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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Changed view on organized labor

Anonymously contributed:

9 skilled craftsworkers were laid off back in February of 08 without the option of bargaining these layoffs as union members in the midst of one of the worst recessions in history. These craftsmen were hired and trained for 4 years at the taxpayers expense, as all of the 9 were recent graduates of the apprenticeship program, and trained in the workings and procedures of operations at the lab, for the ultimate benefit of the lab.
We as junior employees were of course paid less, less expensive to employ, and were always available for emergencies. Many of us were already Journey-level in other trades making us even more valuable due to our diverse experience and training.This of course mattered little to the new management when the axe fell. We, believing that UPTE would help us resolve this issue, put our faith in UPTE and helped to install them at the Laboratory with our votes and support. Now it comes to our attention that support for our cause may be shelved for "lack of interest". I believe this is a travesty and just goes to show, just maybe, that what this union is all about is DUES, get laid off, can't pay dues, well buddy you no longer exist to us. I must say that my frustration with the organization over this issue has changed my way of thinking about organized labor.


Anonymous said...

I have great empathy for this person. I was an apprentice many years ago at LLNL. This is an excellent example of stupidity, shortsightedness and lack of vision of the management.
I believe the union vote was reactionary and is counter to the "gut feelings" of the labs culture. That said, the current list of fools managing the crafts is more distant, less aware, more isolated, and lacks balls in both emplyee support or managing expectations for good service.
I suggest all relook at the union option. If they have stones, perhaps its time to evolve the culture.

Anonymous said...

I have mixed feelings.
The unions in Ca. are hurting. 87% of Laborors union in top half of Ca. are out of work.
I know the electrical union in Dublin had 250 on its list.

I think if Meg Whitman was elected it would have been the end of unions for a long time, they would not have recovered.

I personally do not want to be in a union. They give money to Democrats, they (teachers union) can't be fired and it hurts our childrens education and I cannot even sweep the floor because it is someone else job.

On the other hand Plant people were treated unfairly and poorly for years and now have some recourse.
I think it is more about in the past(10-20 yrs ago) Plants management treated the workers quite badly and now this is retribution.

So I respect our Plant workers but I don't care for unions.

Anonymous said...

Don't unions negotiate for junior members to be laid off first? They usually punish those just starting their careers to protect the well off senior members. The lab I think also follows this bad practice. Get rid of talented young people to save the old. Anyhow, it sounds like with or without unions these young workers were going to get the ax. That is a travesty and my heart goes out to you. May you find work soon.

Anonymous said...

So young people are "talented" and old people are....old?? Seems like you haven't had enough time to earn all that smug self-confidence. You need to come by it honestly, sonny.

Anonymous said...

"So young people are "talented" and old people are....old?? Seems like you haven't had enough time to earn all that smug self-confidence. You need to come by it honestly, sonny.

Well said... thank you!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like in one instance the Lab followed its layoff policy; those with least seniority go first.

Anonymous said...

Hate to break it to you greybeards. In the tech boom, especially computing, it is the young employees who have the up to date skills and are on the cutting edge. Mind you, I am a greybeard myself. Technology moves fast, and as far as I can see LLNL does not keep up for the most part.

James said...

There are many fallacies here, and the truth may interest those who have the patience to read on.

First, SPSE-UPTE has pointedly NOT abandoned the nine skilled crafts workers who were laid off in May of 2008. We continue to advocate for their reinstatement and back wages from the moment they were laid off down to the present. Indeed, we filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) immediately after the layoff, and it went to hearing in the summer of 2009. Those SPSE officers involved used well over a week of their own vacation time in preparing the case, and UPTE invested nearly $15,000 in legal fees to make the strongest possible showing at the hearing.

While we lost the initial hearing, the judge's decision was flawed, in that it ignored the issues before the court. UPTE immediately appealed the decision to the full NLRB in Washington DC, incurring still more legal expense. Our appeal has been delayed by the 2010 Supreme Court decision to vacate all NLRB judgments that occurred during a period when the Board had fewer members than the National Labor Relations Act defines as full strength. This means that our appeal is in a longer line than before, but by no means is it dead. Our remedy remains that the laid-off workers should be given their jobs back and awarded full back pay.

As for union dues, the represented skilled trades workers paid exactly ZERO dues prior to the signing of their first contract. Their first contract gave them an across-the-board wage increase of 8.3% in stages over the period from October 1, 2008 to October 1, 2009. This far outstrips anything their unrepresented counterparts in other Lab jobs saw over the same period. Dues, when they were finally charged, amounted to $35 a month (about $1.15 a day) rising to $40/month on January 1, 2010, an amount that pales in comparison to what they gained through their negotiated raise.

We have made good-faith efforts to stay in touch with all nine of the laid-off skilled trades members in the time since the May 2008 layoff. If the author of this post is in fact one of them, I urge them to get in touch with us at or (925) 449-4836.


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