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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Miller's all hands

Poor Miller; he knows we don't believe him but he is still trying. In private, he probably
hates Chu's decision. Well, we know LLNS does not challenge anything unless their fee is at stake.
Don't you just admire the person that asked the first question? The one who wondered that if we are the most important asset for DOE, then why are we being punished?
Wow, the savings from the freeze are about 12M/year. That is what all the brouhaha is all about. The money stays at the Lab and will be used for the "mission", which right now, is... you guessed it: NIF!

Your opinion?


Anonymous said...

I don't think George was making any representation that he liked the freeze. I imagine he'd rather see people get raises and instead this just makes life more difficult for all concerned. Yet a director has to be diplomatic after the Secretary makes his best and final offer.

Anonymous said...

I hope Dr. Chu enjoyed his fabulous state dinner last night, where he sat at the head table with both Obama and visiting Chinese President Hu. They dined on steaks & lobsters downed with fine $200 bottles of wine according to the news.

Meanwhile, back here at the "valued" NNSA labs, the non-management staff will have to downsize their food budgets due to the pension contributions from salaries, sky-rocketing health care premiums and multi-year wage freeze mandated by Dr. Chu.

For all of us "valued" scientists under the special DOE contractor freeze mandate, a bottle of cheap "Two Buck Chuck" wine will have to do!

Anonymous said...

I don't think the count he mentioned of 150 people the lab expects to lose would include the number of people that may leave due to the salary freeze. Their replacements will probably come in at lower salaries so maybe Chu calculated that into the equation.

As has been pointed out, the 12 million dollars will still be given to the lab so the budget did not save anything - this year. Will Chu take that into account next year and ask for 12 million less in the following year?

Anonymous said...

Obama spent more in 10 hours on his vacation to Hawaii, or was it Florida, or maybe it was Martha's Vineyard, or ...

Anonymous said...

Miller made it clear he wasn't happy with the salary freeze, and was worried about the consequences. I was glad to hear that. Not that it makes any difference when the Secretary is disregarding all sense and logic, but it's nice that the Director is fighting for us.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad he is really not in it for the money but for the public service--he's only earning $1 million per year (three times what any previous Lab Director made) while double dipping; I admire the "shared sacrifice." Same for the LLNS partners who, last time I checked, are "for profit." It's ok for him, or the overpaid people in 111 to earn a large salary; just spare us the sanctimonious lecture.

Anonymous said...

it's nice that the Director is fighting for us.

January 21, 2011 9:40 AM

So "not being happy" and being "worried" and giving a vague, inconclusive, non-committal speech is "fighting"?? Maybe actually publicly challenging Chu would be "attempted murder"? Or resigning in protest would be "outright massacre"? Get a clue. No one sane bites the hand that feeds them (well). Your precious little glass world is about to be shattered.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure Miller will also feel very bad when he follows DOE/NNSA wishes and ends the TCP1 pension and gets rid of our retirement medical benefits.

It's only a matter of time. DOE/NNSA hit SNL last year to drastically downsize their pension and benefits. It's probably LLNL's and LANL's turn next.

Anonymous said...

I would be worried too, if my performance bonus was dependent on the future effort of people who just performed wonders and were stiffed.

I sure am glad I don't work in NIF, those poor souls were really shafted.

Fortunately, my performance no longer matters.

Anonymous said...

Get used to it. Lab work is not valued.

DOE has been pushing every way of reducing your compensation since 2007.

Figure a yearly 5% cost of living loss until you depart.

Can you honestly recruit into this environment without disclosing this?

Anonymous said...

Does lying depress or invigorate a scientist?

Anonymous said...

I heard snoring in an office today.

Anonymous said...

You guys at Livermore should give your Lab Director "George" some real credit for having the courage and fortitude to actually speak to you (in person) following the DOE salary freeze. We (LANL) are still waiting for Anastasio to meet with us to explain the salary freeze to us and formally announce his "retirement" to us, you know, in person. I suspect we'll never hear from Anastasio again. I was also very disappointed that Anastasio is not going to participate in the Chu/Obama "shared sacrifice" with us the next two years.

Anonymous said...

"I sure am glad I don't work in NIF, those poor souls were really shafted." -- I'd have to agree with this statement. NIF employees do in fact give their best everyday to see the mission is accomplished and they do it very well. The simple fact is NIF only keeps those who actally work well beyond what is expected and yet they have to go down with the rest of the ship. This is really sad.

Anonymous said...

"I heard snoring in an office today.."

Sorry, it was me. Didn't think anyone would notice.

Anonymous said...

Chu's popped his cork.

The best possible use of $12M is to give it to the people who worked so hard last year so they will do it again next year.

Anonymous said...

You are right.

It is the 1% of the budget that assures the other 99% gets done right.

Anonymous said...

As bad as it has become at the NNSA labs, it is about to become much worse. Newt Ginrich and the GOP are proposing a ** 5 YEAR SALARY FREEZE ** for all government workers.

While this freeze would not effect most government contractors, like those for DoD and DHS, you can bet that the DOE's claim of "special relationship" with their contractors would allow them to cap our lab salaries under this long term freeze.

Assuming the GOP takes over the Presidency in 2012 and holds onto Congress, you could see this 5 year wage freeze take effect starting around fiscal year 2014, just as we leave the current 2 year wage freeze mandated by Dr. Chu.

No raises at the labs until 2018 is what you will be looking at if this occurs. Given a moderate inflation scenario, this mean many employees will be moving toward poverty wages and the future worth of your TCP1 pension will be largely destroyed, worth a fraction of what it would have been. It should be interesting to see how the DOE keeps the "best and the brightness" onboard at the weapon labs with this dismal outlook.

As ugly has it has become at the NNSA labs, the future holds the strong possibility of much, much more pain for the staff at these labs. Prepare as best you can.

Anonymous said...

** Lawmakers propose five-year pay freeze, federal job cuts **

Government Exec News

By Emily - January 20, 2011

Republican lawmakers are seeking a five-year federal pay freeze and additional workforce cuts in an effort to rein in spending.

The 2011 Spending Reduction Act, unveiled on Thursday by Republican Study Committee Chairman Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio; Rep. Scott Garrett, R-N.J.; and Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C.; outlines $2.5 trillion in cuts by dropping current spending to fiscal 2008 levels and freezing budgets at fiscal 2006 levels for 10 years beginning Oct. 1. The legislation, which will be introduced officially on Monday, would reduce the size and cost of the federal civilian workforce and cut a number of federal programs.

The proposal includes provisions to eliminate automatic pay increases for civilian employees for five years, cut the workforce by 15 percent through attrition and hire one new worker for every two who leave. The legislation also would collect unpaid taxes from federal workers, prohibit employees from conducting union business while on the job and cut the federal travel budget in half.

Anonymous said...

We at the DOE and NNSA labs are not the ones that approved "any idiot" that can make the first three payments of their home mortgage with no (or limited) money down.

Anonymous said...

This reduction is just one hair on the financial US head being trimmed. This country is in dire straights, and we are going down the tubes exponentially! The elephant in the room is that NONE of us may be employed in a couple of years the way this economy is going. This nation is WAY BEYOND broke! If the average Joe knew how desperate the situation REALLY is, there would be wide spread panic. Count your blessings, store up food, and strap in for a rough ride. If your biggest concern is about your "raise", you've got a hash dose of reality at the sign post up ahead.

thief said...

We at the DOE and NNSA labs are not the ones that approved "any idiot" that can make the first three payments of their home mortgage with no (or limited) money down.

Nope! You aren't! You and your fellow workers don't shovel multimillions at congress and those who aspire to the executive either. I would get used to the trend if I were raise in an environment of increasing inflation (assuming that the banks start lending again) is how your salary will be reduced.

Lets be honest, except in those most esoteric of disciplines, a huge swath of lab employees (across the complex, not just LLNL and LANL) are paid in excess of what these jobs would command on the outside. Remember, it's why you wanted to work here in the first place.

You can make the argument that the overall compensation level is high due to the nuisance factor of having to deal with the stupidity of most DOE argument that I have often made.....but these same requirements reduce the actual productive work that occurs and the compensation will now reflect this in a more direct fashion. In this environment raises shouldn't be your most immediate concern...that you remain employed until you can retire or find something better should.

Until someone can gin up another arms race expect no changes.

Anonymous said...

To give some perspective on real income loss under high inflation, let's apply the "Rule of 70" and do a rough calculation.

Let's assume a true inflation rate for your basic necessities like education, medical expenses, shelter, food and energy runs at 7%. Note that the rates that the government officially uses for their calculations take out energy and food, so it doesn't accurately track the true rate for most people.

Compounding with 7% inflation, you would see:

70/7 = 10 yrs to the "halving point"

So if you live with an inflation rate at 7% for 10 years and no wage increases, your standard of living would be cut in half.

The "halving point", of course, gets much shorter as the inflation rate gets higher.

High inflation will almost assuredly be the means that our bankrupt government uses to get out from under the enormous debts and the huge future liabilities for entitlements that are owed to the public. It can cut entitlements without the need to enact controversial policy changes which the politicians all dread. It will also offer a convenient means for public institutions and corporations to avoid a large portion of the huge pensions liabilities they have hanging over their heads.

In a "wage freeze/high inflation" scenario you would want to be in a 401k with a healthy employer match (i.e., TCP2) and own stocks in assets that can ride out any inflation surge.

Being dependent on a pension in a "wage freeze/high inflation" environment is the worst possible place to be in terms of your future retirement. Your dreams of a nice "golden retirement" would quickly turn into a "lead retirement" in only a few years time.

Anonymous said...

January 23, 2011 8:29 PM,

You fail to note that there is no guarantee of an employer match 401k. An employee could end its matching at any time, leaving the employee as the sole contributor to their retirement.

Its probably easier for a company to end its 401k matching than default on a pension plan (especially if its a closed plan).

Anonymous said...

High inflation will almost assuredly be the means that our bankrupt government uses to get out from under the enormous debts and the huge future liabilities for entitlements

January 23, 2011 8:29 PM

Yeah, your words "almost assuredly" reveal the speculative, inflammatory, unsupported, and self-promoting aspects of your "argument". Your "analysis" is self-serving and not connected to any professional opinion about the current status of government pensions that I have heard or read. Care to provide any peer-reviewed support?

Anonymous said...

There is a severe crisis coming in this country that the majority suffer normalcy bias to.

Anonymous said...

Your "analysis" is self-serving and not connected to any professional opinion about the current status of government pensions that I have heard or read. - 10:39 pm

You don't have a "government pension" if you work for the NNSA labs, 10:39pm. It's a private world corporate pension. Get a clue.

And as far as government pensions being at risk, go read the news. The Congress just last week began discussion on ways of letting the states declare bankruptcy so they can off-load their crushing pension liabilities. You do read the news, don't you?

Anonymous said...

You don't have a "government pension" if you work for the NNSA labs, 10:39pm. It's a private world corporate pension. Get a clue.

January 24, 2011 10:43 AM

Uh, where did the money in the pension fund come from?

Anonymous said...

Uh, where did the money in the pension fund come from? ( 12:17 PM )

Where does the money for the Raytheon and Boeing pensions come from? It comes mostly from the money they make off of defense contracts. That does NOT make them "government pensions". My God, you're dense! I hope you are not an example of the people left working at the NNSA labs.

Anonymous said...

The money in the LANL and LLNL TCP1 pension funds came directly from UC at the contract transitions. Before that, it came directly from DOE. What the hell does Raytheon and Boeing have to do with it? Who's dense?

Anonymous said...

Actually, a larger and larger portion of the TCP1 pension assets are coming straight our of the lab employees' salary. At LANL, it will soon be 8% per year (pre-tax) and the employee contribution rate is growing rapidly.


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