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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

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Contract Right to Health Benefits Found by Judge

Courthouse News Service              Wednesday, December 09, 2015              Last Update: 3:20 PM PT


Contract Right to Health Benefits Found by Judge

By SEAN DUFFY

(CN) - An Alameda County judge ruled Tuesday that retirees of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory were University of California employees entitled to the system's health care plan.
The decision by Judge George Hernandez Jr. marks the first time that a contractual right to benefits for California public employees has been recognized.
"The legal issue is whether the employees have a legal right to have health care through the university, or can the university change it as it likes," Dov Grunschlag, who represented the retirees, said. "The judge has found this contractual right on the part of public employees for the first time."
Hernandez ruled that the UC Regents and the retirees had a mutual understanding over the nature of their health care plans, which were a component of compensation, and not merely a gift.
"The university and petitioners reasonably understood that the university offered employee benefits, including retiree health coverage, to prospective and existing employees in exchange for their agreement to accept and remain in employment with the university," Hernandez said in his statement of decision.
Employees at the laboratory were originally offered health care from Lawrence Livermore National Security LLC, after it assumed management of the lab in 2007 from the UC system. However, the plans offered were more expensive than what the UC system offered, and the laboratory did not have the same established track record.
These factors concerned retirees of the lab - who were UC employees when the system ran the lab - and eventually led to a class action against the UC system earlier this year.
"They were concerned that the laboratory may change things since there was no contract with them," Grunschlag said in a phone interview. "They could make any number of changes to what they have now, which was worse than what UC offers its employees."
In a separately filed order, Hernandez found that the regents were legally authorized to enter into contracts governing employment relations with the laboratory employees when it ran the lab. He also held that the regents took action that "clearly evinced a legislative intent to create private rights of a contractual nature enforceable against the regents," the order said.
It is unclear at this time whether the UC regents will appeal.
Grunschlag is a partner at the San Francisco-based law firm Carter, Carter, Fries & Grunschlag.
 

Comment:
Anonymous Anonymous said...
All of us that froze our UC retirement and retired later under UC after the contract change should band together and fight for the same rights.

35 comments:

Anonymous said...

Will this apply to Los Alamos UC Retirees as well?

Anonymous said...

Yes I agree with the comment that those who froze their UC retirement should be allowed to fight for their right to join the UC benefits.

Anonymous said...

Look, you are disadvantaged as a Lab or UC retiree anyway when you turn 65. This lawsuit and debate is stupid. Both UC and LLNS mandate that you take Medicare which costs the average retiree much more than either UC or LLNS medical plan benefits when they were active employees (at any age).

The typical Medicare cost is $183.20/person starting in 2016 for a Lab retiree (same for spouse). This in addition to the $205/person for a Medicare Advantage Plan. The UC/LLNS retirement fund kicks in $200/person to defray some of these costs.

The real disadvantaged retirees are those that where foolish enough to NOT pay into Medicare before this was disallowed sometime in the late '70's. They have to pay full health insurance costs through Covered CA.

Anonymous said...

Not sure whether non-Medicare retirees over 65 get the $200/person subsidy ?
Anyway they should not get any more !

Anonymous said...

December 10 @ 8:06 PM states the lawsuit was stupid. While it is true that at age 65 UC and LLNS force you to APPLY for Medicare, you may not be covered. Were they foolish not to voluntarily pay into Medicare? You would say yes with 20/20 hindsight. At the time of the 1977 switch in the RETIREMENT plan human resources stated that unless you already had quarters and were close to retirment, they advised not to switch to the new plan that the UC retirement was better. Nothing was said about medical. And until the switch to LLNS many, and I include myself, thought that the retirement medical would be covered by UC. And that thought and implied promises by UC has resulted in a judgement for the retirees.

In 1977 the lab had been run by UC for over 20 years. It would continue to do so for another 30 years - past performance is not a guarantee for future but anyone's crystal ball would have not predicted the upheaval that has beset the labs. I think the word naive would be better than foolish. And just for argument's sake, was there a method to start paying into Medicare, but not Social Security? That option was never presented as far as I recall and I'll argue that human resources would not have touted such an idea, we were UC employees, or so we thought.

Anonymous said...

December 10, 2015 at 5:03 PM: I agree.

I contacted the retiree defense fund and their attorneys to see if I was part of the "class." When LLNS took over the contract, I retired under UC that day (Oct. 1, 2007). According to the attorneys, this mattered and I am NOT a member of the class because I didn't retire while UC held the contract (1 day earlier). I still don't understand why it would matter, one day or frozen for months or years before UC retirement. I was a UC employee for 20 years, retired under UCRP (although did work for LLNS for a few months), and my health care benefits, earned under UC just like those afforded other UC retirees, are coordinated under LLNS while my retirement income is paid by UCRP. Of course, I pay much higher premiums than retirees from "other" UC campuses and always have since LLNS took over (and I am still not old enough for Medicare). It doesn't matter a lick to me when I retired under UC, I AM a UC retiree, and I feel like I am being excluded for no good reason: I retired under UC (regardless of who I worked for after that), and my retirement health benefits should be the same as ALL OTHER UC RETIREES, just like it should be for other UC retirees who froze their UC retirement when LLNS took over. I've been paying more for coverage for years. Does anyone know how people in my position can get in on the class action? Or am I mistaken?

Anonymous said...

Sorry, to be fair, the attorney told me that I might not be a part of the class. He said that those who retired in September 2007 or before were definitely in the class, but there was a question regarding those who retired in October (or presumably later).

Anonymous said...

UC/LLNL employees meeting the UC/LLNL defined medical in retirement years of service criteria for 100% coverage in 2007 but were too young to retire prior to the contract change to LLNS were impacted too. These Lab employees also "had a mutual understanding over the nature of their health care plans, which were a component of compensation, and not merely a gift", just as the pre-2007 UC/LLNL retirees did. The same is true for 100% medical coverage eligible UC/LANL employees in 2006. What choice TCP1 or TCP2 would have preserved comparable UC serve credit attained 100% medical coverage eligibility and UC premium levels for those that needed to work longer under LLNS or LANS before retiring? Neither.

Anonymous said...

So, how do I preserve my 100% vested, lifetime medical guarantee? I'm a former UC employee who as too young to retire in 2007.

Anonymous said...

It's completely logical. If you were a vested UC employee at any time when UC had the LLNL contract, when you begin collecting your UCRP retirement pay, you should become eligible for UC retirement medical coverage at the same time, just like for employees at any other UC campuses. Those benefits should be provided and administered by UC, and the premiums you pay should be the same as those paid by other UC retirees. It shouldn't matter that you served at LLNL, it shouldn't matter whether you retired in 2007, 2008 or whenever. I believe, and this judge apparently agrees, that UC, DOE, and LLNL/LLNS pulled a fast one on all of us. No doubt to save money and line their own pockets. But a deal is a deal. We should all get refunds for the amounts we paid in excess of UC medical policy rates over the years, and we should be afforded the opportunity to establish medical insurance (with associated premiums) according to UC plans currently offered to retirees from other campuses. Period.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you December 13, 2015 at 10am. However, where does that leave the pre-2007 100% UCRP vested Lab employees within
the ~ 3,000 that elected TCP1 because it was the advertised substantially equivalent UC pension like package? Many 100% UCRP vested UC/LLNL employees were simply too young to select TCP2 and freeze their UCRP pensions. These employees did not elect to step away from UC/LLNL employment, UC/LLNL employment stepped away from them. For the pre-2007 100% UCRP vested Lab employees, the deal was a deal too.

Anonymous said...

December 13, 2015 at 11:20 AM:

Unfortunately, those who CHOSE to leave the UCRP system and transfer into TCP1 don't have as good a case, in my opinion (but I'm no attorney). As I recall, it was a voluntary decision for them, and they transferred their UCRP balances over, therefore completely divesting themselves from UCRP. To me, that's not much different than those who took a lump-sum from UCRP when they retired. Some might say, once you leave, you have left. And I don't know anything about TCP1. For all I know, it was a wise decision. Maybe not. Nevertheless, the people that took it voluntarily severed ties with UCRP, and that's why I think their case is somewhat weaker. Those that stuck with UCRP, whether they took it right away, or froze it and took it later, ought to be getting the same benefits as those who retired from other campuses.

Anonymous said...

Historically, those that were 100% vested with UCRP for medical but did not activate their UCRP pension within 120 days(?) of their departure from UCRP lost the medical in retirement benefit entirely. Is this correct?

Anonymous said...

However, LLNS administers the medical benefits for pre and post-2007 LLNL retirees. Am I correct ! In both cases when you turn 65 as a retiree you are on Medicare which is not a good deal if you retired with a average 20+ year pension or other income. The problem is for pre-2007 LLNL employees that had elected many years earlier, when the choice was available, to not join the Medicare/Social Security system. They are stuck with the high Covered CA non-Medicare plans.

Anonymous said...

The non-SS paying lab employees will get a PERS "pension" instead yes? If so, does the PERS amount offset the non-Medicare costs and
the solvency concerns with SS?

Anonymous said...

3:22, I wouldn't say that retiring from UCRP with a lump-sum is similar to those who transferred into TCP1. Those who retired and took the lump-sum did so knowing that they forego medical benefits. Those who transferred into TCP1 knew they were in the exact same boat regarding medical benefits as those who took TCP2. It was advertised that medical benefits would be exactly the same, they would come from LLNS, not UCRP. Decisions were based on this, so if they're going to change the rules for TCP2, I think those in TCP1 may have a case. Like you, I'm not an attorney, just wanted to throw in my two cents.

Anonymous said...

The class is basically UC LLNL retirees (and beneficiaries) who were receiving UC retiree medical benefits before the transition to LLNS. These were clearly UC retirees entitled to UC benefits. Those who waited or are still waiting to draw a UC pension are not part of the class. It might not be fair that they were separated from UC service before they could retiree, but that is a different issue. UC LANL retirees are not part of the class. The lawsuit pertains only to class members, is directed against UC and is being heard in Alameda County Superior Court (California).
The relatively few non-Medicare UC LLNL retirees could be receiving either UCRP or PERS pensions.
Non-Medicare UC LLNL can receive group coverage through LLNS and LLNS makes a contribution towards the premium. Under LLNS this insurance pool is essentially a closed group. Non-Medicare UC (other than LLNL) can receive group coverage through UC and UC makes a contribution towards the premium. Under UC this insurance pool is UC system-wide. Non-Medicare contributions from LLNS and UC are typically more than $200 per month.
To continue coverage, I believe both LLNS and UC require Medicare retirees to sign up for Medicare when first eligible. Neither LLNS nor UC currently forces non-Medicare retirees to sign up for Medicare. (People over 65 who are not eligible for Medicare can buy Medicare Part A, Part B and Part D coverage.) As an alternative to non-Medicare group coverage, UC LLNL non-Medicare over 65 can pay for Part B coverage, join Kaiser Senior Advantage, pay the Kaiser premium and in return receive $200 per month from LLNS.
LLNS and UC coverage is not through Covered California.

Anonymous said...

3:56, you are merging retirement plans with medical coverage, they are separate entities.

For the record the lab started with employees covered by PERS. In 1962 the lab switched to UC retirment. Those that were with PERS had the opportunity to switch to UC or stay with PERS. Those hired in at that point were UC.

In 1977 the retirement plan changed again with UC coordinated with Social Security. Those under UC were give the choice to switch or to stay with UC only. I don't know if that choice was offered to those covered by PERS but figuring those PERS folks were close to retirement, they probably would not have changed.

In 2007 when the lab changed contract you could freeze your UC only / UC-SS plan and go to TCP2 or switch over to TCP1.

Until 2007 change over it was never made perfectly clear that the medical in retirement was covered by the contractor running the lab. I and many others made the assumption that we were UC employees and were part of the UC world. We were actually the red-headed step kids.

If you retire from PERS / UC only and some how have collected enough quarters to get Social Security it is quite possible the amount you can collect from SS could be much less than what you think it would be, this is due to Windfall Elimination.

As far as I know the only time that retirement moneys are directly used in medical insurance is if you are receiving Social Security and are getting Medicare, and then the govt. pulls money out of the Social Security check to help pay for the Medicare.

And to the gist of the question I don't know what non-Medicare cost you are asking about and Social Security solvency would not be in the domain of PERS or the UCRS.

Anonymous said...

What compensation will be provided to the survivors (surviving spouse, dependent children, and significant others) who cared for those UC Retirees who have passed away and who had their LLNL UC Medical benefits reduced to LLNS amounts? How many were forced to substandard medical plans because of the 2007 NNSA/LLNS transition (sic)? How many of those LLNL UC employees died due to the stress associated with this illegal and reprehensible action which was born out of greed and lined the pockets of those managers, directors, and Bechtel's management team; who cashed their checks without any consideration for those who actually worked on weapons systems during WWII and the Cold War? Lest we forget - wasn't it patriotism that convinced Bechtel to accept the $50M a year management fee to run LLNL (what a bargain basement price); especially when you consider that UC did it for $9M (and returned most of that back to LLNL to support research projects).

Isn't it great that the people who actually do the work will never know what the 17 pages of upper level management make. It'll be just like everything else, a big secret. The sad part is that they can't even be honest with a news reporter. Yes the question still is, what is the salary of the 40 new people brought onto LLNL property and why are their salaries so high. Talk about a waste and a good place to start cuts.

December 10, 2007 at 6:42 PM

"Substantially Equivalent in the Aggregate" - Yeah Right!

Anonymous said...

Monday, December 17, 2007
Remember her statement?
We did it. Today is the first day of our new contract under the management of Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC.
When we stood up the transition team in May 2006, my team agreed on three important measures of success:
We would transition people, programs and processes without adverse effect on safety, security or programmatic deliverables.
We would lead our colleagues through the transition and engage the workforce in embracing our collective future.
We would establish disciplined and responsive communications with the workforce, the Laboratory Site Office. and the incoming M&O contractor. I am very proud to say that we measured up.
There are so many people who ensured the transition went as smoothly as possible in a period of unprecedented change for our Laboratory. Thanks go not only to my team and the many employees who supported them, but also to the team at the University of California Office of the President who worked closely with us throughout the transition to sort through benefits, contracts, communications and legal issues and to the Laboratory Site Office who helped identify and resolve issues dealing with changing from a public to a private entity. And of course I am forever grateful to have had the pleasure of working with Tom Gioconda and his LLNS transition team, which led us to the finish line.

Transitioning a contract that has been in place for 55 years is a very challenging task at best and I can't imagine what it would have been like without Tom at the helm. My deepest appreciation goes to my team, which worked many, many long, hard hours for 18 months identifying, debating and resolving every detail needed to ensure a smooth transition. I'm proud to have worked with the Laboratory's communication team who created multiple communication venues and documented, recorded and shared our progress with the workforce, providing factual information as quickly as it became available.

And on a very personal note, I want to give a very special thank you to Kathy Cruz-Glasgow, my deputy, and Sharon Bertram, my administrator, who stood by me through it all, keeping me sane and on track, allowing me the space to express my own issues and concerns and encouraging me forward. They also took on an enormous workload working the logistics for the LLNS team, supporting the frequently asked questions efforts, and maintaining transition records.

It's with an odd sadness I say goodbye to you as transition manager. This assignment has been challenging, frustrating and stressful, but most importantly rewarding. I'm honored that Director George Miller asked me to take on this task, and I take personal pride in knowing I contributed to helping us all through this part of the formal transition. And now the real transition begins.

I ask you to join me in moving forward as we adjust to the change together and prepare for the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead. I do believe as George so often tells us, we have a bright future our outstanding workforce ensures us of that.

Anonymous said...

Monday, December 31, 2007
LLNS HR shows concern for its employees
Anonymous said...

I joined UC (LLNL) 28 years ago believing that medical benefits for my family would be provided. With my three children, two recently turning 23, and all still in college (one working on a Ph.D.), and with the less than inflation raises I have gotten the past few years, I was lucky to be able to pay their COBRA continuation coverage. On December 26, I received a letter from Kaiser letting me know that "your COBRA group coverage for you and your covered dependents is scheduled to end at 12:01 a.m. on 01/01/2008 (unless you become ineligible sooner)".

LLNS management knows we are under a great deal of stress right now. Good management would have at least given a warning before letting my wife receive such a timely and alarming letter. Who is in charge of the benefits office these days (and how much do they make)?

Of course there are phone numbers in the letters, and no one in the office to answer them. There is a web site, where you can enter your children's personal info: SSN and DOB. And all the usual scary disclaimers about how coverage can be canceled "retroactive"! But with the deadline approaching we decided to do it, to sign up, getting a $40/mo increase for each participant. Merry Christmas!

What a lousy decision I made 28 years ago. What a lousy recruiter I would make for LLNL today.

Anonymous said...

Why not make it simple? Treat ALL former LLNL/UC employees just like you treat all UC retirees from other campuses. After all, the fact that we were UC employees and not Feds was pounded into our heads year after year. Yet, when UC gave up the contract, we were told, "Well, no, you aren't like 'other' UC employees." Huh? After working for the University for nearly 30 years, and being told quite the opposite, this was quite a shock to me. Yet, it didn't phase UC, DOE, and LLNS, all of whom I suspect profited from the change in interpretation. Even now, even after a judge has ruled in the favor of the class-action plaintiffs, certain former LLNL/UC employees are told they aren't "part of the class." Is there no end to the greed of UC/DOE/LLNS? Is no penny not worth fighting over? Is there never going to be a collective conscience on their part to treat ALL their retirees fairly? You know, the people who toiled in anonymity for the greater good and security of the nation throughout the Cold War and beyond, often passing up other, more lucrative jobs because of the importance of the mission, the promise of a solid retirement? I'm betting "No" to all of these questions.

Anonymous said...

The bottom line is that thousands of people are being systematically cheated by the corporate goons at Bechtel and UC while the bureaucrats in the NNSA twiddle their thumbs and collect their own fat salaries for doing absolutely nothing productive. It is truly shameful how the National Labs are managed these days.

Anonymous said...

"... especially when you consider that UC did it for $9M (and returned most of that back to LLNL to support research projects)."

December 15, 2015 at 10:06 AM

... and AT&T/Bell Labs ran Sandia for $1 per year as a National Service. Unheard of these days!

Anonymous said...

UC retirement changes in 2013


http://hr.uclahealth.org/workfiles/Benefits/UCRPChanges.pdf

Anonymous said...

UC from 2013:

"What is NOT changing:

Vested employees whose age and years of service together equal 50 or greater and Safety employees have the same health health care eligibility rules"

Comment: Those at UC/LLNL in 2007, you have been collectively thrown under the bus thanks to the UC/LLNL contract off load opportunity to LLNS management.



Anonymous said...

I am still working at LANL and when the switch took place in 2007 I left my 20 plus years retirement vested at UC and choose TCP-2. I subsequently started receiving my retirement benefit from UCRP. My direct deposits say UCRP pension. So, in my view since I was fully vested and had enough service credit for full retiree medical coverage I should receive that from UC and not some convoluted hack plan that we have now. Not sure they will see it that way though. Will have to see how it all plays out but you can bet your ass that UC will appeal......

Anonymous said...

As far as UC goes I remember when I hired in at LANL I had to take a oath of allegiance to the State of California ala UC. This has to mean something.

Anonymous said...

LANL and LLNL employees that were 100% vested with UCRP BEFORE the contract change to LANS or LLNS should consider a class action lawsuit regardless of their forced TCP1 or TCP2 election at the transition.

Anonymous said...

"LANL and LLNL employees that were 100% vested with UCRP BEFORE the contract change to LANS or LLNS should consider a class action lawsuit regardless of their forced TCP1 or TCP2 election at the transition."

Those that fit the above description please understand, LANS and LLNS are just the first for profit LLCs in a set of future LLCs that may further impact or erode your 100% vested UCRP earned benefits.

Anonymous said...

It looks to me like the current plaintiffs (and their attorneys) were not looking out for ALL former LLNL/UC retirees, only those that matched their own criteria by allowing the "class" definition as it currently stands (though on their website they asked everyone for contributions). Maybe understandable in today's society, but on the other hand maybe short-sighted and somewhat selfish? So, as I understand it, if you retired from UC after the transition (freezing your UC retirement benefits, or retiring even on the day of transition), you are apparently out of luck. Response will probably be "too bad, you missed the boat."

Here's a suggestion: wait for all of this to play out, let the current plaintiffs spend their time and money litigating, then if they win, file another lawsuit on behalf of the people who were UC/LLNL employees yet who were left out of the class. Should have a good chance to win with that precedent set.

Anonymous said...

I was Forced to retire from UC 1 day after the start of continuing employment with LLNS with the threat of not being given employment by LLNL if I retired the day before. I question the reasoning behind it was given none by Human Resources.

Anonymous said...

In addition to all the good points listed above, remember that LLNL Employees who were hired prior to January 1, 1990 were FULLY vested in the Medical plan after 10 years of employment. As of January 1, 1990 the UC changed that term and those hired AFTER January 1, 1990 had to be employed 20 years to be fully vested in the UC retiree medical plan.

So at the very minimum, that class hired BEFORE January 1, 1990 and fully vested after 10 years of employment should most definitely be part of this class action lawsuit regardless of when they retired, or how old they were at the time of transition. It makes no sense to exclude that group, as they would have a slam dunk class action using the current case as precedent. It only takes 3 plaintiffs to qualify for a class action.












Anonymous said...

Monthly medical premium comparisons of 100% vested UCRP LLNL retirees would be useful here as follows:

1. Before October 1, 2007 with UC medical coverage
2. After October 1, 2007 with LLNS medical coverage
3. Today with LLNS medical coverage
4. UC medical coverage of our counterparts still in UCRP today (2015)
5. Other

There are many variables such as the number HMO offered, marital status, children, SS linkage, etc.
Are HMO choices for UC and LLNS employees different now?


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