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This BLOG is for LLNL present and past employees, friends of LLNL and anyone impacted by the privatization of the Lab to express their opinions and expose the waste, wrongdoing and any kind of injustice against employees and taxpayers by LLNS/DOE/NNSA. The opinions stated are personal opinions. Therefore, The BLOG author may or may not agree with them before making the decision to post them. Comments not conforming to BLOG rules are deleted. Blog author serves as a moderator. For new topics or suggestions, email jlscoob5@gmail.com

Monday, January 23, 2012

Rally against Bechtel-Run Weapons Lab

MEDIA ADVISORY from Justiceinmedia@yahoo.com
January 23, 2012

More than One Hundred Laid-Off Lawrence Livermore Employees to Rally against Bechtel-Run Weapons Lab as Trial Date Nears

Contact: Gary Gwilliam, ggwilliam@giccb.com or (510) 832-5411
Deborah Colaianni, dcolaianni@justiceinmedia.com or (202) 679-2652

WHAT: A rally of 130 former employees of Lawrence Livermore National Security (LLNS), who were fired in the wake of the laboratory’s transition from public to private control. The former employees, all plaintiffs in individual lawsuits against LLNS, will discuss strategy and developments as the first of their lawsuits nears trial.

WHO: The five plaintiffs in the first trial will hold a news conference prior to the group meeting. They will discuss their claims against LLNS, ranging from wrongful termination to age, race and disability discrimination. Their consolidated lawsuits are scheduled for trial on February 6, 2012.

Lead Counsel Gary Gwilliam will also be available to media to explain how privatization of the lab led to the discriminatory and unlawful layoffs.

Media will have access to all former employees who attend the 6 p.m. group meeting immediately following the news conference.

WHEN: 5:15 p.m., Thursday, January 26, 2012

WHERE: Robert Livermore Community Center, 4444 East Avenue, Livermore CA 94550

====================================================================
THE BACKGROUND

NUCLEAR WEAPONS LAB PRIVATIZED
Founded in Livermore, Calif., in the early 1950s, under the auspices of the University of California, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory was one of the United States’ flagship nuclear weapons labs.

Even after the Cold War ended, the federal government remained interested in the lab’s science and paid to keep it running.

In 2006, the Bush administration’s Department of Energy solicited bids from private contractors to assume control of Livermore. The purpose, the government said, was to transition the lab “to industrial standards and capitalize on private sector expertise.”

Two years later, the DOE awarded the contract to Lawrence Livermore National Security LLC, (LLNS), a private partnership led by Bechtel Corp., the multinational engineering company based in San Francisco. In exchange for millions in management fees, Bechtel promised to improve efficiency at Livermore.

The lab also continued to receive taxpayer dollars—upwards of $1 billion annually.

PROMISES ASIDE, AFTER PRIVATIZATION, 440 EMPLOYEES LAID OFF
When LLNS took over, the lab employed around 7,000 people. Nearly all were longtime University of California employees. In 30 years, there hadn’t been a single layoff at Livermore.

As part of the takeover, LLNS agreed to hire all existing workers, who were assured they would not be terminated without reasonable cause.

But within months of LLNS taking control, 440 permanent employees were let go. Most had been with Livermore for many years and were over the age of 40.

For example, Marian Barraza – one of the first five plaintiffs to go to trial -- had worked at Lawrence Livermore for 38 years. A purchasing specialist, Ms. Barraza was one of only two career employees in her unit. Both were laid off in May 2008 while a younger employee with fewer than two years of seniority was kept on.

Despite their long tenure and proven loyalty, the 440 employees – from administrative assistants to nuclear scientists – were escorted off the LLNS grounds by security personnel.

MORE THAN 130 EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION SUITS FILED
Following the layoffs, many of the ex-employees began considering litigation. Ultimately, 130 former employees of Livermore filed individual complaints with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, the agency charged with enforcing the state’s anti-discrimination laws.

In May 2009, Gwilliam, Ivary, Chiosso, Cavalli & Brewer, an Oakland-based law firm, filed suit against LLNS in Alameda County Superior Court, representing 130 of the wrongfully terminated employees.

Many of the 130 are still searching for jobs in a strained economy. Some have lost their homes and health; others have filed for bankruptcy.

All 130 cases have been consolidated for trial. (This is NOT a class action.)

INDUSTRY EXPERT QUESTIONS MOTIVATION FOR LAYOFFS
LLNS argued that a $280 million budget shortfall necessitated the layoffs, but based on the review of Dr. Robert Civiak, an independent consultant who specializes in budget and policy issues related to nuclear weapons, LLNS had sufficient funds to avoid any layoffs. Dr. Civiak says LLNS’s claim of a $280 million shortfall was fabricated to get increased funding from the Bush administration.

He is expected to testify on behalf of the plaintiffs at trial.

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

"LLNS had sufficient funds to avoid any layoffs"

You have to remember that after the transition there was not just a fee to pay but a large number of managers suddenly got huge salaries, numerous new levels of managers where created, new Bechtel employees where brought in that where not paid by the fee but from LLNS. This is a very large sum of money, so layoffs had to be done.

For all this extra money what did we get? Have any efficiencies been added? It seems like the exact opposite has happened, things are
less transparent, there is now less accountability, everything is slower and way more inefficient. What was maximized was the ability of LLNS to get the most money out with as little effort as possible.

Anonymous said...

The first question I would ask LLNS in front of the jury is why not a single "management" level position was identified for layoff? I left the Lab in 2008 shortly after the transition, but prior to leaving had an opportunity to observe the process where personnel were selected for "reduction". It was very personal and subjective.

Anonymous said...

"first question I would ask LLNS"

Also... don't forget, lot's of Bechtel staff came on board, resulting in massive re-org in Oct-2007. Typically, a new head (division,dept,or directorate)re-org to setup his staff, and re-draw the org chart ... to keep/discard certain favorites/unfavorites.

Anonymous said...

The amazing thing is that LANS avoided a layoff. Shows how much money was squirreled away on the mesa.

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous Anonymous said...

The amazing thing is that LANS avoided a layoff. Shows how much money was squirreled away on the mesa.

January 24, 2012 9:32 PM"

I have always heard that LLNL had much worse managers than LANL so maybe this is the reason?

Anonymous said...

I have always heard that LLNL had much worse managers than LANL so maybe this is the reason?

January 24, 2012 9:48 PM

I wouldn't go that far. That's one thing that LANS "far exceeds" LLNS is the number of poor quality, self serving, and corrupt managers.

Incidentally, while LANS has not yet RIFed workers in a massive layoff, most, if not all of "unwanted" job transfers from good paying and prestigious jobs in the Weapons Program to the "crappy" low paying and undesirable facility jobs were protected-class workers, over 45-years old. Bret Knapp in particular has a very clear pattern to get rid of workers older than 50-years old, especially if they are minorities.

Anonymous said...

If anyone questions the motivation of LANS/LLNS to recruit and retain younger workers, Charlie McMillan, announced "in writing" that Summer Employee programs will be "spared" from any budget cuts.

Secondly, the only jobs being advertised at LANS are Post-docs. LANS has no regard for the "old-folks".

While I have nothing against young workers since I was young a long time ago, the pattern to disregard the rights of "aged" workers has been established at LANS.

Anonymous said...

Bechtel, I hope they kick your ass.

Anonymous said...

The labs have a long and sordid history of age discrimination. However, don't expect any revelations proven in court to stop them from doing it again and again.

They'll continue their policies until they finally have huge legal fines thrown at them that must come directly out of their annual profit fees and not from DOE.

Anonymous said...

During the big LLNL layoff, they shut off many of the lights in the hallways and turned off most of our buildings ac/air flow. They said it was because they were out of money.

Anonymous said...

For you folks suing LLNS for discrimination, I'm sure you are aware of "prima face discrimination"? The numbers can demonstrate age discrimination. It really appears LLNS "screwed-up" when you look at the shear number of workers over 40-years old that were RIFed. Hopefully, you guys will be awarded the LLNS (and LANS fee) and then some.

Anonymous said...

I'll never forget the day Knapp and Leasure forced me to leave my job in the Weapons Programs, I saw them having lunch with college interviewees in the cafeteria that very same day. They were my replacements. These Senior Managers give preference to college recruits over experience and knowledge all the time, unless you're a Senior Manager from Bechtel.

Anonymous said...

During the big LLNL layoff, they shut off many of the lights in the hallways and turned off most of our buildings ac/air flow. They said it was because they were out of money.

January 25, 2012 9:38 PM

Actually I heard it was due to the power drain of a NIF shot. The lights dim in the Bay Area when NIF is fired and not 1 milliwatt is generated for electricity.

Anonymous said...

You guys suing LLNS for RIFs based on the fact that LLNS had adequate funding are on a very slippery slope. Be aware that Sieg Hecker proceeded with a RIF to lower overhead costs. He had adequate funding, in fact Domenici was quoted as telling Hecker "I gave you enough money, why are you laying off my people"! The whole case went to court and the plaintiffs lost the case. Your best bet is to hit LLNS with "prima facie" age discrimination. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

The first question I would ask LLNS in front of the jury is why not a single "management" level position was identified for layoff?

January 24, 2012 2:17 PM

Bingo, "In front of a jury". That was the key issue in the Sieg Hecker RIF. The jury had no sympathy for scientists and engineers that were making $160,000 per year or the secretaries and technicians who were making $80,000 that were laid off. The jury that was selected consisted of folks working at McDonalds that flipped burgers and janitors who cleaned bathrooms. I would highly recommend the LLNS plaintiffs research this famous Hecker RIF, you'll need it to fight Bechtel because they will use the best and most expensive lawyers in the U.S. to fight you. No expenses or tactics will be spared.

Anonymous said...

you'll need it to fight Bechtel because they will use the best and most expensive lawyers in the U.S. to fight you. No expenses or tactics will be spared.

January 28, 2012 3:19 AM

Yep! LANS/LLNS/DOE/NNSA boasts about how they hire the best and brightest engineers and physicists at the National Labs and then uses the best and brightest (and most expensive!) lawyers to fight them in court as an expression of appreciation for serving their country. This is exactly how it has been for decades at LLNS/LANS and into the distant future.

Anonymous said...

This is exactly how it has been for decades at LLNS/LANS and into the distant future.

January 28, 2012 5:48 PM

Huh? Decades?? Do you not realize LANS took over the LANL contract in 2006? And that LANS did not exist as an entity prior to that? How is 6 years "decades"?? Wow, put down the crack pipe.

Anonymous said...

Huh? Decades?? Do you not realize LANS took over the LANL contract in 2006? And that LANS did not exist as an entity prior to that? How is 6 years "decades"?? Wow, put down the crack pipe.

January 28, 2012 9:41 PM

Don't remind us. It seems like decades.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure he meant llnl, no need to be that picky. I worked at LLNL many years and saw a case where a person had a disability and was told to leave because of it. They were given the choice that they could leave on their own (resign) or they would be fired. Continuing to do their job, and well, was not an option.

Anonymous said...

Any update on how the trial is going that started yesterday 6th? God's speed to the plaintiffs.

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