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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 jlscoob5@gmail.com

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Justice for All Requires A Contract for All By SPSE-UPTE Stewards

Justice for All Requires A Contract for All
By SPSE-UPTE Stewards
 
In addition to guaranteed wage increases and the provisions for enhanced safety and job security, the new Skilled Trades employment contract retains an important provision: all the due process rights and the “just cause” standard for discipline that all Lab employees once enjoyed as UC employees prior to the transition to private company management of the Lab in 2007.
 
The consequence of the loss of the “just cause” standard was recently highlighted for us in the decision in a grievance arbitration we handled for a non-skilled trades SPSE-UPTE member. In his written decision in this case the Arbitrator said the following:
 
The problem with those arguments (the union arguments) is that each of them is   applicable only where the standard against which to measure the disputed disciplinary action is ‘just cause’ or a similar standard. While each of these Union-argued elements may well have had varying degrees of merit when measured against the ‘just cause’ standard, and particularly so concerning whether the Laboratory has met all of the requirements for a finding of ‘insubordination’, they are simply not applicable where, as here, the standard which the arbitrator must apply is ‘unlawful discrimination, harassment or retaliation.’ Put simply, there is nothing ‘unlawful’ in the Laboratory’s actions here.
 
Likewise, the concept of progressive discipline argued as not followed by the Union is a concept arising within the above-described ambit of ‘just cause’ or a similar standard. The arbitrator has reviewed pertinent sections of the Laboratory’s Personnel Policies Manual, and can find no mention of that concept in those materials. Were this a ‘just cause’ matter, that element of the Union’s argument might well have at least some merit, in that this Arbitrator has in his prior ‘just cause’ cases generally been an advocate of the positive elements of progressive discipline.
 
In short, for those of us without a union contract that embodies the “just cause” standard, the Laboratory is free to treat us unjustly, as long as the treatment is not demonstrably illegal.
 
Since managers can treat employees unjustly, many will continue to do so, taking full advantage of the extra latitude private sector law gives them in dealing with non-unionized workers. Employees without a union contract have no say in the policies and procedures that govern their working environment, and every change that LLNS management has made to the employee conduct and formal complaint policies has left non-union employees with fewer and fewer ways to challenge unjust treatment.
 
SPSE-UPTE believes that an injustice to one is an injustice to all. The ultimate fix to workplace injustice is for everyone to be covered by a union contract. In the meantime, just being a dues-paying member of SPSE-UPTE, even one who is not covered by a contract, gives you some protection, since all our members have access to trained stewards to help them navigate the Lab’s labyrinthine formal complaint resolution process to address workplace issues. Many members find that this benefit alone is worth the modest price of membership. They understand that it makes no sense to wait until the house is on fire before going out to shop for homeowner’s insurance, and that preserving one’s job is as important as saving one’s house.

42 comments:

Anonymous said...

"...for those of us without a union contract that embodies the “just cause” standard, the Laboratory is free to treat us unjustly, as long as the treatment is not demonstrably illegal..."

"...every change that LLNS management has made to the employee conduct and formal complaint policies has left non-union employees with fewer and fewer ways to challenge unjust treatment..."

According to the blog topic "DOE "Whistleblower" Bias?", "demonstrably illegal" or demonstrably retaliatory actions by LLNS management can be effectively concealed by the use of the Dismissal Review Board (DRB) process. The DRB is a LLNS defined "tool for senior management", which serves to circumvent exposure and liability to "causal links" (cause and effect) between DOE "protected disclosures" and subsequent management retaliation against employees. By extension, the LLNS secret DRB process can undermine other complaint avenues available to employees to address "unjust treatment" from LLNS management.

see blog topic "DOE "Whistleblower" Bias"/ "10-29-14 at 7:18am" comment

http://llnlthetruestory.blogspot.com/2014/10/doe-whistleblower-bias.html

Anonymous said...

"...for those of us without a union contract that embodies the “just cause” standard, the Laboratory is free to treat us unjustly..."

March 1, 2015 at 11:23 AM

And you are free to go work for someone who doesn't treat you that way. Unions are for wusses and crybabies.

Anonymous said...

Unions are for wusses and crybabies.


Yes, the bloody unions gave us vacations and sick leave. Clearly something for wussies and cry babies.

Who needs good salaries, decent health care, and time off when we can slave away.

Anonymous said...

Those employees you refer to as "wusses and crybabies", over the years forged a path for an improved work environment at LLNL, including your work environment. Perhaps you are unaware of this or are relatively new to LLNL.

Anonymous said...

I need more, I want more, I deserve more, its by all rights mine anyway so give it all to me the have dumb a## tax payer pays for it. Remember 2015.75 when the bond market crashes is just around the corner. Give me another .25 cents so I can be happy.

POS

Anonymous said...

Unions gave you vacations, sick leave, 40 hour work week, medical care, overtime, and a means for holding corporate America accountable. Which is needed every bit as much these days as it was 100 years ago.

Go back and read your history books before trashing unions.

And then get a brain and join one.

Anonymous said...

Why is it that everyone in favor of unions points out what they did for laborers a century ago, that is now codified in US labor laws? Why is it that no one wants to discuss the misuse of union dues to support political agendas that union members don't agree with? Why is it that no one points out that less than 10% of the private work force and less than 25% of the public work force is currently unionized and no one really cares? Why is it that no one points out that the NLRB allows unions to negotiate deals with management that do not apply to non-union members in the same workplace? Why is it that no one points out that non-unionized workers currently get better pay, better benefits, and better working conditions than unionized workers? Why is it that no one points out that union workers overall have lower education, less advancement opportunity, and lower salary than comparable non-union workers? Unions are an anachronism (for union workers: A "dinosaur") that only exist today for the betterment of union bosses, and to counter the fear of less-than-qualified employees who don't want to have to work as hard as their coworkers.

I worked in a union shop in college; every day at break time, when I wanted to complete a task before I took a break, I was told "don't kill the job." Great career philosophy.

Anonymous said...

This is too complex of a topic for a blog.

Anonymous said...

"...Why is it that everyone in favor of unions points out what they did for laborers a century ago..."

LANSLLNS has not operated in manner to make SPSE-UPTE less important. If one reads available SPSE-UPTE documents, one will learn they provide a valuable resource to lab employees including non-members, above and beyond your negative general union and union member characterizations.

Unions exist in companies within the:

1. public sector
2. traditional private sector
3. *hybrid private sector

*Unlike traditional private sector companies, hybrid private sector companies like LANSLLNS, do not have
prompt business decision feedback from the private sector for actions that would normally take a traditional private sector company into bankruptcy. Instead, hybrid private sector companies heavily rely on Federal funding, where expected performance is given "great latitude". As such, these hybrid private sector companies can operate and survive year after year with failed business models, huge overhead costs, and multifaceted low employee morale.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like the "less-than-qualified" and those that "don't want to have to work as hard" descriptions apply well to hybrid private sector management like that of LANSLLNS.
A case of "the pot calling the kettle black".

Anonymous said...

A case of "the pot calling the kettle black".

March 2, 2015 at 11:13 AM

Only if you think that management made the anti-union comments. You would be wrong. There is a reason unions have been losing membership steadily over the past 30 or 40 years. They no longer exist, nor are they necessary, in most high-tech, merit-based organizations. As stated, they now exist solely for the benefit of union bosses, who use dues to curry political favor, for themselves.

Anonymous said...

"...They no longer exist, nor are they necessary, in most high-tech, merit-based organizations..."

You totally missed the hybrid private sector points, and "merit-based" no longer has the same meaning at LLNL
or LANL under LANSLLNS management.

Anonymous said...

So why try to unionize LANS/LLNS rather than going to work somewhere where it isn't necessary? Why continue to support a disfunctional, toxic, soul-sucking bureaucracy? Obviously, dead-end employees who fear (rightly) their managers and have no other professional options, or are too fearful to take them, will seek whatever protection they can get. Your union bosses will be only too happy to take your dues and use them for their own political aggrandizement. It's a guarantee of perpetual mediocrity, as shown all over the country in public employee union situations. I feel sorry for you.

Anonymous said...

"...Obviously, dead-end employees who fear (rightly) their managers and have no other professional options, or are too fearful to take them, will seek whatever protection they can get..."

Actually it is LANSLLNS managers or their want-to-be cheerleaders that are fearful to be measured by real R&D accomplishments, especially those with no degree or particular skill set. These employees can be manipulated deluxe. I feel sorry for them.

Anonymous said...

LANS and LLNS would be in deep trouble with NNSA if unions ever got a strong hold on the NNSA research labs. While the federal government may talk about supporting unions, in truth they don't want them anywhere near their facilities.

If you trust management to fight for you when it comes to your benefits, salary and job ratings then you having nothing to worry about and don't need union support. However, if you don't trust LANS or LLNS management to be a fighter on your side, then you want a strong union to represent you at the negotiation table. History has shown that workers represented by unions do much better at getting fair treatment by management.

If your management has taken up a hostile "us vs. them" attitude toward the workforce, then don't you want a strong voice on the "them" side?

Anonymous said...

If your management has taken up a hostile "us vs. them" attitude toward the workforce, then don't you want a strong voice on the "them" side?

March 2, 2015 at 5:20 PM

Your "strong voice" should be your extreme value to management as an employee. If you don't have that, then either you are a low-accomplishing employee who will be in trouble anywhere, or you are a high-value employee who is not appreciated, with opportunities elsewhere, so why work there? Why is no one willing to address the fact that it is the low-value employees that most need union "protection"?

Anonymous said...

"...Why is no one willing to address the fact that it is the low-value employees that most need union "protection"?..."

Because it is not true. Your assertion is the Contractor is never in the wrong, therefore the employee must be subpar. It is a common management tactic to immediately discredit and vilify any and all employees that elect to raise an issue. This is common knowledge.

"You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life".
- Winston Churchill

Anonymous said...

Your assertion is the Contractor is never in the wrong, therefore the employee must be subpar.

March 2, 2015 at 8:15 PM

Not at all. My assertion is that regardless of the contractor's merits or otherwise, if employees are not "subpar," then if they feel put-upon, they have alternatives that preserve their self-respect and professional standing that will allow them the option to simply leave and find good employment elsewhere without subverting themselves to the "governance" of a union. It is a simple concept, that pro-union people seem never able to admit or realize. If you are a competent, experienced professional, you have no need of union "protection." You have mobility and, hopefully, self-respect.

Anonymous said...

"...if employees are not "subpar," then if they feel put-upon, they have alternatives that preserve their self-respect and professional standing that will allow them the option to simply leave and find good employment elsewhere..."

Sounds simple enough, but when applied it doesn't always make sense or demonstrate empathy for our fellow coworkers. For example, one wouldn't advise a women that was a victim of sexual harassment in the workplace to "leave and find good employment elsewhere" as the exclusive solution to address the problem. Furthermore, such a plan may simply enable additional workplace sexual harassment acts without consequence. There are times when addressing a problem straight up is the right thing to do union or not. To do so doesn't mean the person raising the concern has no self-respect or will somehow lower their professional standing by coming forward.

Anonymous said...

It still doesn't look favorable for a Union. Unfortunately, there is strong opposition at the Labs by two strong coalitions: 1. Management 2. Those that Management coddles. Until one of those coalitions changes their opposition (not likely Management) the strong opposition will remain, simple as that. It was disappointing that when the Labs went "profit" the Lab workers sat idle losing benefits, pay, freedom of speech, etc. with absolutely NO REPRESENTATION.

Anonymous said...

one wouldn't advise a women that was a victim of sexual harassment in the workplace to "leave and find good employment elsewhere" as the exclusive solution to address the problem.

March 2, 2015 at 10:36 PM

Um, there are laws against sexual harassment. If you believe that only a union can protect you from unlawful behavior on the part of your employer, then who protects you when you are away from the job?

Anonymous said...

Those that Management coddles.

March 3, 2015 at 2:49 AM

So all those competent, experienced, valuable employees who don't need or want unions are "coddled" by management? I would say they are rewarded by management for their performance, as it should be. And as you would be too, if you cared to perform.

Anonymous said...

Agree with 9:58. Unions protect those who underperform, lumping them with those who actually deserve raises and promotions.

Anonymous said...

"...So all those competent, experienced, valuable employees who don't need or want unions are "coddled" by management? I would say they are rewarded by management for their performance, as it should be. And as you would be too, if you cared to perform..."

There is not one recipe for success as described above. There are low performers that are under the wing of management and thus rewarded anyway. Some of whom are managers themselves and have little to no valuable SKAs who are under the wing of their managers, or are "in tow" upward as their superiors move up.

Anonymous said...

There are many "cliques" at the lab that need not follow the "perform and be rewarded" path.

Anonymous said...

Yeah yeah. Obviously it is someone else's fault. Never your own, never accept personal responsibility for your plight. Always blame someone else for your failure to make your professional (personal?) life a success. Whose responsibility was it to make that happen anyway??

Anonymous said...

"...Yeah yeah. Obviously it is someone else's fault. Never your own, never accept personal responsibility for your plight. Always blame someone else for your failure to make your professional (personal?) life a success. Whose responsibility was it to make that happen anyway??..."

A little heavy don't you think? Raw nerve? The observations were a little too close for you to digest maybe?

Anonymous said...

The observations were a little too close for you to digest maybe?

March 3, 2015 at 7:45 PM

No, the "observations" were not close at all to any reality. The question stands: Whose responsibility is it to make your professional (or personal) life a success? Answer truthfully.

Anonymous said...

"...No, the "observations" were not close at all to any reality..."

Not close to any reality? Who isn't being truthful? There are numerous examples of lab managers and lab employees lacking appropriate college credentials or without material SKAs "lumped in" with contributors and doing just fine here.

Your formula book for success has merit, but it has a few chapters missing. On occasion, employees may need resources to address workplace issues.

The best thing we can do is to continually refine our employment practices, work environment, etc., to make the need for those resources a rare occurrence. Which way are we trending with LANSLLNS? Answer truthfully.

Anonymous said...

There are numerous examples of lab managers and lab employees lacking appropriate college credentials or without material SKAs

You do not excuse your own bad behavior by pointing to others' bad behavior. Unions tend to protect everyone they suck up dues from, from underperformance. Fix that, and you fix the need for unions. Not to mention, you didn't answer March 3, 2015 at 8:19 PM's question: Whose responsibility is it to make your professional (or personal) life a success?

Anonymous said...

My responses are not limited to the use of unions, they are however an important part of the resources available to lab employees.

Never stated behavior was "bad'. This was an
anti-union, pro-LANSLLNS management response
floated in the attempt to universally discredit any
employee seeking a lab resource for assistance.

Many accomplished individuals materially supporting lab programs have earned their success, not success measured by mere political appointment. On occasion for concerns raised in the workplace, these individuals have elected to seek out union support, HR, Staff Relations, DOL, or other employee resources as needed. By taking such steps these people, your coworkers, are "taking responsibility for making their professional career a success". Sorry your trap question didn't work, but you have unintentionally, made a good point. Sometimes individuals must take direct ownership of workplace issues and attempt to resolve them to make their professional career a continued success. Thanks this point was missing.

Your universal assertion that all lab employees seeking assistance are "under performers" is false. In regard to steps needed to reduce the future need of employee resources to address workplace concerns, you dodged the important question below:

"Which way are we trending with LANSLLNS? Answer truthfully."

Anonymous said...

The trend line at LLNL post 2007 under LLNS management:

1. Questionable employment practices have increased

2. Employee morale is lower across the board

3. Employment benefits have eroded

4. Manager-Employee relations are increasingly polarized

5. Staff Relations, under new management, has become increasingly hostile to employees

6. Programatic efficiency is lower

7. DOE/NNSA recognize a new Contractor business model is needed at LLNL and LANL

8. The DOE IG is busy investigating concerns raised

What about the LANL trend line under LANS management for 1-8 above?

Some will assert that any employee raising concerns related to 1-8 above, must be "poor performers" that don't want to recognize their own failures. Would that include Senior HQ DOE and Senior HQ NNSA Managers you think?

Anonymous said...

These are all of no concern to employees who have carried out their assigned jobs competently and have been rewarded for doing so. For the whiners, complainers, and incompetents, it is all they have to talk about.

Anonymous said...

"...For the whiners, complainers, and incompetents, it is all they have to talk about..."

Yes it is the LLNS "whiners" that created the 1-8 trend line above, and of course it is the LANS "whiners" that created out of thin air the Beth Sellers Deputy Director scandal, and the WIPP mess. Clearly the business operations at LANS are stellar. The LANS 90% award fee haircut is just another "whiner" imaginary construct.

You offer a typical LANSLLNS top-down response in that all issues are the fault of subpar worker bees, where management never has ownership. Answering truthfully is not your thing or its just not your objective.

Anonymous said...

March 5, 2015 at 7:27 AM

Yes!

Anonymous said...

"You offer a typical LANSLLNS top-down response in that all issues are the fault of subpar worker bees, where management never has ownership. Answering truthfully is not your thing or its just not your objective.

March 5, 2015 at 7:27 AM"

Before you bash management you have to remember that we have a very ingrained culture at the labs. Cultures are the hardest thing in the world to change We are talking about up to 50-60 years of pure neglect where the workforce was allowed to run uncontrolled. It will take many years until this culture is cleaned up and you don't change horses in midstream. Is management perfect...no, however our management doing a heroic effort under the constraints of huge cultural problems, all the while still trying to deal with DOE, NNSA, Federal and State rules. Being a manager at the NNSA labs is very hard, demanding, and a unrewarding job. They are hard working, ethical people that have made huge sacrifices for an ungrateful workforce that is often at odds with the strategic leadership. When things go wrong it is the managers that take the brunt of the punishment even when they had nothing to do with it. This goes with the territory and they can take what you can dish out but just keep these thing in mind.

Anonymous said...

March 7, 2015 at 11:16 AM

HAHAHAHAHA!!! Good one! You've got the paternal, condescending, scolding tone just right, and the slight hint of long-suffering sacrifice is perfect! A true master of fine-crafted irony and understated, yet devastating, sarcasm. Bravo!

Anonymous said...

"...They are hard working, ethical people that have made huge sacrifices for an ungrateful workforce that is often at odds with the strategic leadership..."

True, most lab managers are indeed ethical people. Unfortunately most managers remain in "good standing" or are "promotion material" by near absolute allegiance to their fellow managers, a fraction of whom are clearly not ethical. That is how the "strategic leadership" boat floats, and the transition to LANSLLNS has made the "good old boy" culture here an order of magnitude worse.

Yes ethical managers can have "unrewarding" or stressful careers and increasingly so over time. There is a difference however, between not meeting a programatic deliverable type "stress", and onlooking while an employee is not worked with in good faith "stress". The former being a sincere effort, and the latter being something to rationalize or validate.

"... When things go wrong managers take the brunt of the punishment.."? No the employees get the worst of it and they are usually cross-threaded with management for the rest of their careers if not fired. On the other hand, involved managers will rapidly recover and move up the career ladder with handsome salaries along the way. The only exception is if the manager's conduct was so demonstrable that senior management (or higher senior management) is forced to act. In such cases the manager in question is ushered out with kindness and with preservation of his or her reputation as best possible. At least before the DOE IG comes knocking.

Anonymous said...

I just knew some clueless person would insist on taking March 7, 2015 at 11:16 AM seriously. Now he's laughing his ass off at your gullibility. Damn.

Anonymous said...

"...I just knew some clueless person would insist on taking March 7, 2015 at 11:16 AM seriously. Now he's laughing his ass off at your gullibility. Damn..."

Not much for lucid and sincere exchanges? FYI: I think the response to 11:16am was for the benefit of others, most of which are not "clueless". Thinking requires more effort than you may care to apply.

Anonymous said...

Thinking requires more effort than you may care to apply.

March 7, 2015 at 3:07 PM

Not thinking requires no effort at all. Which is the amount of effort it requires to regurgitate talking points. Yawn. To spend time thinking in response to a satirical post is the ultimate waste of time. The inability to recognize sophisticated and subtle humor is perhaps the most glaring shortcoming of most scientists. Arrested development.

Anonymous said...

The sad truth is that 11:16 actually believes what he is saying.

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