LANL union to host town hall meeting Wednesday
By Tris DeRoma
Friday, April 21, 2017
A union that represents some scientists and technical workers that work at the Los Alamos National Laboratory will host a town hall-style meeting Wednesday in Los Alamos to discuss the upcoming contract transfer.
The Department of Energy’s rebid process for the lab’s management and operations contract, currently held by Los Alamos National Security, LLC, is scheduled to start in the late spring or summer. The union, the “University Professional and Technical Employees,” is advocating for a non-profit company to take over the contract.
Members of the community are invited to the meeting.
“This is really organized as a true town hall meeting, where we want input from stakeholders,” said Jeff Colvin, executive vice president of the union. “Stakeholders are basically every employee at the laboratory and people who live in the local communities. Everybody is a stakeholder in the success of the laboratory. We want to hear from them.”
Colvin and others plan to attend to provide as many answers as they can.
“They will know what’s going on, as far as we know, concerning what the bid process is about, what the timeline is, and to have their say in what they’d like to see happen in this upcoming bid process,” Colvin said.
One of the issues that will probably be brought up at the meeting is the gross receipts tax issue.
LANS is a privately held, for-profit company, and as such pays millions of dollars of gross receipts tax to the communities LANL serves, including Los Alamos.
If a non-profit company is awarded the management and operations contract, Los Alamos County is at risk of losing millions of dollars in revenue.
UPTE favors a non-profit company management model, saying the for-profit model has stifled innovation in technological and scientific discovery at LANL.
“We hope to recruit more people who want to take a more active role in helping us influence the RFP (request for proposal),” Colvin said. “We’ll see how it goes.”
Also attending the meeting will be representatives from the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities. The coalition represents the priorities and voices of people from LANL’s surrounding communities, and often represents those interests in the New Mexico State Legislature and Washington, D.C.
The RCLC has written and endorsed state legislation that would preserve the gross receipts tax function, even if a non-profit entity was awarded the contract. The bill did not get a reading during this legislative session.
UPTE also approves of the idea. The RCLC’s executive director, Andrea Romero, said she thinks both sides can come together on a mutual understanding.
“The reality for us is if a for-profit contractor that can do the job well, meet all the demands that UPTE’s requesting specific to their workforce and the public interest… we just want the best people for the job,” Romero said. “We aren’t necessarily aligned on the deprivatization of the laboratory, we are leaving that up to the NNSA (National Nuclear Security Administration) to be the best judge of. Whether you’re for a profit or non-profit, we want the best manager for the laboratory… Having a blanket deprivatization to us doesn’t necessarily solve some of their problems. It’s about what’s in the guts in the proposed plan of the next contractor.”
The meeting is set for 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at UNM-LA, Wallace Hall, Building 5.
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