UPTE Los Alamos Reporter

Welcome to the second edition of the UPTE Los Alamos Reporter, published by University Professional & Technical Employees (UPTE) Local 1663. If you missed our first edition, you can read it here.

Federal fiscal problems may affect LANL
Union leaders at Los Alamos National Lab are cautiously watching the fiscal situation in Washington DC. The lab employs thousands of federal contractors, and cuts to the Department of Energy could hit the workforce hard.

“My greatest concern is that workers are under tremendous stress to achieve goals with reduced staff and support resources,” UPTE’s Los Alamos president, Richard Montoya, told a journalist at Albuquerque’s KRQE-TV recently. “We are worried about our jobs, our property values, our retirement and health care.”

As president of UPTE Local 1663, the union representing employees at LANL, Montoya believes that “lab budgets will feel at least as much squeeze as any other entities in DOE or DOD.” 

He added that employees were “uneasy with the privatization of the labs” under for-profit limited liability, especially regarding safety issues. “We are afraid that mistakes could be made and people could be hurt,” he said, as fewer employees mean more work speedup.  
Los Alamos National Lab currently has 10,400 employees. Lab management has said no workforce cuts are yet planned for this year. Last year, LANL cut its staff by about 10 percent, spending $255 million less than the year before.

In California, UPTE meets with UC management about post-employment benefits
On April 4, UC employees will hold a “day of action” for equity on the anniversary of the death of Martin Luther King Jr., who was shot 45 years ago while supporting Tennessee’s public workers in their demands for economic and racial equity. Now UC wants to create second-class employees. Under UC’s proposals half of current employees and all new employees will have to work up to 15 years longer to receive the same benefits as their co-workers.

In a historic meeting, UPTE along with two other UC unions (AFSCME and the California Nurses Association) met with UC to emphasize that management’s plan for two-tier pension and retiree health benefits was not acceptable.

Accountants who calculate the cost of post-employment benefits for both UC and the unions agreed that UC was not making adequate contributions to our pensions. In response, UC said policy decisions -- not accountants -- determine how much it will contribute. The bottom line is that the UCRP pension fund is relatively healthy, but UC believes our retirement is too generous and maintaining it is not a financial priority. Learn more about the issues at UPTE's website.

Make a difference at LANL
Let UPTE know what issues are most important to you by coming to a meeting or e-mailing us or phoning us at (505) 490-6054. Meetings occur on 1st and 3rd Tuesdays of each month at 5:15 PM at the UPTE office, located on the second floor of the Miles Building, office 209 (across the street from the Post Office).

Watch for actions you can take through Local 1663 to stand up for yourself and help other employees receive fair treatment.

Encourage others to join the local,
to help build our membership.  

Help us reach out
to the LANL community of Northern New Mexico in a positive way, e.g. serving in booths at local events. 

Volunteer your time and skills.
For instance, help the local put together a newsletter, organize local talks and events, or take on an administrative task to help the local. The possibilities are endless – contact us with your ideas.

The UPTE Los Alamos Reporter is published bi-monthly. Feel free forward this message to anyone who may be interested. If you want to get more involved, we welcome fresh ideas and energy. Contact us by e-mail or call us at (505) 490-6054. You can visit our webpage at www.upte.org/LosAlamos.