face it. They win, you have lost.

Anonymous said...

April 21, 2008 7:39 PM, that's loser talk. The problem with loser talk is that it generally goes hand in hand with a loser mentality. Which not surprisingly almost always leads to losing.

Hey, we may get our back sides kicked anyway. The early indicators certainly aren't good. We certainly won't win however if we don't try. And the stakes are far to high not to make the effort.

In regards to insults, guilty as charged. It's more than a little difficult to deal with some of the crap that gets said and suggested here and I won't claim to be at my best right now patience wise, who is? However I'd claim my primary sin here is being a bit too blunt in describing what I'm reading.

For me it comes down to this. If we're half as clever as we think we are we're going to find a way out of this mess. If we're not, than we probably deserve whatever we end up getting.

Anonymous said...

Well the trouble with some people is they don't know when they've lost. You must be the Black Knight of LLNL. It's just a flesh wound! If you never give up, you can't possibly lose. That's the spirit. 'Tis but a scratch.

Anonymous said...

April 22, 2008 4:30 PM

It's over. Lock the gates and Get-R-Done

Anonymous said...

I now believe that this layoff was in the original LLNS management plan, long before the transition happened. Why else were they so adamant about forcing the Resource Analyst community into the CFO's directorate rather than within each directorate ie: PAT, NAI, Comp, etc. The RAs are now "matrixed" employees from the CFO's office and many of us are subject to being laid off in May. You bet...this was in the plan all along. George Miller and his staff have been lying to employees for 2 years now. I have absolutely no trust in this organization at all and probably never will again. Moral is horrible and the future is bleak!

Anonymous said...

April 24, 2008 11:24 AM

You better believe it. The 3161 is going to get rid of a bunch of you bean counters.

I am so sick of being asked for data that do not exist just so you folks can make your graphs and projections. Then when they are wrong, you just adjust the tax rates so the fat Lab overhead organizations balance their budgets at the expense of my programs.

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