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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. Opinions not conforming to BLOG rules are deleted. Blog author serves as a moderator. For new topics or suggestions, email

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

SPSE-UPTE Working to Reduce the Hardship of Shrinking Take Home Pay for Some in TCP1 Retirement Plan

From SPSE: SPSE-UPTE Working to Reduce the Hardship of Shrinking Take Home Pay for Some in TCP1 Retirement Plan ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ By William Smith ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- To fund TCP1, those LLNL employees who elected to stay in the TCP1 defined benefit plan that replaced the University of California’s Retirement Plan had their take home pay cut by around 10% in June for most employees. Soon, in 2013, take home pay may be cut by nearly 14%. With medical and other premiums increasing, many employees are looking at reducing contributions to 401(K) retirement plans, cutting entertainment expenses, moving to less expensive quarters, and at least one has quit LLNL to take a better paying job elsewhere. As part of the bargaining to modify the contract between LLNS to negotiate reductions in benefits with the skilled trades bargaining unit, SPSE-UPTE has identified several options for reducing the hardship. These options range from a pay increase of 5% to the reinstallation of progressive benefit rates, where percentage of payroll contributed increases with base pay. At LANS, once pay for the year exceeds the social security base, the deduction for retirement contributions is increased by 2% so that higher earners contribute a higher percentage of their salary to retirement. Although LLNL’s total contributions started late, they now far exceed the contributions of UC for both employee and employer. The LLNS employer contribution for 2012 is about double that of UC’s employer contribution and the LLNS employer contribution is projected to increase the effective cost of TCP1 labor by over 30% in 2013 in comparison to 0% in 2011. Tales of true hardship looming after mandatory contributions to TCP1 begin abound. One woman who has a disabled husband and joined LLNL mid-career will have to cut back on her contributions to her supplemental retirement program. Without supplemental retirement contributions she does not know how she will pay for higher than normal family medical expenses during retirement. SPSE-UPTE is negotiating to reduce hardships resulting from this steep increase in TCP1 pension contributions and working with management to control pension costs to keep LLNL competitive. Your stories of personal hardship or of sponsor concerns with high LLNL overhead costs would help inform the negotiations.


Anonymous said...

Dream on !

Anonymous said...

Check this out.
Airbus is the largest airline manufacturer in Europe.
Equivalent to Boeing.
Guess why they chose not to build their new manufacturing plant in California. Unions!!! Instead they chose a Right to Work state.

There are 23 Right to Work states where a worker is not forced to join a Union and guess what...when people are given a choice they choose not to join a Union.
Guess what? Toyota built all of their factories except one in Right to Work states....guess where the one was...Fremont....

Oh one more thing...Boeing built a new airline plant last year...Washington, Oregon no no. They built it in a Right to Work state ...North Carolina.

The two teachers in LA who did the sexual acts on children could not be fired (although they resigne) because of the teachers Union.

Please consider helping to make a National Right to Work law so no one is forced to be a Union drone.

Anonymous said...

Actually, Congress just passed a bill loosening requirements on the benchmarks on which the assumed rate of return of the pension is computed. When will the Lab realize this ???

Anonymous said...

"...and at least one has quit LLNL to take a better paying job elsewhere." - 4:03 am

Yes, that is probably the single best option for most of the highly skilled scientific staff.

Oh, and in addition to the rapidly shrinking real take-home pay of the lab's staff, there is also the fact that LANS recently slashed the number of days they say they are required to inform staff at LANL of a RIF from 60 to only 30 days. They rolled out this new policy late on a quiet Friday afternoon with little publicity to employees.

All DoD contractors are forced to follow the 60 day federal rule before beginning layoffs but it now seems that LANS doesn't believe those contractor rules apply to them.

Think about it for a minute... as a lab researcher (aka "contractor") you currently don't even have the benefits or protections supplied to most lowly defense contractors! Heck, most defense companies with worker pensions are required to use their profits to help cover the rapidly growing pension shortfalls. The NNSA LLCs pocket all of their profits and have made it clear that they will never use any of their annual profits to cover pension or benefit shortfalls. It just keeps getting worse and worse at the NNSA labs.

Anonymous said...

McMillan basically "stole" $50 million in pension surplus funding at LANL to feed his programmatic desires at LANL.... like luxury trips for his executive team to Russia while the rest of his staff are being told to skip all thoughts of lab travel and attendance at scientific conferences.

In another year or two, that $50 million surplus pilfered from the TCP1 pension at LANL with NNSA's consent will be missed. Not to worry, as they'll surely come back to the employees to take the needed millions out of their employees' shrinking paychecks.

Anonymous said...

9:13 PM gets it about right. Lockheed has indicated that it must follow the federal contracting law and must give 60 day minimum notice before a layoff. All major DoD contractors have followed the same path. Next time you hear a coworker start to complain about the ills that will occur when the weapons labs have been moved under DoD, take a moment to remind them of the late Friday afternoon policy change announced by Charlie.
While there are pros and cons to being under DoD, the pros win out in any serious examination.

Anonymous said...

CNN: Employers to raise worker pay by 2.9% next year (Aug 2, 2012)

Employers plan to be a little more generous with pay raises next year -- especially when it comes to their top performers.

Almost all -- or 98% -- of the 1,500 mid-sized and large employers surveyed by consulting firm Mercer said they plan to increase salaries in 2013. On average, salaries are expected to rise by 2.9%, up from the 2.7% increases workers saw in 2012 and 2011.

Meanwhile, back at the dismal and de-moralized NNSA research labs, the financial beatings of the employees will continue until moral improves....

Anonymous said...

I wonder if LANS decision to wipe-out the accumulated severance of their loyal workers from 39 weeks to 26 weeks would hold up in a court of law?

Perhaps we'll soon see when LANS begins their 30 day countdown to their next planned downsizing event.

Anonymous said...

@7:56AM it depends on who is on the jury. If it is full with retired UC era employees, then they will remember when you got 52 full weeks pay for 46 weeks work each year for your entire career and layoff was a foreign word. If it has young people on it, then anything over two weeks severance is seen as an unexpected gift. Roll the dice and see what comes up.

Anonymous said...

I don't know how LANS can think they are exempt from the 60 day notice required by the WARN act. From the Department of Labor's fact sheet:

In general, employers are covered by WARN if they have 100 or more employees, not counting employees who have worked less than 6 months in the last 12 months and not counting employees who work an average of less than 20 hours a week. Private, for-profit employers and private, nonprofit employers are covered, as are public and quasi-public entities which operate in a commercial context and are separately organized from the regular government. Regular Federal, State, and local government entities which provide public services are not covered.

Since LANS is not a Regular Federal, State nor local government, I don't see how the could consider themselves exempted.

There is now an ongoing argument between the DOL and several major defense contractors (notably Lockheed) who have indicated they will issue a WARN statement to their workers figuring that the budgets will be slashed due to sequestration in January. In order to meet the 60 day notice, the employees would receive the notice just before the elections.

This presents a political hot potato to the DOL and large defense contractors. The labor department is arguing that since the sequestration is not a done deal (snickering from gallery), the companies shouldn't send out the notices (which would possibly give a sour opinion to the voting pool).

I have not heard if NNSA has somehow escaped this budget squeeze. Nothing I've seen at LLNL has indicated that particular hatchet is hanging over our heads, but I expect that it does.

Anonymous said...

Keep up the good work Bill. Your heart is in the right place. I hope Parney, Monya and DOE realize this.

An old friend.

Anonymous said...

If LANL Legal department says it is OK to only give 30 days notice then it must be legal. Why? Because their team of corporate lawyers have much deeper pockets than yours and they know that fact all too well.

Care for some solid proof? Does the name Todd Kaupilla and his sad story ring a bell with anyone still left working at LANL?

Perhaps all the downsizing and layoffs have succeeding in filling the place with so many young, unquestioning newbies that the many sordid actions of LANL upper management from the dark past have now been long forgotten by those still left at Sig Hecker's infamous "scientific prison".

Anonymous said...

Wow, a 10% salary reduction is quite large. How much does the government contribute to the pension funding shortfall?

This is another reduction on top of many others....When salaries are frozen or benefits are reduced, I do my best to retain the effective pay rate by reducing hours worked proportionately. After the Hazel O'leary freeze, the benefits losses under the transition and the the current freeze, the effective reduction in effort or time spent working in a workday averages 15% fewer hours than would have been worked if completely compensated. Some of this was in effort reduction, some in hours reduction and some in not taking on newer additional assignments in spite of doing the 85% paid effort very well. The best use of time was in longer periods for exercise. The most satisfying rebellion was withholding support, efforts or solutions 15% of the time mostly from difficult coworkers.

Pissing off employees is somewhat self defeating. The inequity is redressed over time. Really good effort melts to adequate over time.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand the whining and complaints about the pension contributions. This is a good thing if you took TCP1. When you chose TCP1 you knew that contributions were a certainty at some point. It should have happened sooner. These contributions will prevent future hardship. The effective salary decrease is something everyone should have planned for.

Thanks Parney for getting NNSA to reconsider.

And no, there should not be an escalating rate depending on salary.

Anonymous said...

Potentially having to pay into the pension was a well known factor when we all had to decide wether to go TCP1 or 2. Now that paying in is happening, those who have to pay (and realize a nice pension) should not complain. If there is any group raises it should extend to all employees TCP1 and 2. If not, there will be a law suit plain and simple. Salary is salary, and benefits are benefits. Make your choices and live with it. We all deserve a 5% increase given the raise freeze. A freeze applied equally to all, except for the "favorites and releatives" of our corrupt management.

Anonymous said...

Employees should have an option to opt out of contributing and freeze their pension plan. Kinda like TCP1/TCP2 again, TCP1 if one opts to stay in the plan and TCP2 if opting out. Personally, I rather put that 5% on an IRA or 401K account.

Anonymous said...

Even though they had accurate actuarial predictions in hand, during the time of the transition, the rat bastards did not disclose these much needed and helpful projections to employees for their deliberations.

They only said. TCP1 is 160% fully funded now, without explaining what this meant.

If I had witheld such material information from LLNL management in anything I did, I would have been fired. The lack of transparency was apalling and unexpected, indeed the most disappointing difference between being managed by UC, where information dissemination was a high priority, FIAT LUX, and under the dumbbells of LLNS who manage information as a valuable business commodity. Lynn Sodertrom and Tyler Pryzbylek are some of the worst at withholding materiial information. So while renewed contributions were possible, at the decision making time, employees were mislead into thinking that they would be unnecessary given projected funding, and if anything would return to the 2%, 4% UCRP contributions of the previous time.

Sure, we should have known and yes the liars that we work for should have provided all information material to the decision.

Anyone wonder why management is not now valued, respected, followed or trusted?

Anonymous said...

I know, I know... caveat emptor.

It's nice to know that you must constantly vet those you work for. One eye on the job and one eye for the rat bastards, so to speak.

Not exactly the characteristic of a well run organization.

Not looking for sympathy, I countered with appropriate response before leaving. All is now well.

Anonymous said...

August 3, 2012 10:16 PM

During the transition I took TCP-2 simply because as I reviewed the more than 1000 questions posed to LLNS I didn't trust the bastards. I searched Bechtel past history. Not a single company they've ever taken over has flourished but what caught my eye the most was the stats on the # of people they shit-canned once they acquired control. Again, all those who took TCP-2 were correct even though most have to work until they are 62 to 67 before they can retire. I'm just sitting around waiting on the day when DOE says, I'm not funding the pension plan at $80M in 2012 and again in 2013 at $164M. Have you guys seem where next year’s TCP-1 people will have 7% of their contributions taken from there check and LLNS portion goes from 12 - 24 %. If you think the economy is going to get better and those %'s of contributions are going to go down, well, in 2025 you'll finally get what you want. Until then just keep forking it over bubba. Who knows by then DOE might wipe their hands of the pension plan entirely and turn it all over to PBGC.

Anonymous said...

The good news is that the TCP1 pension is pretty generous compared to average compensation plans (some of the Valley's more generous plans excepted).

And given these funding changes, it is likely to meet its commitments to all beneficiaries, pensioner as well as spouses for the remainder of their lives.

A pretty nice send-off.... from someone now retired.

Anonymous said...

August 4, 2012 3:25 PM

Hi George and Mike. Gald to see you're there sucking off the tit at $350K+ and $1.2M a year for life. I expect your boy Ed should joining you shortly to do the same as you're doing. Got to get the goods while the going good, hah?.

Anonymous said...

Remember the comments of LANS Director, Charlie McMillan, during his last All-Hands? He told the remaining staff at LANL to "Follow the money!". That's exactly what he said.

Looks like Charlie and Bret Knapp will soon be joining George Miller and Mike Anastasio into the lap of luxury during their retirements when they leave and move back to Cali.

Yeah, "Follow the money", that's the solution! They sure are! What pigs.

Anonymous said...

The bill, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, or MAP-21 that included the pension changes was signed by President Barack Obama on July 6.

The bill also contained new governance procedures for the PBGC, including a risk management officer for the agency's $73.3 billion portfolio, tighter conflict-of-interest controls, an advocacy office for participants and plan sponsors, and peer-review of plan modeling assumptions by other government agencies.

For corporate plans, the biggest positive change was interest rate stabilization. Since the 2006 passage of the Pension Protection Act, most plan sponsors have had to use discount rates based on a two-year average of corporate bond index rates to calculate their pension liabilities and figure out their funding obligations each year. The rates were further broken depending on the maturity of the plan and when payouts are due.

In the current low-rate environment, the first segment rate for valuing liabilities due in the next five years is a rock-bottom 1.98%, while the highest rate is 6.19%.

But under the new law, sponsors can take a 25-year historic average of corporate bond rates to determine a rate within a 10% range, or corridor, of the two-year rate.

Using the higher rates could reduce liabilities by 10% to 20%, estimates Donald Fuerst, senior pension fellow at the American Academy of Actuaries, Washington. The effective rate used now averages 5.3%, while the new discount rate will average 6.7%. “For some plans, it could make their entire underfunding problem disappear — for a while,” Mr. Fuerst said in an interview.

Anonymous said...

"it could make their entire underfunding problem disappear — for a while"

Key phrase here: "for a while".

Japan entered a long term economic depression over 20 years ago and has had ultra-low bond rates ever since their markets collapsed back in 1990. Same pattern might be seen in America. If so, then letting pensions play games by forecasting unrealistic high rates of return for outlying years might eventually cause pensions to go bankrupt at a faster rate.

The government is letting a risky "shell game" be played on pension holders with this new policy so that corporations can be let off the hook for their legal responsibilities. The Ponzi schemes continues.

Anonymous said...

Many tales of hardship at LLNL but a great fear of saying anything.

Anonymous said...

You could have been more detailed.
No, I didn't know about

Todd Kauppila
But here's what a google search showed:

Todd Kauppila died on May 8, 2005, aged 41, of hemorrhagic pancreatitis, at the Los Alamos hospital, according to the state medical examiner's office. No photograph of him is available due to the secret nature of his work.

Kauppila's death came just two days after he had publicly rejoiced over news that the lab's director, Peter Nanos, was leaving. Kauppila had been fired by Nanos on Sept. 23, 2004 following a security scandal. Kauppila stated he has been fired because he did not immediately return from a family vacation during a lab investigation into two classified computer disks that were thought to be missing; the apparent security breach had forced Nanos to shut down the lab for several weeks. Kauppila claimed he was made a scapegoat over the missing disks, which investigators subsequently concluded never existed, the mistake being blamed on a clerical error.

After leaving Los Alamos, Kauppila accepted a job as a contractor at Bechtel Nevada Corp., a research company that works with Los Alamos and other national laboratories.

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