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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Need advice

Dan asked:


I want to know if its a good idea to consider getting a "Flexible Term" position on the business side. It's something I am very qualified for. But I am not quite sure what Flexible term implies versus the alternative.

Sandia does 9/80 and holiday shutdown. At least they use to as of 5years ago when I was working there. Does LLNL have 9/80 and holiday shutdown?

The posts make it seem like LLNL is not a good place to work because people are generally unhappy (morale is down, work atmosphere is not enjoyable). That was the sense I got.

I fear leaving my job and ending up in a worse situation. My current job is not that bad just that I'm hoping to have a much shorter commute and the above mentioned benefits.

I'm thinking smaller population (LLNL) not as much corporate big company type stuff to deal with as a 100K+ employee population/Retail. The LLNL medical benefits don't seem as good as what I have currently. I have the best PPO plan and my monthly prems are $240 to cover my family; and deductible is $1K, out of pocket max is $4K for fam and most coverage is 80% with things such as prostate screening, mammogram, pap smear, immunizations covered at 100%.




Anonymous said...


You would not just be working for small ol''ll be working for LLNL, Bechtel, NNSA, the DOE and Congress.

I've never worked for a large corporation, but in my experience at LANL under LANS, it seems practically impossible to have a more bloated, stifling, inflexible, impenetrable, opaque, expensive, time consuming and non-value added bureaucracy that we have at the National Labs.

That's the UC managed side of things. The Bechtel managed side of things, including procurement, HR, facilities management, is actually a lot worse and more screwed up.

Honestly, every day will probably make you cringe at the madness.

At least with a 100K person company, there is a profit motive somewhere that can ultimately run insanity to the National Labs, the only profit motive is to earn the contractors' (LLNS/LANS) parent companies their award fees.

You won't participate in those fees, by the way. They whisk them away to the parent companies and what one gets as a Lab worker is a hearty 'thank you' from the Director for earning them another big award fee.

I don't know what LLNL's 'flexible term' employment is, but it sounds suspiciously like LANL's 'limited term.'

Limited Term employment means you work for a while, get some benefits, but they can dump you at a moment's notice and there is no assurance whatsoever that you'll get a permanent job before the end of the term.

Unless a shorter commute absolutely means the world to you and you'd prefer that in exchange for teeth-grinding frustration and totally irrational bureaucracy and micro-management, then a job at a National Laboratory is for you.

Otherwise, I suspect you're likely to be horribly, horribly disappointed.

Anonymous said...

You see a lot of complaints posted on this blog and on the now retired LANL blog because a lot of people remember how good it WAS to work at the labs.

There are pocket areas of the lab that have exciting research, but both LANS and LLNS penchant for risk reduction and profit margin, at the behest of NNSA, have quickly strangled the creativity that these institutions once had.

A Flex Term assignment is the middle ground between a Indeterminate Employee and a Contract Employee. A Flex term employee is easier to push out the door than an FTE, but not as easy as pulling the plug on a contract employee.

The lab does support 9/80 schedules, but that is something the program that you work for must allow. You work for the lab, the lab does not work for you.

There is no holiday shutdown. If you are around during those days it will seem like a ghost town, but the place keeps running 24x7, 365 days per year.

The lab used to be a place where you didn't quite make what the outside world was making but you had a great retirement plan, good medical and some real interesting work opportunities. That is no longer the case. I tell people you can come and get a job here, but don't think you can make a career. We are run by a construction company for NNSA, a subsidiary of the DOE, the second worst run department in government, with DHS taking 1st prize.

If you want to join us, feel free. A buck is a buck.

Anonymous said...

There is a chance that things could work out well for you. However, being a Flex Term on the business side of the Lab is very risky. They have a record of high terminations and continuous budget issues.

Anonymous said...

Dan - If LLNL really represents a shorter commute for you, then you are almost for sure in a town with LLNL employees living there. Ask around. Listen to the opinions people are willing to offer you face-to-face. Like any organization, LLNL has it's minuses and pluses. Go figure, it's called a job.

Anonymous said...

Flex-term just means the employment conditions are the same as for anyone else in California.

I've worked for big companies, small companies, and LLNL. LLNL was the most frustrating and suffocating place I ever worked. The pay is good though so if you can stand it for a bit (actually the first year you likely won't notice the negatives) then go for it.

Anonymous said...

Don't listen to all the whiners, Dan. It's clear that they don't even work at today's LLNL.

Come on aboard! We would love to have you join us if you have the necessary "can do" attitude and can follow all the rules.

The NASA labs are run by one of the finest management teams you'll find anywhere in America. There's been a remarkable increase in productivity, efficiency and morale since the LLCs took over and began fixing things. You'll love working here!

Anonymous said...

Hey july 20th 10:04AM
High morale?
I would dove to know what division you are in.

Anonymous said...

Yo, July 20, 2010 10:04 AM, LLNL is a NNSA lab, not a NASA lab. Clearly you do not work here.

LLNL is an OK place to work if your only other option is a greeter at Walmart. Otherwise keep looking. There's no job security at LLNL anymore plus the bureaucracy has become smothering.

Anonymous said...


Before signing on, take a look at this instructional video teaching the staff at LANL (LLNL's sister lab) how to use stairs.

This is the type of "neat" stuff you can learn while working at the NNSA labs. If you can handle this, then Welcome Aboard (and remember to always were "shoes that GRIP!"):

"How to use the stairs" (LANL) - YouTube

Anonymous said...


Don't hire in as a contractor. We are up to 40 (and increasing) contractors being terminated in the Waste Disposition Project (WDP) at LANS. Without any warning these workers have been tasked to pack their belongings and move on. Contractors are LANS/LLNS scum.

Anonymous said...

In this economic climate, having either job is a good thing. Satisfaction, Commutes, deductibles and work schedules are secondary. A paycheck. That's what's important.

Anonymous said...

July 20, 2010 10:04 AM

Love the sarcasm.

Anonymous said...

Its a job.

It used to be an adventure,but now its just a job. You figure out what's important and do it. With lots of foolishness and confusion to temper the sense of accomplishment. So you develop hobbies and interests to offset the fact that your skills and expertise are wasting away.

The paycheck and benefits are average and secure probably like working for PG&E; so if you are mediocre or are talented with the ability to turn off you brain, or have a detached sense of irony, you can learn to tolerate the futility, and occasional bouts of disgust.

If you have drive or can't suffer fools, I don' think this new business is the place for you.

As a result of the organizational upheavals, we now have many folks who go about their jots like George W. Bush did, faking it, taking up space until their term is up.

After all, like George, little of what we do matters. And what we do that matters, our organization is no longer able do well.

Anonymous said...

7/23 2:24 am: Your otherwise marginally useful advice was spoiled by your reflexive, seemingly unconscious bash of George Bush. Your obvious agenda thus destroyed your own credibility. Sorry you don't get that.

Anonymous said...

Of all the nonsense posted on this blog, a comment referencing George Bush is what pushed you over the edge? My advice to the originator of this post, ignore evrything on this blog, including this post.


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