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, firstname.lastname@example.org or (510) 832-5411
Deborah Colaianni, email@example.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
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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