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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

Friday, June 13, 2014

The 2014 Raises

The article below lends a couple of perspectives that are a bit revealing - why management surprisingly announced retroactive pay - and some sobering information regarding the disparity, aka greed, that the middle class is forced to support to the rich. The article is good information for all to be aware.

March 2014 SPSE-UPTE Monthly Memo
The 2014 Raises 
Society of Professionals, Scientists and Engineers, Local 11 of the University Professional and Technical Employees-CWA 9119, AFL-CIO (SPSE-UPTE) offers a hearty “thank you” to the hundreds of employees who signed our petition to the Lab Director to make the 2014 raises retroactive to January 1.[1] As we were readying the petition for transmittal to the Director, he sent an email message to all employees announcing his decision to make the raises retroactive to January 1.

Our petition undoubtedly played some role in his decision, even if only a subconscious one.

In his January All Hands presentation the Director made an implied promise that all employees will get a raise, and that the “global average” wage increase would be 2.5%. We urge him to guarantee that his promise to employees is kept, and that no employee gets zero base-building raise, like what he has proposed for the Skilled Trades employees.

The 2014 raises are one small step in the direction of making up for the years of pay freezes and paltry raises that we have endured at the Lab over the past several years. This small step, however, does not go anywhere near enough to really addressing the growing income inequality issue afflicting U. S. workers. We discuss economic inequality in the next article, and how it affects us here at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL).

[1] The text of the petition:
     “Dear Director Knapp, We are pleased to learn that DOE/NNSA has approved the Lab’s Compensation Increase Plan (CIP) and that we will be receiving our raises on or about April 1. We understand that the Lab received authorization for the full CIP allocation despite the government shutdown. Given that you received authorization for our raises to start January 1, 2014, we urge you to distribute the raises retroactive to that date.
In addition, we urge you to distribute raises fairly and transparently to all employees, including the Skilled Trades employees, for whom you have proposed no base-building pay increase.”
Economic Inequality, Union Membership, and LLNL
Employees at LLNL have now endured years of pay freezes or paltry raises while the Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC (LLNS) Board of Directors rakes in huge management bonuses. There have been many news reports over the past few years about growing income inequality in the U.S. and world-wide. A recent study[1] puts this fact into perspective. A summary of the Study’s conclusions:

• Almost half of the world’s wealth is now owned by just one percent of the population.

• The wealth of the one percent richest people in the world amounts to $110 trillion. That’s 65 times the total wealth of the bottom half of the world’s population.

• The bottom half of the world’s population owns the same as the richest 85 people in the world.

• Seven out of ten people live in countries where economic inequality has increased in the last 30 years.

• The richest one percent increased their share of income in 24 out of 26 countries for which there are data between 1980 and 2012.

• In the US, the wealthiest one percent captured 95 percent of post-financial crisis growth since 2009, while the bottom 90 percent became poorer.

The trend toward growing economic inequality, which threatens social stability and democratic government, is not a recent phenomenon, but has been underway for decades. It is driven partly by macro-economic forces: first, by the globalization of capital, then by the globalization of labor as companies outsource jobs in a never-ending quest to reduce their labor costs. Increasing automation plays a role, too.

Deliberate policy choices are also responsible for growing economic inequality, particularly the growing trend toward privatization of government functions, like public education.[2] The privatization movement goes hand-in-hand with the dramatic decline in the power and ability of workers to bargain collectively for their pay, benefits, and working conditions. Figure 1 shows the correlation between union membership and middle-class incomes.

This correlation, of course, does not necessarily mean that declining union membership causes income loss, but the correlation is so strong that if we ignore it we are passing up an opportunity to help reverse this damaging growth in economic inequality.

Employees at the Lab are not sheltered from the problems caused by growing economic inequality. In addition to suffering through years of no raises or paltry raises, we have seen steady erosion in our health benefits and retirement benefits as the costs of these benefits go up. We have also seen steady erosion in our job rights and job security. There are other effects that, in some ways, are even more troublesome. In the next issue of the SPSE-UPTE Monthly Memo we will show how Lab management’s choice to save money on infrastructure maintenance puts the health and safety of all of us at risk. 

[1] “Working for the Few: Political capture and economic inequality”, Oxfam Briefing Paper 178, 20 January 2014, available at
[2] See, for example, Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools, by Diane Ravitch, Knopf (2013).


Anonymous said...

Our petition undoubtedly played some role in his decision, even if only a subconscious one.


Anonymous said...

I'm sure that the petition did play a significant role in the decision for retroactive raise. I mean, there was no reason to delay the raises in the first place.

Anonymous said...

Pay disparity, the chasm between rich, middle class and poor are subjects of importance to me. Seriously, will the Waltons, Ellisons, etc., every run out of money? Meanwhile, the rest of us are paycheck to paycheck or worse. I was happy to see that the common folk are bothered by the poor treatment of Wal-Mart employees. Similarly, the National Lab employees have endured pay freezes, degradation to the work environment due to janitorial and other services, and job insecurity. One comment spoken was, "The Lab is now the worse of government and the worse of industry combined". Many heads nod in agreement. I thought that the comment is quite profound.

Anonymous said...

You impugn your credibility by employing Livermore chartsmanship: The graph plots comparing union membership and employee "share of the pie" should actually be different slopes. Any slow eighth grader could see that!

Anonymous said...

The article is nothing more than the one-sided presentation of cherry-picked data. It emphasizes the lack of SPSE-UPTE credibility.

For one, the rich and well-to-do pay the vast majority of income taxes in the United States. This is not mentioned in the article. In fact, if there was no financial inequality and everyone earned the same income, federal and state tax revenues would drop by over 75%. It is income inequality that funds all the government programs that we take for granted, including the above average salaries of national laboratory employees.

The people who complain about income equality clearly do not want to support parks, schools, roads, health care, police, fire, defense, research, environmental programs, and all the other activities funded by the government.

As for Wal-Mart, due to it's low prices, this company probably has done more to help poor people than any other company since the beginning of time. But Wal-Mart is bad.

The article is written by a bunch of rich people who are too ignorant and arrogant to realize how rich they really are (e.g., the average Laboratory employee earns more than 95% of the global population). These people clearly do not care about the poor.

Anonymous said...

llnl salaries are far too high already. salary freezes are in order for several more years. people there (particularly at the professional level) think too highly of themselves given how little most of them accomplish in a year. Most of the good ones left. The good ones remaining are stupid because they will never be advanced further.

Anonymous said...

Middle class workers want to "eat the rich" but still apsire to be one of them. And as soon as they become wealthy, their tune changes.

Anonymous said...

Sorry. "Aspire."

Anonymous said...

If you don't know anything about economics, Series 7 or 11, keep your mouths shut.

The article is written by rich folks who pander for the friendship of those in other neighborhoods.

American politics can be summed up:
Physically strong men are conservative:

and our president working out:

throwing baseball:

and let's not forget the bike riding.

Seems to be able to relate to women real well.

Hey, but he can read a teleprompter and sound good. He da "man".

Anonymous said...

The pay raise for the lab was baked in before Knapp came on board. Knapp came in with the idea that lab finances were a mess. When he found out differently, he pulled the trigger on an already loaded gun. The union had nothing to do with it.

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