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Sunday, March 1, 2015

SPSE-UPTE's New Skilled Trades Contract Promotes Run to Succeed

360 Performance Review
A series of constructive critiques of LLNS and SPSE-UPTE 
SPSE-UPTE's New Skilled Trades Contract Promotes Run to Succeed 
By William Smith, President SPSE-UPTE
Society of Professionals, Scientists and Engineers of the University Professional & Technical Employees (SPSE-UPTE’s) Skilled Trades Unit and LLNS (Lawrence Livermore National Security) management have agreed on a new contract that runs from January of 2015 until December of 2019. Provisions in the contract slow, and may even reverse, the steady erosion of take home pay and other benefits, especially retirement benefits. Other provisions create a safer and more productive work environment.
General provisions in the contract promote better working conditions for all LLNS employees, including protection of take home pay. Our Skilled Trades employees have the right to bargain the effect of increases to employee pension contributions, reductions in 401K matching funds and other decreases in benefits. To maintain uniform benefits across LLNL (Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory), LLNS management may agree to extend to all employees any offsetting gains negotiated by SPSE-UPTE’s Skilled Trades Unit.
The contract also locks in other benefits. These benefits include paid holidays, vacation and sick leave accrual rates, and shift, holiday and on-call differential rates. 
After nearly a decade during which LLNS has aggressively deferred maintenance to reduce operating costs, the contract puts in place procedures and requirements to moderate this policy and advance SPSE-UPTE’s Run to Succeed campaign. Deferred maintenance, as we have pointed out in previous articles [see Monthly Memos of April and December 2014], has reduced our ability to support world-class science and engineering. Under the new contract, our Skilled Trades workers spend more time maintaining facilities and equipment and less time with the paper work and other duties associated with non-technical aspects of monitoring the adherence of subcontractors to federal, state, Department of Energy and LLNS health and safety regulations.
Our work place will be safer as provisions in the contract lower the risk of work place accidents. New limits on mandatory overtime enable workers to get adequate rest. An expansion of the SPSE-UPTE / LLNS Joint Management Safety Committee will provide workers more opportunities to share their knowledge of work place hazards and to address them directly with a broader cross-section of management. Better procedures for the locking and tagging out of hazardous equipment is an example of a simple safety improvement that is surprisingly complex to implement and is best addressed by the expanded joint committee.
Cost of living raises throughout the contract term and prevailing wages mandated by the Davis Bacon Act will reverse the erosion of take-home pay for some Skilled Trades Unit members and slow the erosion for others.
Our Skilled Trades Unit contract encourages LLNS management to maintain current levels of benefits for all employees. You can support our effort to maintain take-home-pay and benefits for SPSE-UPTE members and non-members alike by joining us. To join, contact either SPSE-UPTE office manager at, SPSE-UPTE President William Smith at either, or 925/422-6378, or download a membership form from our website at

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