UPTE-CWA E-Bulletin: May 10, 2006

Contents:
(1) UPTE Files Lawsuit to Challenge Retirement Transfer
(2) UPTE Garners Some Concessions But Job Security Still Lacking
(3) UC and LANS Refuse to Answer Questions
(4) Build a Union to Benefit Us All

(1) UPTE Files Lawsuit to Challenge Retirement Transfer
On April 18, UPTE-CWA filed a lawsuit in Alameda Superior Court (CA) claiming that employees at Los Alamos are being illegally bereft of their vested pension and denied information they require to decide which pension and employment options to choose in the transition to LANS, LLC.

We are being forced to decide between transferring our pension to a new LANS plan that is not "substantially equivalent" as required in the bidding process. Among many differences, the new plan does not allow for lump sum cash out. If employees decide to retain their pension with UC, they risk UC separating their pension assets from the overall UC pension plan and getting caught in the middle of a disagreement between UC and DOE over whose responsibility it is to keep the plan viable. Either option puts long-term dedicated employees into smaller, untested pension plans that will receive no new active members (i.e. they are dead end plans).

At innumerable forums employees have asked important questions they need answered to make the most responsible choice for them and their families. UC, LANS and DOE have refused to respond during this critical decision making time.

The coercion out of the UC plan and the failure to provide information are truly disrespectful and unfair treatment for the thousands of hard-working employees who have already endured many years of difficult times.

This could have been done differently. UC and LANS could have offered full reciprocity between the pension plans for transferring employees. If UC did not have a major stake in LANS, they could not have forced employees to make the decision to pull out of the UC pension plan or lose their right to a defined benefit plan at LANS. There is truly a conflict of interest that is being used to deprive employees of their pension. At all times "the California Constitution mandated that the fiduciary duties owed to plaintiffs and their class took precedence over other duties" of the Regents, as stated in our lawsuit.

(2) UPTE Garners Some Concessions But Job Security Still Lacking
While having flaws, the pension plan offered to transferring employees is as good as it is because UPTE managed to insert the language requiring a "substantially equivalent" into the request for proposals.

Since the decision to award the contract to the UC-led LANS, LLC, we have clarified that employees who keep their pension with UC and accept a job with LANS, can retire from UC with 120 days after beginning work at LANS and receive their retiree health benefits. Anyone who retires before transferring is not guaranteed a job.

Also, employees who previously retired and were re-employed like those affected by the 1995 reduction in force pension plan, will be able to transfer their pension just like any other employees despite information to the contrary.

LANS still, however, insists they will make all employees being "at will" which means you can be let go at any time without cause. UPTE will continue to lobby congress and pressure both UC and LANS to provide greater job security. Having additional protection from arbitrary management actions ensures that security, safety and scientific dialogue occur in an environment with less fear of retaliation. Without job security, the problems that occurred at Los Alamos are only more likely to occur again.

LANS has stated clearly that without a union contract forcing them to provide job security they will insist on "at will" employment. The Department of Energy also states that most of their non-union facilities have "at will" employment.

(3) UC and LANS Refuse to Answer Questions
UPTE has had meetings with both UC and LANS administrators asking for clarification about the UC spin-off pension plan, LANS' benefits plans and much more. Both UC and LANS have promised but have not come through with most of the answers.

UPTE has filed an unfair labor practice against UC for failing to meet and answer information requests. We will continue pursuing information so that employees can make choices that meet their families' needs best.

(4) Build a Union to Benefit Us All
The only way we be able to protect our benefits at Los Alamos will be by signing cards for union recognition. UPTE-CWA continues to collect signatures for all clerical employees at this time. If you have not yet signed the petition for recognition you can download the card and turn it in to UPTE . The sooner we have sufficient cards, the sooner we can address our employment concerns. Once we have majority support on our cards the employer will no longer be able to make changes without our consent.

The UPTE E-Bulletin is prepared by UPTE-CWA President Jelger Kalmijn for all members.
If you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to write him at president@upte-cwa.org. If you wish to have dialogue with other members about UPTE-CWA issues, sign up for our web forum.