BLOG purpose

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 24, 2014

E-mail trail does not support claims of Lab Director!

E-mail trail does not support claims of Lab Director!

“The Lab was very open with the Department of Energy and the Carlsbad Field Office about hypotheses under evaluation, with daily discussions on all efforts to discover the cause of the breach and to ensure the safety and security of the remaining drums,” McMillan wrote in the memo to lab workers Monday.

But emails that were the basis for the news report contradict McMillan’s memo. Those messages, colored at times by outrage from WIPP officials about what they weren’t told by LANL, show that despite daily briefings between WIPP and Los Alamos personnel about the ongoing investigations into the leak, a week passed before WIPP officials learned of Clemmons’ findings about the potentially explosive mixture in the waste.

Officials at WIPP became aware of Clemmons’ memo only after a Department of Energy employee at LANL leaked it to a colleague in Carlsbad, who then shared it with them. The discovery prompted decision-makers at WIPP to postpone a scheduled expedition by employees to collect specimens for scientific testing in the area where the drum burst.

http://www.santafenewmexican.com/news/local_news/lanl-chief-denies-lab-hid-facts-from-wipp/article_8e167469-861b-52b1-be8b-3a64d75c7aff.html

DOE Launches Enforcement Investigation into Los Alamos TRU Waste Program

Weapons Complex Monitor
November 20, 2014

DOE Launches Enforcement Investigation into Los Alamos TRU Waste Program

The Department of Energy’s Office of Enterprise Assessment is conducting an investigation into remediation of transuranic waste drums at Los Alamos National Laboratory that have been linked to the release at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant. The Office of Enforcement’s investigation will center on “the facts and circumstances associated with the remediation of selected transuranic waste drums at Los Alamos National Laboratory and its potential relationship to the radiological release event” at WIPP, according to a Nov. 14 notice to LANL from Office of Enforcement Director Steven Simonson. Separately, the New Mexico Environment Department is expected to also soon take enforcement action against Los Alamos for violations related to transuranic waste processing.

http://energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2014/11/f19/LANS Notice of Investigation (11-14-14).pdf

Thursday, November 20, 2014

"Rumors" -Timex Social Club



It's quite unfortunate when an eighties high school pop song can describe a premier weapons lab.

"Rumors" -Timex Social Club

How do rumors get started
They're started by the jealous people
And they get mad seeing something
They had and somebody else is holding

They tell me that temptation is very hard to resist
But these wicked women, ooh, they just persist
Maybe you think it's cute, but girl
I'm not impressed, I'll tell you one time only
With my business please, don't mess

When you look at all these rumors surrounding
Me every day I just need some time, some time
To get away from from all these rumors
I can't take it no more, my best friend said
There's one out now about me and the girl next door

Did you hear the one about Tina
Some say she's much too loose
That came straight from a guy who claims
He's tasted her juice, did you hear the one about Michael?
Some say he must be gay I tried to argue

But they said if he was straight
He wouldn't move that way
Did you hear that one about Susan?
Some say she's just a tease in a camisole
She's six feet tall, she'll knock you to your knees

When you look at all these rumors surrounding
Me every day I just need some time, some time
To get away from from all these rumors
I can't take it no more, my best friend said
There's one out now about me and the girl next door

I can't go no place without somebody
Pointing a finger I can't show my face
รข€~Cause when it comes to rumors I'm a dead ringer
It seems from rumors I just can't get away

I'll bet there'll even be rumors floating around on
Judgment Day I'll think I'll write my congressman
And tell him to pass a bill, so the next time they catch
Somebody starting rumors, shoot to kill

When you look at all these rumors surrounding
Me every day I just need some time, some time
To get away from from all these rumors
I can't take it no more, my best friend said
There's one out now about me and the girl next door

What's mine is mine, I ain't got time for rumors
In my life I'm a man who thinks, not a man who drinks
So please let me live my life, what's mine is mine
I ain't got time for rumors in my life

Look at all these rumors
I'm a man who thinks, not a man who drinks
So please let me live my life what's mine is mine
I ain't got time for rumors in my life

Look at all these rumors
I'm a man who thinks, not a man who drinks
So please let me live my life

When you look at all these rumors surrounding
Me every day I just need some time, some time
To get away from from all these rumors
I can't take it no more, my best friend said
There's one out now about me and the girl next door

When you look at all these rumors surrounding
Me every day I just need some time, some time
To get away from from all these rumors
I can't take it no more, my best friend said
There's one out now about me and the girl next door

Stop, stop spreading those rumors around
Stop, stop spreading the lies
Stop, stop spreading those rumors around
Stop, stop spreading the lies

Stop, stop spreading those rumors around
Stop, stop spreading the lies
Stop, stop spreading those rumors around
Stop, stop spreading the lies

Stop, stop spreading those rumors
Around stop, stop spreading the lies

Mines president named in Sandia scandal by Inspector General

Mines president named in Sandia scandal by Inspector General:

http://rapidcityjournal.com/news/local/mines-president-named-in-doe-inspector-general-s-probe/article_b984ab84-d593-5578-8007-e70e7c9e986f.html

Carl Beard is leaving LANL

 Carl Beard is leaving LANL per LANL-wide email today and I also hear LANS is all done in 2018 running LANLWord is LANS lost its contract extension or something like that for two years in a row so that apparently means they are all done when their current term expires at the end of FY17. This is also the reason Carl Beard had to go.

A message from LLNL Director Bill Goldstein

A message from LLNL Director Bill Goldstein
11/19/2014

It is with great sadness that I announce the loss of our friend and colleague, Bret Knapp. Bret was an inspiration to many of us and his contributions were extraordinary. He made a significant impact during his short tenure as the acting LLNL director and LLNS president and during his earlier 26-year LLNL career. During his treatment for cancer, he remained optimistic about the future and continued working for the benefit of both LLNL and LANL. Bret was deeply committed to the national security of the nation and is admired by all who knew him. He will be sorely missed. Please keep his family in your thoughts.

Los Alamos Director Charles McMillan sent the following message to LANL employees this morning:

It is with deep grief that I inform the Laboratory family of the passing of Bret Knapp. Bret was a leader in national nuclear security and his unparalleled expertise in the weapons program was invaluable in shaping the contributions of both Los Alamos and Livermore to this critical mission.

Bret served in a series of weapons engineering roles at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory for 26 years before joining Los Alamos National Laboratory in 2006 as associate director for Weapons Engineering. He had a far reaching impact not only in the stockpile stewardship program, but in cost efficiencies, programmatic excellence, selection of leaders and open and honest communication that fostered collaboration across the laboratories. His leadership was recognized as he earned progressively more challenging roles in the weapons complex, first as the principal associate director of Weapons Programs at Los Alamos, then as the acting director at Livermore in 2013. Shortly thereafter in the Spring of 2014, he announced the illness to which he succumbed this week.

Bret was my close colleague and friend for more than 30 years and leaves an honored legacy of service to the nation. His loss is overwhelming. We will miss him. As our Laboratory family grieves, our thoughts are also with his family.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Brett Knapp passed away

I was just told that Bret Knapp passed away yesterday.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Plagiarism reported to the Royal Society of Chemistry.

I heard that the same Sandia Livermore authors accused of plagiarism in the Journal of Physical Chemistry have now been reported to the Royal Society of Chemistry.

http://llnlthetruestory.blogspot.com/2014/09/plagiarism-by-sandia.html

Now both the American Chemical Society and the Royal Society of Chemistry have been warned of this ethical behavior. Investigations are underway.

Dismissal case update

My September 2013 dismissal from LLNS Update

In the attempt to resolve concerns with LLNS while employed at LLNS, I requested meetings with the Director long before and after the 2013 DRB decision to dismiss me. The Director declined my offers.

LLNS contested my CA unemployment benefit based on “poor employee conduct”. Therefore my CA unemployment benefit was initially denied. I appealed the decision. Representing myself, I appeared before the CA unemployment benefit appeals Judge. Representing the LLNS side were my 2 former engineering division level managers and their Staff Relations attorney. LLNS management and I provided the Judge with supporting documentation and under oath and audio recorded testimony which I have a copy of. 

On 1-30-14 the unemployment benefit appeals Judge reversed the earlier decision and stated:

“…The employer has not sustained its burden to show that the claimant’s conduct was willful or wanton under the circumstances and therefore has not shown misconduct. Accordingly, the employer discharged the claimant for reasons other than misconduct and the claimant is not disqualified for benefits under code section 1256…”

I filed a DOE 708 complaint against LLNS in January 2014. In response to my complaint, LLNS sent a letter and their support documentation to DOE/NNSA and requested its dismissal in February of 2014. Receiving documentation from both parties, DOE/NNSA accepted my 708 complaint in March 2014. I selected the "investigation followed by a hearing" option. 

After DOE/NNSA accepted my 708 case in March of 2014, I twice offered the Director of LLNS a DOE/NNSA encouraged “informal resolution” to be completely reinstated at LLNS. The informal resolution would have ended the formal DOE OHA investigation followed by a hearing, but my offer was refused in both instances.

My DOE case was dismissed in September of 2014 without a hearing. I appealed the decision to the DOE OHA Director in October of 2014. I may receive a response to my appeal in 30-60 days. 

I believe my case has strong past and present similarities to other DOE "whistleblower" cases. As such, I have asked Tim Murphy, Congressman (PA), Chairman of Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations to determine if material corrections, in his view, have occurred with DOE and the NNSA in response to the Subcommittee’s year 2000 concerns regarding the purported “whistleblower” worker protection/non-retaliation program at DOE facilities Additionally, I have asked the Chair of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations to review the present DOE “Whistleblower” retaliation policy, and if needed, request prompt and measurable actions from DOE/NNSA to address new or chronic problems or material weaknesses identified. 

I wrote to Norman J. Pattiz, Chair of the Committee on Oversight of the DOE Energy Labs, and to Janet Napolitano, University of California President, requesting they investigate, review, and revise the LLNS Dismissal Review Board (DRB) policy and practices at LLNS under the authority defined in University of California “Bylaw 12.6 a-d Committee on Oversight of the Department of Energy Laboratories”. 

On 11-12-14, I was informed by the UC Regents General Counsel that Laboratory Director Bill Goldstein was asked to review and respond to the questions raised in my 11-3-14 memorandum to the UC Regents. 

Applicable to both DOE and LLNS policies and practices, there is a distinction between the merits of a process and the merits of an outcome built on that process. I have requested process review and provided detailed justification to do so.

LANL officials downplayed waste’s dangers

LANL officials downplayed waste’s dangers even after leak

Not a pretty story here.

http://www.santafenewmexican.com/news/local_news/lanl-officials-downplayed-waste-s-dangers-even-after-wipp-leak/article_54d7f3d2-8c99-5793-8c17-c4bdb0b72ef1.html

Friday, November 14, 2014

Another nuclear success story:

Another nuclear success story:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/14/us/politics/pentagon-studies-reveal-major-nuclear-problems.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=first-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0

No bid contract worth 2.4B

Here an article about this form the Washington post. The contractor casino in full swing.


http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/federal-eye/wp/2014/11/12/report-energy-contractor-and-former-lawmaker-lobbied-officials-for-no-bid-contract-worth-2-4-billion-per-year/?tid=hpModule_308f7142-9199-11e2-bdea-e32ad90da239&hpid=z15

SNL got caught by IG

Ruh roh, looks like SNL got caught by IG



Our inspection substantiated the allegation. We found that SNL used Federal contract funds to engage in activities that were intended to influence the extension of Sandia Corporation's contract with the Department—a contract then valued at about $2.4 billion per year. In particular, SNL developed and executed a plan that involved meeting with and attempting to influence Federal and Congressional officials to provide assistance in obtaining a noncompetitive extension of its contract with the Department. We determined that these activities appeared to

have violated United States Code (U.S.C.) and Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) provisions prohibiting the use of Federal funds to influence members of Congress or Federal officials with regard to an extension of a contract. We also concluded that such activities were impermissible under a provision of the Sandia Corporation M&O contract, which prohibits the contractor from making interface with any Federal, state, municipal or local legislators, or legislative personnel for the purpose of obtaining or retaining business for Sandia Corporation.

http://energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2014/11/f19/IG-0927.pdf

LANL chief's compensation tops $1.5M

LANL chief's compensation tops $1.5M
No similar information was available for Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque. A spokesman said pay for officials at Sandia, also run by a ...
 

LANL chief’s compensation tops $1.5M

By 
PUBLISHED: Thursday, November 13, 2014 at 12:05 am
SANTA FE – The annual compensation for Los Alamos National Laboratory director Charles McMillan has topped $1.5 million, federal records show.
That’s up from the $800,348 director’s compensation that the same records showed for 2009 and is nearly three times the LANL chief’s compensation in 2006, the last year the lab was still run by the University of California.
McMILLAN: Los Alamos National Lab director
McMILLAN: Los Alamos National Lab director
The lab has since been run by a private consortium, Los Alamos National Security LLC, that includes the university, the Bechtel corporation and other partners.
Although LANS is a private enterprise, its compensation figures for top lab officials have been made public in the past few years as part of disclosure forms required for recipients of federal stimulus money distributed in the wake of the 2008 economic crash.
What appear to be two of the most recent disclosure forms, 2013 reports on funds awarded in 2009 and 2010, show McMillan’s annual compensation at $1,538,256. The second highest amount was $567,949, for the chief financial officer at the time covered by one of the disclosure forms.
LANL provided this brief statement about McMillan’s compensation: “The amount reported reflects total compensation that includes salary and the change in current value of pension benefits. Not all of the compensation comes directly from taxpayer money, a significant portion comes from the private corporation that manages the Laboratory. Note that the change in pension value is not a salary wage, but a change in the current value of future pension benefits.”
The last time the Journal reported on McMillan’s compensation, also from the stimulus award forms, was in 2012, when the amount was about $1.1 million.
No similar information was available for Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque. A spokesman said pay for officials at Sandia, also run by a private contractor, was proprietary.
In 2012, Sandia provided a statement to the Journal that president Paul Hommert’s total compensation was $1.3 million. That was down from what stimulus disclosure forms showed was $1.7 million for former Sandia president Tom Hunter, whom Hommert replaced in 2010.
Los Alamos lab watchdog Greg Mello of the Los Alamos Study Group, in an email calling attention to McMillan’s compensation, referred to the performance-based fee adjustments that LANS receives based on evaluating how it met standards set by the federal government.
“So the performance-based bonus system is working just fine, right?” Mello wrote. “It really helped with LANL’s performance vis-a-vis WIPP, didn’t it?”
The lab has come under fire after a radioactive waste drum packaged at Los Alamos popped open and contaminated the Waste Isolation Pilot Project, the nation’s underground nuclear waste repository near Carlsbad, earlier this year.
WIPP has been closed since. The cause of the chemical reaction that caused the breach in the LANL waste drum is still under investigation.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Aging nuclear arsenal grows ever more costly

Aging nuclear arsenal grows ever more costly

By Ralph Vartabedian, W.J. Hennigan 
LA Times
Nov 8, 2014

Pipes, tanks and other equipment rust in the humid Southern air. Leaky roofs leave puddles on factory floors. Abandoned buildings are scattered across an 800-acre site contaminated with hundreds of tons of mercury.

If this were a factory making cars in Detroit or steel in Pennsylvania, it would have long ago been shuttered...

..At its root, it is bloated and mismanaged, say former Energy Department officials, outside experts and members of Congress.

The nation's nuclear weapons stockpile has shrunk by 85% since its Cold War peak half a century ago, but the Energy Department is spending nine times more on each weapon that remains. The nuclear arsenal will cost $8.3 billion this fiscal year, up 30% over the last decade.

The source of some of those costs: skyrocketing profits for contractors, increased security costs for vulnerable facilities and massive investments in projects that were later canceled or postponed.

"We are not getting enough for what we are spending, and we are spending more than what we need," said Roger Logan, a senior nuclear scientist who retired in 2007 from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. "The whole system has failed us."...

Now the Obama administration is moving forward with a plan to modernize the strategic weapons system over the next decade, an effort the Congressional Budget Office estimates will cost $355 billion. ...

"Simply stated, there is no plan for success with available resources," said Norman Augustine, a former Pentagon and defense industry official who is leading a review of the Energy Department's bomb program. ...

When the U.S. stockpile reached its peak in 1967 with 31,255 warheads and bombs, it cost $7 billion annually in today's dollars to build and maintain nuclear weapons.

In that year, the government had seven reactors humming to make plutonium; it built submarine reactors, refined large quantities of plutonium and uranium and manufactured new weapons. Almost once a week, it set off a bomb underground in Nevada.

Today, it does none of those things, but simply maintains the existing 4,804 weapons at $1.3 billion more than in 1967. ...

Don Cook, chief of the nation's nuclear weapons program for the Energy Department, argued that the size of the stockpile doesn't matter, because the facilities still have to have capability and special machines to repair even small numbers of weapons.

Profits paid to the contractors that run the system have tripled since 2006 to $312 million, The Times found.

The eight major nuclear weapon labs and production sites are run by a network of joint ventures and private companies, including the University of California, Bechtel Corp., Northrop Grumman Corp., Honeywell International Inc. and Lockheed Martin Corp.

Cook said the agency knew it would have to pay more to attract top-tier defense contractors. "Part of the deal was profit," he said.

As a result, profits paid to the new consortium hired to run the Los Alamos lab jumped tenfold to $59 million in 2013. At Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, which is now run by the University of California and San Francisco-based Bechtel, among others, profits grew from $4 million to $41 million.

Full article is at 

http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-nukes-cost-20141109-story.html#page=1

Monday, November 10, 2014

Lab management will never go back to a university

Lab management will never go back to a university

To argue otherwise is to ignore the reality of how government operates.


"Profits paid to the contractors that run the system have tripled since 2006 to $312 million, The Times found.

The eight major nuclear weapon labs and production sites are run by a network of joint ventures and private companies, including the University of California, Bechtel Corp., Northrop Grumman Corp., Honeywell International Inc. and Lockheed Martin Corp.

The increases came after a series of embarrassing security lapses at Los Alamos National Laboratory while it was managed by the University of California."


http://touch.latimes.com/#section/-1/article/p2p-81913379/

Omar Hurricane

Now you can pay $32 to see the great Omar Hurricane take credit for producing 1% of the predicted yield on NIF.

http://www.independentnews.com/news/article_b78c025c-65e4-11e4-9088-f3c8a7bc80af.html

Foundation of US nuclear system showing cracks

Long article but to the point...

Foundation of US nuclear system showing cracks

By ROBERT BURNS - AP


WASHINGTON (AP) — The foundation of America's nuclear arsenal is fractured, and the government has no clear plan to repair it.

The cracks appear not just in the military forces equipped with nuclear weapons but also in the civilian bureaucracy that controls them, justifies their cost, plans their future and is responsible for explaining a defense policy that says nuclear weapons are at once essential and excessive.

It's not clear that the government recognizes the full scope of the problem, which has wormed its way to the core of the nuclear weapons business without disturbing bureaucracies fixated on defending their own turf. Nor has it aroused the public, which may think nuclear weapons are relics of the past, if it thinks about them at all.

This is not mainly about the safety of today's weapons, although the Air Force's ...

Rather, this is about a broader problem: The erosion of the government's ability to manage and sustain its nuclear "enterprise," the intricate network of machines, brains and organizations that enables America to call itself a nuclear superpower.

What have been slipping are certain key building blocks — technical expertise, modern facilities and executive oversight on the civilian side, and discipline, morale and accountability on the military side.

The shortfalls are compounded by tight budgets and what experts call a decline in political support for the nuclear system. In the absence of a headline-grabbing nuclear accident in recent decades and receding fears of nuclear war, these problems generally are paid little heed.

The scientific and military capability is arguably the best in the world, but its underpinnings have weakened gradually.

The White House and Congress have paid little attention, allowing the responsible government agencies to "muddle through," according to a congressional advisory panel. This is the case despite the fact that the U.S. still has thousands of nuclear weapons — more than it says it needs — and is approaching decision points on investing enormous sums to keep the arsenal viable for future generations.

"This lack of attention has resulted in public confusion, congressional distrust and a serious erosion of advocacy, expertise and proficiency in the sustainment" of the nation's nuclear weapons capabilities, the panel on "Governance of the Nuclear Security Enterprise" said in a report in April that is expected to be updated soon.

The panel was led by retired Adm. Richard Mies, a former commander of U.S. Strategic Command, in charge of all U.S. nuclear forces, and Norman Augustine, a retired chairman of Lockheed Martin Corp.

Nuclear weapons, the panel said, have been "orphaned" by Washington. Although today's weapons are technologically sound, "there is no affordable, executable (government) vision, plan or program for the future of nuclear weapons capabilities." ...

***

The rest is at

http://news.yahoo.com/foundation-us-nuclear-system-showing-cracks-131405128.html

Executive Order --Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces

Executive Order --Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces

"...Section 1. Policy. This order seeks to increase efficiency and cost savings in the work performed by parties who contract with the Federal Government by ensuring that they understand and comply with labor laws. 

Labor laws are designed to promote safe, healthy, fair, and effective workplaces. Contractors that consistently adhere to labor laws are more likely to have workplace practices that enhance productivity and increase the likelihood of timely, predictable, and satisfactory delivery of goods and services to the Federal Government. 

Helping executive departments and agencies (agencies) to identify and work with contractors with track records of compliance will reduce execution delays and avoid distractions and complications that arise from contracting with contractors with track records of noncompliance..."

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/07/31/executive-order-fair-pay-and-safe-workplaces

New federal labor law enforcement on the horizon for LANS & LLNS?

New federal labor law enforcement on the horizon for LANS & LLNS?


"...Feds’ double standard on discrimination between private firms and federal agencies

Government contractors could face a financial death sentence over labor law, civil-rights law, or wage-and-hour law violations under a recent Obama executive order I discussed earlier, EO #13,673..."

http://libertyunyielding.com/2014/09/05/feds-exploit-double-standard-discrimination-private-sector-government-agencies/

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Future of Yucca Mountain

This is a fine article that explores the future of the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository, now that Harry Reid is no longer Senate leader.




-- 
Janice Sinclaire
Internet Outreach Coordinator

Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
1155 East 60th Street
Chicago, IL  60637
U.S.A.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Lab managers

Lab managers will ALWAYS protect themselves. If you disagree with their incompetence. YOU will be persecuted. Guaranteed!

Transferring LLNS TCP1 Retirement Funds back to UC?

Transferring LLNS TCP1 Retirement Funds back to UC? 

What would be legally involved to transfer LLNS managed TCP1 retirement funds for interested individuals back to UC? DOE/NNSA approval and a minimum of 1 full day employment with UC? Pros and Cons?

Note from Doobydew:   ??????

Air Force fired two commanders and disciplined a third

Adding to signs of distress in the nuclear force, the Air Force fired two commanders and disciplined a third in response to internal investigations of leadership lapses and misbehavior at two of its three intercontinental ballistic missile bases.

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/11/04/air-force-fires-2-more-nuclear-missile-corps-commanders-disciplines-another

Monday, November 3, 2014

Sandia Retraction:

Sandia Retraction:

“Inconsistent errors” and unknowing authors force retraction of microbiology paper

http://retractionwatch.com/2014/02/25/inconsistent-errors-and-unknowing-authors-force-retraction-of-microbiology-paper/

He is still at Sandia Livermore:

https://www.linkedin.com/pub/weihua-wu/1b/442/a49

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

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