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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Pay freeze!

Anonymously contributed:

No one mentioned the pay freeze yet?

Department of Energy Announces Two Year Pay Freeze on Site and Facility Management Contractor Employees

Released on a Friday just before the quietest week of the year with many people already on vacation. LANL was on a snow day today and their employees will first hear this from the media rather than their management.

The NNSA labs are getting around a 20% increase in NW funding this year and can hardly keep up with the necessary hiring for upcoming programs. How can the Secretary state that the labs can hire the best and the brightest when there is a pay freeze in place?

Sandia is dealing with large numbers of retirements in 2010 and 2011 due to retirement benefit changes. New engineers don't have the golden handcuffs and are fine with leaving for the significantly better benefits at Google and other places.


Anonymous said...

per the article...what does...
"For sites that have already approved and implemented increases, the freeze would begin at the beginning of their next salary increase cycle and also last two years." mean?
The lab had gotten approval for salary increases and the CIP was announced on Dec 15th. It was my understanding that we were approved. Since all complexes moved to a Jan 1 anniversary date, I have yet to know who might have "implemented" as of yet. I must say the timing of this is rather crazy - two days after the CIP announced and a week before Christmas - two weeks before the effective date of any increases. I would have expected a DOE announcement right after Obama's announcement for federal workers. To wait for nearly a month to tag along seems inconsiderate of all DOE contractors.

Anonymous said...

I wonder when the camel's back will break?

Anonymous said...

We've already heard from several top performers at Sandia that they are getting their resumes ready. Google's been poaching on a regular basis and we don't have enough manpower as it is. An email went out Friday at 1:30 and the buildings were empty by 2. The timing of this is insane and insulting.

Anonymous said...

There are two significantly worrying aspects to this announcement: firstly, the timing, and secondly, the message. The timing has been addressed in previous posts, so I will address the message.

The administration continually touts the "best and brightest" mantra, and why this is so critical to the national security mission for the country. But the contrary message in Friday's announcement is "we can't afford to pay them." Furthermore, this is a continuation of a disturbing trend. For the last several years, the LLNL salary package for scientists and engineers has been in the 1-3% range (data can be found on, while inflation has run in the 3-4% range nationally, and substantially higher in the Bay area.

In the past, justifications have been the benefits package and comparisons to other high tech companies. Pre-transition, the UC benefits were superior to what is typical elsewhere, but post-transition this is no longer the case. Staff hired under LLNS are not eligible for the pension plan, and a 6% 401k match is not atypically generous. The other benefits (medical, dental, vision, legal and term life insurance plans) are also comparable.

The remaining justification is compatibility with similar high tech employers. The fallacy in this approach is that there really aren't other comparable employers; the nuclear security mission is a fundamental difference. These jobs require US citizenship and the ability to obtain and maintain a security clearance, and the specific skills needed are unique to defense programs. Furthermore, the environment in which the Labs work imposes additional restrictions on publishing and collaboration. Thus, the talent pool is significantly smaller that that available to Boeing or Schlumberger or Google. If the Labs only offer comparable employment to other companies, where is the incentive to the next generation of best and brightest? And why should the current staff stay?

How things change: last February, Vice President Biden announced the need to put more money into the Laboratories to cover just such issues as I've raised above in order to ensure future confidence in the Nuclear Posture Review. Now, Secretary Chu announces a salary freeze which exacerbates all the issues the Vice President raised.

Perhaps the administration could convince the mortgage companies, PG&E, the oil industry, food industry, etc, to all agree to a two-year price freeze.

Anonymous said...

To make things worse, we at llnl will start contributing to the pension now. In effect, you will need a raise to compensate for a pay cut.

Anonymous said...

Sandia executive management are not affected by this pay freeze as they are employees of Lockheed Martin.

From Paul Hommert: We are still working to understand the specific impact of this salary freeze on Sandia. Clearly the compensation notices that you have just received will be revised. At this point, it is our intent to redistribute non-base funds at the Laboratory level after the New Year. We are working the details of how we will accommodate this directive as quickly as possible. You should expect more information early next week.

I want to assure you of my commitment to maintain a workforce necessary to accomplish our mission. Several principles are embedded in maintaining our premier workforce while bringing exceptional work together with people who feel intellectually challenged and respected. One of those principles is that it is essential that our salary position remains effectively referenced to market."


Anonymous said...

DOE saves no money at LLNL because of a pay freeze. The budget is the budget--a pay freeze simply means that less money goes to emloyees and more goes to DOE programmatic work.

I do not intend to be a doormat for DOE. If they are going to pay me x% less by taking away my pay raise, then I am going to work x% less. No more 10 hour days or saving my sick leave.

Anonymous said...

Dear Secretary Chu:

Hopefully you and your freeze will be gone in less than 2 years.

Anonymous said...

All I wanted was to keep even, now we start contributing to the pension and my medical insurance contribution is going up $276 per month. The best and the brightest will not come to such a place. The DOE doesn't get it, but I guess that shouldn't surprise anyone.

Anonymous said...

Yes, it sucks.

On the other hand, we're all still employed, and nobody has asked us to take leave without pay like others around us, especially those working for the state of CA.

Always look on the bright side of life... (whistling)

Anonymous said...

"The best and the brightest will not come to such a place."

The best and the brightest have not come to the Lab for some time. We have been populating our ranks with scientists from second-rate schools and bureaucratic safety weenies who feed on overhead.

I really feel sorry for those of you who never knew the days before IWSs and Asssurance Offices.

Anonymous said...

Since the money from Department of Energy has already been allocated and given to the National Labs for raises, I'd REALLY like to know where that money is going and what it will be used for since the hard working LAB employees won't be geting it due to the pay freeze thanks to Steven Chu.
Chu, did you think about how the pay freeze you foolishy implemented would effect lab employees and the rising cost of living?
I don't think so.
Do you care?
I don't think so.

Anonymous said...

Steven Chu has screwed Lab employees.


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