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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, November 3, 2014

Lawrence Livermore lab workers threaten strike over wages, safety concerns

Lawrence Livermore lab workers threaten strike over wages, safety concerns

San Jose Mercury News
by Jeremy Thomas - 10/29/14

LIVERMORE -- The union representing more than 200 electricians, plumbers and other skilled trades workers at Lawrence Livermore Lab is threatening to strike over what they're calling unfair labor practices, safety concerns and wage fraud by lab management.

After more than a year of negotiating a new contract, members of the workers' union say they plan to picket the lab Thursday to demand fair pay and protest against "grossly inadequate maintenance procedures" they say endanger the community.

Substantial workforce cuts, union representatives claim, have left employees unable to perform routine repairs on equipment and items like boilers and rolling doors, leading to system failures, idling facilities, and an increased possibility of a "catastrophic incident."

"They're deferring a lot of maintenance that's not being done," said Steve Balke, an electrician and assistant lead bargainer for the Society of Professionals, Scientists, and Engineers (SPSE). "There are safety issues that could become hazardous to the public."

Lab spokeswoman Lynda Seaver responded to the charge, saying workplace safety remains a top priority of the lab, and -- despite the union's contention -- there is no safety risk from existing maintenance procedures.

"It has been a long-standing practice that any employee who feels the lab is not operating safely has the right to pause or stop work to address safety concerns," Seaver said. "The lab is doing nothing to usurp safety here."

The workers have been without a contract since January and have been in negotiations with lab management since June 2013.

Besides safety issues, union representatives contend some workers also have not received prevailing wages for certain preventative maintenance jobs, resulting in the employees losing out on as much as $10 per hour. They're asking for an 8 percent raise to match what it says contractors working alongside them are making.

While declining to address the union's wage demands due to the ongoing talks, Seaver said the Department of Labor has made no determination regarding the lab's wage practices. The lab has never turned down a request to bargain, she said, and union leadership has repeatedly rejected introducing a federal mediator.
"We're ready to go back to the bargaining table whenever they are," Seaver said, adding that the next session is scheduled for Nov. 5.

The SPSE expects about 100 people to attend Thursday's demonstration. Union leaders said about half of members currently support a strike, which would be the first for the chapter.
"We're hoping with this action that it will show we're serious about it and the lab needs to start bargaining," said Bill Smith, president-elect of the union. "It's important for the entire lab that we get on top of the safety and maintenance issues."

The lab, Seaver said, has a contingency plan in place in the event of a strike.


http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_26824787/lawrence-livermore-lab-workers-threaten-strike-over-wages

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

"The lab, Seaver said, has a contingency plan in place in the event of a strike."

Yep, fire them all and use contractor labor from now on.

Anonymous said...

I was wondering how long it would take until the first union basher would show up. Here we go.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the first poster to contract out.
This is not the focus of a Laboratory.
Am I a bad person too?

Anonymous said...

The real reason is LLNL drug testing can detect butt-crack.

Anonymous said...

"...I agree with the first poster to contract out.
This is not the focus of a Laboratory.
Am I a bad person too?..."

You are not a "bad person" for having a point of view.

I think a "contract out" or revolving door of employees can present security issues, on top of the obvious impact to employee value and morale. It might be a mistake to believe the treatment of these LLNS employees will have no influence on employees outside of their ranks. In the broadest sense, consider their treatment as a test response for the greater LLNS population. Downward benefit creep should be a concern to all LLNS employees.

Anonymous said...

Yes but 98% of Lab employees are not jumping up and down at the West Gate like a bunch of baffoons.

If you want to have your little group fine
but don't expect a sympathetic public (or fellow employees) when you act like 1st graders.
It seems to me that might reflect on your work (not being super intelligent) and might prove the case for outsourcing?

Anonymous said...

"...Yes but 98% of Lab employees are not jumping up and down at the West Gate like a bunch of baffoons..."

True, a subset of the 98% population reserve their behavior for behind closed doors because they are sophisticated and elite buffoons. BIG difference of course.

Anonymous said...

No sympathy from the 98%, and certainly no sympathy from the general public driving by who would find it humorous. So what exactly is the point? If you're unhappy and think you can do better elsewhere, leave.

Anonymous said...

I love the way safety concerns are always thrown in there with wage issues. If you're that concerned about safety issues, focus on that alone. Reminds me too much of the BART strikes... making it appear they were about safety when we all know the key issue was monetary.

Anonymous said...

True fact about unions: if the 98% felt as the 2% do, there would be no need for a union. For the 2%, a union is useless and a joke. Take your pick.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with 11/5 10:02pm. The UPTE union likes to throw down the "safety card" at every opportunity. What they really ought to be concerned about is when management finally discovers that most of them don't even have the basic skills to get a job outside the fence. That will be made clear once the replacement contractors show up to do their work when they go on strike.

Anonymous said...

Revenge of the C+ students......buckle up!

Anonymous said...

May or may not be directly relevant, but years ago I had a rigging job I needed to get done, moving a very heavy optical table into a room. I talked to the lab riggers and they wanted nothing to do with the job - they actually refused and said it could not be done. So I went outside and found a contractor, and they scoped it out, gave me a quote, showed up with some steel helpers already fabricated, and got the job done in a half day. Ever since, my preference has *always* been to use outside contractors whenever possible, because lab skilled labor prefers to sit on its ass and collect a paycheck.

Anonymous said...

"...Lab spokeswoman Lynda Seaver responded to the charge, saying workplace safety remains a top priority of the lab, and -- despite the union's contention -- there is no safety risk from existing maintenance procedures.

"It has been a long-standing practice that any employee who feels the lab is not operating safely has the right to pause or stop work to address safety concerns," Seaver said. "The lab is doing nothing to usurp safety here.".."

The lab spokesperson is most definitely not correct in her assertion regarding the safety culture at LLNS. Safety concerns, a work pause, or a work stop, at LLNS are addressed or not addressed based on perceived value to LLNS management, or perceived value to promote or reprimand specific LLNS employees.

Anonymous said...

There is no need to be safe anymore because physical work is not done anymore it is all computer modeling.What's the big deal? It's where we want to be.

POS

Anonymous said...

Strike happened, didn't happen, issues addressed or placated?

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