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Friday, March 16, 2012

DOE approves pension plan contributions

Anonymoulsy contributed:

From LLNL Newsline

DOE approves pension plan contributions
03/15/2012

The Department of Energy has approved the request to initiate employer contributions to the LLNS Defined Benefits Plan, or TCP1.

DOE has approved employer pension contributions of $20 million for fiscal year 2012. Employee contributions will begin in approximately early June at 5 percent of pay. Employee contributions apply to only those employees who selected TCP1.

An implementation committee has been formed and is working out the details; more information will be provided in future editions of Newsline.

100 comments:

Anonymous said...

Read it and weep Livermore, read it and weep....

Anonymous said...

Parney used his fine-tuned Washington skills and wing-tipped shoes to force his highly-valued TCP-1 employees pay for their pension. He's been working this angle full-time since he became Director. Bet on another +5% by next year. It's all about "squeezing" people out of the Livermore payroll and onto the pension as quickly as possible.

Anonymous said...

Parney used his fine-tuned Washington skills and wing-tipped shoes to force his highly-valued TCP-1 employees pay for their pension. He's been working this angle full-time since he became Director. Bet on another +5% by next year. It's all about "squeezing" people out of the Livermore payroll and onto the pension as quickly as possible.

That's not even stupid. The longer people in TCP-1 stay employed at the lab, the longer they will contribute and the retirement fund will stay solvent.

Anonymous said...

They appear to be syncing contributions w/UC, which implies 6.5% next year for LLNL employees.

Of course, on the employer side, UC is contributing 12%...whereas LLNS (based on the $20m figure quoted) is contributing 5% (or less) this year.

Bottom line: it's a 5% pay cut on top of multiple successive years of zero raises (i.e. nothing going to HAPC in pension).

More of the quality staff will leave (because they can), more deadwood will stay.

The death spiral of LLNL continues...

Anonymous said...

LANL TCP-1 has been taking money for pensions for several years now. In April, it goes up another 2%...to 6% for employees below the SS wage base, and 8% for income above the wage base. That's off the top, AFTER TAXES.

Add to that increases than fail to even come close to the inflation rate, and we've been taking an after-inflation pay cut for years at LANL.

Welcome to the club LLNL. You too now get to take how less buying power every year you work.

But don't worry, we're all told how valuable and crucial we are. The proof is in the pay.

Anonymous said...

That's not even stupid. The longer people in TCP-1 stay employed at the lab, the longer they will contribute and the retirement fund will stay solvent.

March 16, 2012 1:59 PM

No that's not stupid, stupid. The priority for LANS/LLNS Senior Management is to get you off the payroll as soon as possible. Hello, there's currently a $300M problem at LANS. They could care less about keeping the TCP-1 pension solvent, that's your problem not theirs.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations LLNL TCP-1 employees, welcome to the "Pay For Your Pension Program (PFYPP)".

Anonymous said...

In 4 years LLNS has taken a pension fund that was 240% funded and made it about even. Considering the years LLNS has left on its contract, the future looks bleak.

How could a company that so creatively finances NIF do so poorly with our pension fund?

Anonymous said...

This is quite a scam. Another giant DOE lie actually.

The only reason contributions are required is that, as Parney recently presented, the ERISA discount rate is pegged to the investment grade long term corporate bond return, currently due to the Fed's stimuation and twist policies, is artificially low. A 4.9% discount rate makes the present value of the liabilities cash flow approximately 20% more than a more reasonable and likely 6% rate.

So you are being asked to contribute again, that's a good thing right. NOT IF THE PENSION IS OVERFUNDED. AT THE END OF THE FUND, THE REMAINING FUNDS GO BACK TO THE GOVERNMENT. SO ANY EXCESS YOU CONTRIBUTE GOES TO DOE.

If as I suspect, the LLNL pension fund is already fully financed, using a realistic expected market return rather than the conservative ERISA method then your contribution is not necessary and you have been scammed. For your contribution will not be returned to you.


Aiheee!

Anonymous said...

Yep. And when the FED stops the current stimulation and the twist and lets long-term rates rise so that the long term investment grade corporate bond rate rises again and therefore the discount rate increases the the present value of the liabilities cash flow drops, then, the LLNL pension will magically show a 110%-120% funding level. BUT YOUR CONTRIBUTIONS WILL CONTINUE, EVEN THOUGH THE GOVERNMENTS WILL STOP SINCE IT NEED NOT CONTRIBUTE TO AN OVERFUNDED PLAN.

I AM NOT SURE PARNEY IS SMART ENOUGH TO KNOW THIS, BUT IT LOOKS LIKE DC SCREWS LLNL EMPLOYEES TO THE TUNE OF 5% AGAIN.

WOW!

Anonymous said...

"They appear to be syncing contributions w/UC, which implies 6.5% next year for LLNL employees.

Of course, on the employer side, UC is contributing 12%...whereas LLNS (based on the $20m figure quoted) is contributing 5% (or less) this year."

This is inappropriate, they have completely different pension requirements. Different levels of funding, open vs. closed.

IF PARNEY IS JUST MATCHING SOMETHING CALLED A PENSION WITHOUT A SAVVY ADVISOR, HE IS A FOOL.

Anonymous said...

This is the worst thing to happen to LLNL since the blunder of the transition.

Really a giant blunder. You must pay 5% non-refundable now, for an interest long in the future of something that is likely not needed.

And the government gets the left-overs.

Really poor employee stewardship. I hope he can manage the stockpile better or we should really fear the future.

Anonymous said...

As a recent retiree, my personal interest is that the pension remain sound, so that I should welcome the resumption of LLNS contributions.

But, as a savvy financial person and a friend of many current oldsters, I think the 5% permanent contribution is an unnecessary miscalculation.

I'll bet Lynn Soderstrom is involved. This is not well thought through.

Anonymous said...

LLNL really needs a union. Not for the collective bargaining, just for someone in the crowd who can THINK, can see LONG TERM UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES, and who will should "STOP" or "DANGER", so the blundering leaders will look a little less foolish.

WHAT A TEAM OF BOOBS.

Anonymous said...

iF 3000 employees, averaging 100k per year, pay $5000 each, that is $15M, the goverment is only paying $20M, this is not the old ratio of appoximately 20% employee contribution, but rather almost 1/2.

ANOTHER SIGNIFICANT CHANGE?

Anonymous said...

Note the the most recent comments may or may not apply to LANL's pension, since when markets normalize it may still need contributions.

Anonymous said...

Based upon the benefits summary statement mailed in last fall, the Lab has already been paying an amount about 25% of gross salary into the pension fund. So no fun paying 5% of salary ourselves, but it is not like we are suddenly 'paying for the pension' either.

Anonymous said...

iF 3000 employees, averaging 100k per year, pay $5000 each, that is $15M, the goverment is only paying $20M, this is not the old ratio of appoximately 20% employee contribution, but rather almost 1/2.

ANOTHER SIGNIFICANT CHANGE?

Exact math I was doing above. I'm betting LLNL TCP1 avg salary is in the 120k's and we're paying half and they're paying half. Unlike UC where it's being divided 1/3 employee, 2/3 employer.

Anonymous said...

For a clear picture of this, use the graph that Parney provided posted by a thoughtful blogger earlier, and plot a line on the liabilities an average rate of increase from 2005 -2011.

Note also in earlier periods the liabilities did drop as the discount rate increased.

Note also that the Fund has seen a 6-8% increase in assets since Jan 12. They should continue at an averate 5% to 8% rate over the long term, with year to year variability of perhaps +/- 10%.

Is short, while resuming your contributions is conservative, it is likely unnecessary and is more likely to become another 5% PERMANENT INCOME TAX by the government.

So O'bama blunders just like a Bush.

Anonymous said...

Also, I'd be happy to contribute 5% (or even 10%)if it gave us all peace of mind about solvency and I thought that any excess would be used wisely and for the benefit of employees. (i.e. fund healthcare benefits, bigger COLAs during hyper-inflation, etc.)

But the current leadership crowd doesn't give me any faith...

Also, if there was openness. What is this money invested in? Who's investing it? We don't know (could be in Bechtel stock and Bechtel bonds). How about making *our* pension fund transparent and putting employees on the board.

Until then, no way. Gonna have to vote the only logical way...with my feet...

Anonymous said...

the goverment is only paying $20M,

I believe he $20M is an amount DOE is authorizing the Lab to pay as an *added* contribution toward bolstering the fund. It is on top of the per-person, salary-dependent contribution that has always been happening.

Anonymous said...

So O'bama blunders just like a Bush.

Yes I'm sure the President was consulted on this weighty decision by NNSA.

Anonymous said...

"...the (LLNL?) Lab has already been paying an amount about 25% of gross salary into the pension fund....

Please cite the specifics of this source.

Not to be argumentative, but no new contributions have been made to LLNS TCP-1 since LLNS founded it with transferred UCRS funds. It has a surplus.

Your reference must be referring to the LLNS matching 401k contributions for those not in TCP-1. Even this seems way too high.

IF someone put 25% of your salary into any pension plan each year, it would be wayyyyyy too much to cover the likely liabilities, even for safety workers. Long-term 14-15% should do it, for a very good pension --- but not for medical.

Anonymous said...

I believe the $20M is an amount DOE is authorizing the Lab to pay as an *added* contribution toward bolstering the fund. It is on top of the per-person, salary-dependent contribution that has always been happening.

Absolutely incorrect. No one, employee or employer, has paid into pension since transition to LLNS (for sure, we have the yearly reports) and if I recall correctly, since the early 1990s -- remember we were so overfunded back then they were tossing us 7-8% CAPS and putting our contributions into DCP instead of the pension and worrying about the state going after our immense surplus.

Anonymous said...

Q: Why are these pension contribution not taken out PRE-tax??? (per LANL poster above) At UC they are.

Is that a function of LLNS being a private vs public entity?

Or is it a choice made by LLNS?

Anonymous said...

Wow, this news has you guys from Livermore "stirred up". Just wait until LLNS has a VRP and has "excluded" workers.

Anonymous said...

There is another subtle screwing that you TCP-1 folks will get. The CPI is now calculated much differently than when the funds were established. It is much lower, since substituted goods, and short-term effects are now "managed" whereas when the UCRS was established, the old CPI was higher.

The overestimate of the OLD CPI was well known and was the reason for the gradual adjustment of the UCRS increases based on the CPI.

BUT LLNS and LANS use the "managed" CPI so that the adjustment is done twice!

An example, currently the Feb11-Feb12 managed CPI was 2.9%. This yields a 2% TCP-1 COLA on July12. But under the OLD CPI, the the GDP deflator before adjustments is more like 9% (look at your gas, food and clothihg costs). This would yield a 4.5% COLA.

Buy using the adjusted CPI and still adjusting the COLA for the OLD CPI, you get 2.5% less.

An error that is compounded each year. Just goes to show you can't trust city hall unless they are in your pocket.

Another Illinois tradition.

Anonymous said...

"...Just wait until LLNS has a VRP and has "excluded" workers..."

Since 1990, LLNL has had three incentivized separation programs that I can recall, all with some excluded classifications.

If you work with your supervision, you might be able to get yourself reclassed into an non-excluded classificaiton. LLNL division leaders, facing upcoming layoffs, in the past were sometimes amenable to a trade. Some long-serving person who wants to go for someone much more vulnerable they wanted to keep.

They get to avoid a very unpleasant personal experience of releasing a new hire and someone else pays the bonus. YOu can see the supervisors incentive to reclassify.

Volunteer.

Anonymous said...

Not at LANS. Excluded workers are required to remain in their positions for at least 9-months. This is all academic since there are no job postings at LANS. Everything is FROZEN at LANS except TCP-1 pension contribution increases, new Senior Managers being added to the payroll, and Senior Management bonuses.

Anonymous said...

What we are seeing here folks is an organization (LLNS/LANS) where the workers have absolutely NO rights, input, or appeal on ANY decisions. How long are we going to continue to accept this?

Anonymous said...

Why all the whining?

I don't have TCP-1, but I do understand that a 5% contribution is a significant hit. However, this isn't some scam. Pension liabilities are required to be calculated a given way by law. I agree that the calculation method is overly conservative, particularly in the current financial climate, but neither LLNS nor DOE wrote the law. They simply have to follow it.

I think Parney was very up front and honest on this point, as Miller was before him. What it shows is a commitment to maintain the pension, for which those partaking of it should be grateful. And when interest rates turn, I think it likely participants will at least see a reduction in their contribution.

Anonymous said...

I'll make this very simple. Spend just 3 minutes and watch this short video from George Carlin. He explains it all very precisely.

BTW, if you work at LLNL or LANL, your "owners" are the Bechtel family. Wise up and take off those famous lab "shoes that grip"! Sheeple get slaughtered in the end.

--------------------------------------
THE GOVERNMENT WANTS YOUR RETIREMENT MONEY (YouTube - George Carlin)
--------------------------------------

www.youtube.com/watch?v=ALlzClE67os

Anonymous said...

Like most Americans, I am not happy to start paying for something that I use to get for free. However, lets look at modern realities. Guaranteed pensions in either the private or public sector work world are things of the past, especially those with no employee contributions. UC campus staff, and employees of the two other UC affiliated labs LBNL and LANL, have been contributing to their pension funds for several years now. I bet you could count on one hand the number of pension programs in this country that have zero mandatory employee contribution requirements.

So I'm planning on retiring from LLNL in 10 years and according to the calculations will be getting 80% of my salary as a pension for the rest of my life - paying 5% of my salary now to get an 80% return later, seems like a good investment.

Anonymous said...

So I'm planning on retiring from LLNL in 10 years and according to the calculations will be getting 80% of my salary as a pension for the rest of my life - paying 5% of my salary now to get an 80% return later, seems like a good investment.

March 17, 2012 8:14 AM

You dreaming buddy. There's a problem with your calculations. I wonder how long you will feel if your making a "good investment" when more than 15% or 20% of your salary going toward your pension. We have been informed at LANS that they expect to be adding 2% every year. There is no end in sight for this.

Anonymous said...

There is another subtle screwing that you TCP-1 folks will get. The CPI is now calculated much differently than when the funds were established.

This is not some conspiracy focused on TCP-1. The Social Security system went to a modified CPI awhile ago. Is that a 'quiet' way to limit future benefits without a vote of Congress and signature of President? Sure.

Old news.

Anonymous said...

if,
TCP1 is substantially equivalent.

and,
TCP2 is substantially equivalent.

then,
TCP1 and TCP2 should mirror each other in terms of total benefit.

These plans are no longer the same in total benefit.

Anonymous said...

As a recent retiree, my personal interest is that the pension remain sound, so that I should welcome the resumption of LLNS contributions.

But, as a savvy financial person and a friend of many current oldsters, I think the 5% permanent contribution is an unnecessary miscalculation.

I'll bet Lynn Soderstrom is involved. This is not well thought through.

This person is sadly misinformed. Lynn Soderstrom has nothing to do with the pension funding or the decision to implement employee contributions. This decision is made by LLNL Senior Management in consultation with the Plan's actuaries.

Anonymous said...

No one, employee or employer, has paid into pension since transition to LLNS (for sure, we have the yearly reports) and if I recall correctly, since the early 1990s

Thanks for that correction! I see the "Personal Benefits Statement" labels the column "LLNS Pays" but then has the description "This is the average cost LLNS is expected to incur during 2011 for your pension benefits." That does not imply any actual cash flow.

And as also observed, no one has been paying for the pension for years - all investment earnings by UCRP. Sweet deal. The music stopped, but hardly the slaughterhouse.

Anonymous said...

TCP1 and TCP2 should mirror each other in terms of total benefit.

These plans are no longer the same in total benefit.


False logic. No representation was ever made that TCP-1 and TCP-2 would be substantially equivalent to each other. TCP-1 was intended to be substantially equivalent to UCRP. Not evident that has changed.

Depending on what assumptions one was willing to make for one's personal circumstances, one could project TCP-1 or TCP-2 being an ultimate winner. Only time will tell. My hope is each person ends up happy with their choice.

Anonymous said...

Facts:

The primary reason the funded ratio has declined is to to the continued accrual of service credit and age credits. The liability segment of the calculation is based on the current liability, not the discounted value of the future liability. So when people in TCP-1 get older and accrue more service credit...voila!

The other major driver on the funded status is the low interest rates. WHen Bernanke says that he knows savers are hurt by the Fed's decision to hold interest rates down, he is talking to people in TCP-1.

Anonymous said...

Someone said: "Based upon the benefits summary statement mailed in last fall, the Lab has already been paying an amount about 25% of gross salary into the pension fund. So no fun paying 5% of salary ourselves, but it is not like we are suddenly 'paying for the pension' either."

That personal benefits statement was a bunch of HR spin. You have to learn to read a little more carefully. They didn't say they were *paying in* that amount, they said you were gaining that amount by working another year at LLNS in TCP1.

LLNS has been paying NOTHING IN, read the yearly pension summary and you'll see that clearly.

This isn't the old days, where UC rigged all the benefits up awesomely in our favor (because we were all in the same benefits boat), we're now in corporate land, where LLNS and upper mgmt are in completely different boats than us.

It is what it is. Keep your eyes open and be aware...they're doing what's to their benefit. That's how the game's set up now. To change player behavior, we're going to have to change the game. The players are irrelevant.

Anonymous said...

Oh don't worry TC-1 folks. Just behave like all the folks on the University of California pension. Don't worry, be happy, who cares about the $20 Billion deficit in the UC Pension, as long as the check is deposited.

Anonymous said...

The poor, deluded fellow who says he doesn't mind paying in 5% of his after-tax salary to the pension because he'll receive 80% of his salary for life in his retirement years is badly mistaken.

First, you'll soon be paying far more than just 5% of your salary into the TCP1 pension to keep it afloat. A figure of 15% is probably more like it and you'll see that within 5 years. The Feds notorious "zero interest rate policy" (ZIRP) is not going away any time soon and it is killing pensions on the fixed income side.

Second, you'll never get to the promised land of an 80% of salary payout. During the next 10 years -- those very special years when your accumulating age+service credit radically beef up the percentage payout -- you're going to face the shock of a TCP1 pension "freeze-out". It's probably coming within just a few more years and when it does, the amount of accumulation you will make in those final 5 to 8 years of work will be much, much less than you think.

LLNS and LANS are following the game plan of the privatized corporate world. It's a ruthless game played by the highly paid executives against their employees. The labs are about 8 years behind the curve on this game plan, but will catch up quickly. Most large corporations (IBM, Verizon, etc) have all frozen out their pensions to further service credit for the older employees still on their corporate pension system. Only the executives get the sweet pension deals at these companies today. Same will happen soon enough at both LLNL and LANL, just wait and see. I hope this fellow has some backup plans. He'll be lucky if he makes 50% of his salary when he retires 10 years from today.

Anonymous said...

This is a substantial discussion.

Thanks for providing the blog.

It is an open discussion whether employees need better transparency and better representation than the compromised vision of those who "manage" them under private leadership provide.

Time for a employee senate?

Anonymous said...

March 17, 2012 5:40 PM

Your is the worst kind of scare-mongering, full of "deluded" and "badly mistaken" warnings based on "probably", "probably coming", "probably more like it" and "much less than you think" arguments that are completely unsubstantiated with facts. Then you attempt to bolster this ridiculous, false argument with an anti-corporate screed that this all will "happen soon enough...just wait and see." Enough, Chicken Little. Naysayers and doomsayers have been around forever - you didn't invent it. Go crawl back under your rock until and unless you have some facts (or even understand the concept.)

Anonymous said...

"Go crawl back under your rock until and unless you have some facts (or even understand the concept.)

March 17, 2012 10:12 PM"

Thank God, someone gets it! You people with your Phds and college educations sure are stupid for being soooo educated. You are in the real world now. See what your education gets you now!!! They could replace you 10 times over with better workers. You have been coddled to long. I and people like ne 10:12pm brother get it. Wait till you have to survive off the land. Can you hunt, fish, grow your own food? Ha, ha, ha no I do not think so. See what you Phd gets you when the dollar falls. God I cant wait to see it.

Anonymous said...

"Depending on what assumptions one was willing to make for one's personal circumstances, one could project TCP-1 or TCP-2 being an ultimate winner."

C'mon the plans should be close to one another in terms of total benefit, and this is not a contest!

Anonymous said...

Bechtel and other top management get bonuses for messing with the employees. Probably their bonuses will quadruple if they freeze the pension.

Anonymous said...

Are we that far away from the day when the senior management team will inform the employees that the employees need to pay LLNL to come to work? Imagine the day when the employees will see an article on NewsOnline carefully explaining how they need to pay LLNL to be allowed to show up to work. The employees will be told how lucky they are for this opportunity and if anybody complains, retaliation will be swift and harsh. "You're the best and brightest" is what sr. mgmt. says but they remind you constantly in a million subtle and not-so-subtle ways that their real thinking is "You are lucky to have a job." Does any employee at LLNL actually feel appreciated for their work? When the economy improves, watch the exodus.

Anonymous said...

In 2013 probably no 1.5% variable pay. In 2013 the 2% reduction in Social Security taxes will end. Maybe 8% (instead of present 5%) pension plan contribution in 2013. Add all that up and your pay drops another 6.5% in 2013 on top of this year's 5% reduction. To summarize, no pay raises for years under LLNS then a 11.5% reduction in pay. Take the Soc. Sec. issue out of the equation and you are still at 9.5% pay reduction in 2013. (Counting no pay raises under LLNS, and inflation, plus this pension mess, your pay in 2013 will probably actually have dropped 20% since LLNS took over but that is another issue for another blog.) Will LLNS mismanagement cause you hardship in 2013 with a roughly 10% pay in reduction?

Anonymous said...

C'mon the plans should be close to one another in terms of total benefit...

The plans were not designed to be close to one another. TCP-2 was created (for new employees) to lower the retirement benefit costs of the Lab. If you lower cost, I don't know how you keep equal benefits. For existing employees that could consider locking their UCRP retirement and taking TCP-2 for the balance of their career, then the comparisons got interesting and depended on personal assumptions and situations.

Totally agree it is not a contest. Some posters like to spout like it was and of course their choice was the only correct one.

Anonymous said...

Are we that far away from the day when the senior management team will inform the employees that the employees need to pay LLNL to come to work?

Oh, and they'll ask you to donate a kidney, right?

Thanks for the drama.

Anonymous said...

I and people like ne 10:12pm brother get it. Wait till you have to survive off the land. Can you hunt, fish, grow your own food? Ha, ha, ha no I do not think so. See what you Phd gets you when the dollar falls. God I cant wait to see it.

March 17, 2012 11:07 PM

I am 10:12 pm, and you are an idiot. Please leave me out of your "hunt and fish and live off the land" stupidity.

Anonymous said...

"In 2013 probably no 1.5% variable pay. In 2013 the 2% reduction in Social Security taxes will end. Maybe 8% (instead of present 5%) pension plan contribution in 2013. Add all that up and your pay drops another 6.5% in 2013 on top of this year's 5% reduction. To summarize, no pay raises for years under LLNS then a 11.5% reduction in pay. Take the Soc. Sec. issue out of the equation and you are still at 9.5% pay reduction in 2013. (Counting no pay raises under LLNS, and inflation, plus this pension mess, your pay in 2013 will probably actually have dropped 20% since LLNS took over but that is another issue for another blog.) Will LLNS mismanagement cause you hardship in 2013 with a roughly 10% pay in reduction."

Is it absolutely necessary to be hysterical? Is the concept of being aware of reality as you do a yearly budget really so hard?

The variable pay is a sop LLNS has managed to get DOE to agree with during the salary freeze. It's something LLNS did to try and partially offset the freeze. It's not an entitlement, it should be expected to go away if a raise package is approved in 2013, and anyone with a brain knows that.

It is also highly likely the 2% reduction in Social Security will end. It could continue, but given the signs of life in the economy, no one should count on that. And that has nothing to do with LLNS. Whether you agree with it or not, it was a national response to a deep recession. Anyone with a brain knows both of those facts.

Finally, sure, just throw off arbitrary increases in the pension contribution next year, because the sky is falling! Add up a bunch of stuff that has nothing to do with one another, that responsible people planned for, and then throw in whatever just to be as hysterical as possible.

To summarize this pathetic drivel, there were two years without pay raises during a period in time when many people lost their jobs outright. The lack of pay raises was a national policy that had nothing to do with LLNS. LLNS worked a loophole to get a 1.5% lump sum during this period.So now LLNS is to be excoriated if that lump sum doesn't continue if salaries cease to be frozen as a matter of national policy?

Further, national policy having nothing to do with LLNS lowered social security payments for two years. So LLNS is to be ecoriated if the economy improves sufficiently that this policy comes to an end?

Further, this pension mess is driven by national economic performance having nothing to do with LLNS, and specifically exacerbated by a Federal Law on how to compute pension liabilities that LLNS had nothing to do with. So, after honestly laying out the situation for you, and giving very fair warning in early 2011 to anyone planning their finances, LLNS is to blame for all of it?

Grow up. If you hate LLNS so much, and you can do so much better elsewhere, then leave.

Anonymous said...

Wow, the person directly above is very, very angry about something. He/she doesn't make any sense but that is a lot of hostility.

Anonymous said...

Wow, the person directly above is very, very angry about something. He/she doesn't make any sense but that is a lot of hostility.

March 18, 2012 11:41 AM


They make enough sense. And I would say they are frustrated rather than showing hostility.

Anonymous said...

The reduction in pay question is valid. LLNS ULM will point to the occasional Family Day or Bring Your Kid To Work Day as the evidence they understand employees with families but let's look at their attitudes and actions instead. They are often 60 years old or older and their kids are 25 or 30 or older. ULM doesn't really seem to know (truly understand) that LLNL has employees with kids in college or even much younger and that everything has changed in the last several years in terms of the costs of raising kids. How often have you heard Parney or George use the word "family" in a meaningful way? They seem to believe everybody at LLNL can easily brush off reductions in pay because everybody is an empty nester but that is not the case.

Anonymous said...

You people with your Phds and college educations sure are stupid for being soooo educated.

I readily admit that PhDs can perceive their brilliance extending well beyond their actual areas of expertise. But if you find our presence so irksome, you really should have some self-respect and leave the Lab. I wouldn't want you to suffer the indignity of accepting a paycheck from an institution that exists to serve difficult technical missions.

And if you're not a Lab empoyee, well just plain bugger off.

Anonymous said...

"They make enough sense. And I would say they are frustrated rather than showing hostility.

March 18, 2012 11:48 AM"

No not frustrated either just very very bitter at the world. A sad little angry man who hates those educated types and hopes the something bad happens so he can use real skills like hunting and fishing. And no his posts never make sense they are just his way of lashing out.

Anonymous said...

how do you know that March 18, 2012 10:45 AM is a man?

Perhaps they're a person....

Anonymous said...

Perhaps they're a person....

March 18, 2012 1:42 PM

Come on. How can "they" be "a person"?? They = plural. Person = singular. Speak English much?

Anonymous said...

Nice try by the 7:27PM grammar police, but "they" can be singular, as 1:42PM used it. As in:

they |T͟Hā|
...
2 [ singular ] used to refer to a person of unspecified sex: ask someone if they could help.

Now back to your regularly scheduled programming....

Anonymous said...

Nice try by the 7:27PM grammar police, but "they" can be singular, as 1:42PM used it.

March 18, 2012 8:15 PM

Sure, it can be, but not correctly. There is a disturbing (to those who take English seriously as a language) trend for dictionary editors and others to give up on proper word usage whenever they think popular usage has gotten to a certain level of acceptance, or to post new "definitions" as they think fit. This approach to language is equivalent to the "the Constitution is a living document" theory of law and politics. If you are comfortable with "the public" being able, primarily because of inadequate education, to change the common language and get away with it, then the entire concept of the value of education is at risk. I am aware that languages change over time, but until the well educated among us no longer cringe, I will continue to call out these atrocities. Don't get me started on changing nouns into verbs, like "scrapbooking" shudder! I for one refuse to be "dumbed down" by ignoramuses.

Anonymous said...

"God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, Courage to change the things which can be changed, and the Wisdom to distinguish the one from the other."

- Reinhold Niebuhr

Anonymous said...

It has often been said that pedants will always be with us. Blogs provide continuous proof of that statement!

Anonymous said...

March 19, 2012 5:01 PM


Bitter drunks will always be with us as well.

Anonymous said...

I just want to know what happened to the 2% to 4% range of contributions?

Anonymous said...

"Git 'er done!"

= Larry the Cable Guy =

Anonymous said...

So in summary.

Some facts

1. Salaries Frozen
2. CPi (feb11-feb12) up 2.9%
3. Formerly free pension plan now costs 5% of salary. These contributions are not currently required because the plan is still overfunded, and they are not likely needed in the long run because the current liabilities are inflated between 10-20% by an artificially low discount rate 4.9% that is driven by temporary stimulus measures by the Fed that they have announced will expire before "late 2014".
4. Any overfunding of TCP-1 will be returned to the fund owner (US government) when the pension expires or terminates.
5. The employer match rate which was 2%/10% the last time it was collected is now about 5%/5%.
5. Bonus pool funds are not distibuted to all employees who made the lab's success possible equally but only to some.


Are these correct so far?

Do they make you feel as good as they make me feel?

It is why I retired.

Anonymous said...

Retired because I was powerless to effect the outcome and could do just as well.

Anonymous said...

Excellent summary. That's where we're at.

Anonymous said...

You folks that are retired from the Labs and claiming "victory" better look over your shoulder because YOUR NEXT. If you think the current workers (not to mention LANS/LLNS/UC) are going to continue to carry the burden of paying for your pensions, you have another thought coming. In the case of UC, this pension is a "black hole" nearing collapse, to the tune of $30 Billon. I hope you folks on any pension (LLNS/LANS/UC) saved your nickels and pennies.

Anonymous said...

I sometimes wonder just how dedicated the LANS/LLNS/Bechtel corporate management team is to preserving the pensions at the nuclear weapon labs. Most of the executive positions at the labs now have special 'pension insurance' policies to protect the lucrative retirements of those at the very top.

LLNS and LANS are required by law to keep the pensions adequately funded, which they do by taking money out of the workers pay check, never out of their own annual profit fees. Beyond that requirement, I don't think our Bechtel controllers really care what happens to TCP1 in the long term.

Note that if the LLC pensions ever go bust, the government's pension guarantee only pays out a small amount of your original pension. This amount is heavily reduced if you retired before the age of 65, as most lab workers do.

Just as an example, a professional staff member who would be making around $80k per year in retirement and retired at age 60 would only receive around $20k per year if their pension went into bankruptcy and the PBGC bailed it out. Let's hope we never get there!

Anonymous said...

I hope you folks on any pension (LLNS/LANS/UC) saved your nickels and pennies.

March 21, 2012 4:28 AM

The mindless fear-monger is back!

Anonymous said...

I don't think our Bechtel controllers really care what happens to TCP1 in the long term.

March 21, 2012 9:28 AM

Uh, there ISN'T any "long term" for TCP-1. It is a closed plan - there will never be more people in it than there were right after the LLC transition. It needs to hold enough funds to cover retirees from the plan, that's all. Anyone know how old is the youngest member of TCP-1?

Anonymous said...

There better be a long term for TCP1 and it shouldn't be achieved mostly on our backs.

Anonymous said...

There better be a long term for TCP1 and it shouldn't be achieved mostly on our backs.

March 21, 2012 7:25 PM

Uh, whose responsibility is it to fund your retirement?

Anonymous said...

It will be very interesting to see when TCP-1 goes into the red (and it will at some point!), as the UC Pension currently is, whether LLNS/LANS they will continue pay pensions as the UC Pension continues to do so. While it's easy to say "no", does anyone have any hard information on this? Does anyone have any information on how and why UC is continuing to pay for pensions in view of the $40 Billion deficit?

Anonymous said...

Does anyone have any information on how and why UC is continuing to pay for pensions in view of the $40 Billion deficit?

"Why" - because the pension benefits are part of the employment contract.

"How" - UCRP is still sitting on plenty of money to meet current cash flows. The deficit is in regards to the present value of future obligations. As noted elsewhere, that valuation can take big swings based upon assumed future rates of return.

Anonymous said...

From the UCRP website...

"Members contribute 3.5 percent of their salary and UC contributes 7 percent. Beginning July 1, 2012, members will contribute 5 percent and UC will contribute 10 percent."

Anonymous said...

>March 22, 2012 9:01 AM
>Anonymous said...
>
>From the UCRP website...

>"Members contribute 3.5 percent of >their salary and UC contributes 7 >percent. Beginning July 1, 2012, >members will contribute 5 percent >and UC will contribute 10 percent."

....and the UC employee contributions are pre-tax. Not so for the LANS and LANL folks.

Substantially Equivalent?........phhhhhht.

Anonymous said...

The entitlement mentality is alive and well at the labs. You are just like the spoiled eurozone protesters. You people just don't get the fact that you have the fattest, richest, most secure pension plan in the complex, not to mention the entire country and get mad because you have to contribute a little bit after not contributing at all? So you rally want the Lab to contribute even more out of its budget so that more layoffs will result? Would you rather end up like other labs where they actually cut the benefit? If the moron Contracting Officer at NNSA had approved a small contribution over a year ago we would not be here today. Why don't you go after the people who are actually running and managing the labs--the idiots at NNSA, instead of constantly complaining about management which is completely powerless in the face of NNSA which wants to shut the place down?

Anonymous said...

Why don't you go after the people who are actually running and managing the labs--the idiots at NNSA, instead of constantly complaining about management which is completely powerless in the face of NNSA which wants to shut the place down?

March 23, 2012 7:46 PM

If NNSA wanted to shut LANL down, it would. Just like that, no questions, no appeal, no recourse. The idea that anyone in Congress or anywhere else would stop it is just nonsense. Look at the ineffectual and half-hearted "visits" to DC by local NM politicians to "complain" about the budget cuts and layoffs. They only want some assurance that the environmental cleanup work will continue. Science? Nuclear weapons? Who cares?

NNSA doesn't want LANL closed, it just wants it to stop trying to manage its own mission and future, and bend whatever way politics drives NNSA at any given time, with minimal lag. "When we want your opinion, we'll tell you what it is." Oh, and getting rid of that stupid pension program and that stupid employee and retiree health stuff would be great. Also, why do we need scientists who make $150k a year or more? That's stupid too.

Anonymous said...

"the entitlement mentality is alive and well at the labs.."


not exactly.

a pension is rather an important deferred component of total compensation, on a yearly basis with a net present value of perhaps 10% of total compensation.

Offered for employment and accepted by those who are retained.

Was designed to retain employees that took years of invested time and salary to become competent in weapons technologies.

The older, sounder version of stock options. Still very useful to retain talent through especially tough or financially lucrative times, and yet at 10% or so, a small additional investment in total compensation.

An old hand who knows the creation myths.

Anonymous said...

So why is a pension contribution better than a 401k contribution of the same value for the general employee population (budding Warren Buffetts excepted) ?

* automatic contributions and vesting, rather than optional contributions

* professional management of a single large portfolio with lower operating costs

* appropriate risks and returns for the time horizon

* Can't withdraw funds

* Automatic tax consequences at retirement (unless lump sum withdrawal is taken), eliminating tax errors made by many 401k novices.

Properly invested and managed a 401k can match a pension, but there are many amateurs, that do not take on sufficient risk and forgo essential returns.

Anonymous said...

So the UC pension contributions are pre-tax and ours will be post-tax? Is this really true? That would mean our management is clueless. Time to whip out the old jokes - You're so clueless you tried to drown a fish.

Anonymous said...

March 24, 2012 12:16 AM

What you fail to mention in your points is the need for a very long time frame of contributing near the maximum allowed to a 401k account if it's going to be the primary source of retirement funds.

This is from an excellent program a few years ago on retirement issues....

"What do experts say should be the combined employee/employer amount put into a 401(k) each year?

Fifteen to 18 percent of salary, every year, for 30 years is the recommendation from most experts. Most advise having roughly 10 times annual pay accumulated in a 401(k)-style plan by retirement time.

Today, most workers nearing retirement have 2 to 3 times annual pay saved up in retirement accounts. That amount will allow them to maintain their pre-retirement standard of living for about 7 to 8 years, at a time when life expectancy past retirement age is 17 years."

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/retirement/

Anonymous said...

So the UC pension contributions are pre-tax and ours will be post-tax? Is this really true?

It's true at LANL. Our TCP-1 pension contributions are after taxes have been taken, so it comes out of the bottom-line take-home pay. Presently about 6%, with another 2% increase in April taking it to about 8%.

Add this to about 3.5% per year loss of purchasing power due to inflation, and sub-inflation rate increases, when our salaries haven't been frozen or increases deferred for months due to redesigned compensation processes, and LANL employees have been taking a pay cut for most of the time LANS has been managing the place.

Now it's LLNL's turn to enjoy a 6-8% bottom-line take home cut.

With compensation like this, it's hard to see how the Labs will compete for talent when the economy recovers. Who will want to go to work at a place that requires a 15-year background investigation, random drug testing, witch-hunt security responses, micro-management by NNSA, incompetent Congressional "oversight" on top of reduced constant-dollar compensation year after year?

Anonymous said...

Does that mean we get taxed twice for our contribution ?

Anonymous said...

Someone asked: "Does that mean we get taxed twice for our contribution?"

Answer: supposedly the funds you contribute post-tax are kept separately and you will not be taxed on them when they come back to you. I say supposedly because who knows what tax law (Fed/State) will be in place 20-30-40 years from now (not to mention next year!) and who knows what shenanigans whoever owns the pension at that point will be up to....

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, but I just don't see a big deal here. DOE has given permission to initiate pension contributions in accordance with the law.

Truly... not... shocking.

If you have a pension, just be grateful for it.

And the SS 2% and 1.5% bonus stuff is a red herring. Has nothing to do with the pension and was always temporary. You're supposed to know that.

Anonymous said...

Gotta love the trolls on this blog, "You should have known not to get cancer. You should have planned not to get cancer. You should have known it was bad for you. It is all your fault." Guess what trolls? Almost everybody at the Lab disagrees with you and that is why you always be a troll. Just in case the trolls don't understand the comment above, it a parody of "You should have known not to work at a mismanaged place. ULM's mismanagement is all your fault."

Anonymous said...

To 7:55

LLNS is no worse than plenty of places that employ scientists and engineers. It is actually better than some. If you think it's so awful, and yourself such a desirable employer, go do better elsewhere. No one is stopping you.

And the cancer analogy is stupid. Cancer is truly an unexpected event when it manifests itself. And, gasp, LLNS will cover it for you when it does under the health plan. By contrast, the fact of losing the temporary 2% social seucrity reduction is an inevitability that people are supposed to foresee and prepare for. The fact of pension payments starting up again, when LLNS has been warning of that for at least a year, is likewise something that people are supposed to prepare for.

Anonymous said...

Exactly right. If LLNS is such a mess, leave. You'll find that while there are some better employers out there, there are also many a lot worse.

You guys complaining don't know what a truly crummy employer is.

Anonymous said...

You guys complaining don't know what a truly crummy employer is.

March 25, 2012 7:17 PM

Oh I worked in industry and LANS/LLNS now competing with some of the most "crappy" employers to work for in the U.S..

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...Why all the whining?

I don't have TCP-1, but I do understand that a 5% contribution is a significant hit.

This must be from someone who is a double dipper...collecting UC retirement and their continued salary as a LLNS employee, receiving matching 401K, taking up a working slot that should go to a younger, unemployed person. Of course they aren't whining...time for you to go away and let the milennium generation take your job !

Anonymous said...

This must be from someone who is a double dipper...collecting UC retirement and their continued salary as a LLNS employee, receiving matching 401K, taking up a working slot that should go to a younger, unemployed person. Of course they aren't whining...time for you to go away and let the milennium generation take your job !

March 29, 2012 10:41 AM

But you don't care about all the ex-NNSA folks getting high-paying Bechtel/LLNS/LANS jobs while collecting Gov't pensions? I wonder why not? Could it be you don't covet THEIR jobs? Good job at restoring and justifying the whining.

Anonymous said...

Employee contributions are because of NIF budget problems.

Anonymous said...

They are trying to make you retire.

Anonymous said...

Bingo!

They want as many TCP1ers to quit as possible before they VSP/RIF this holiday season and have to pay out severance.

Last time they did a lay off that pesky severance killed their profit margin on the layoff. LLNS is not making that mistake twice.

Hence all this BS about "protecting" our pension...

Read some financial history, all of these techniques are out of the standard corporate pension playbook.

Read "Retirement Heist" by Ellen Schultz or look up her interview on CSPAN

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