Status Update 1/29/09

 

Well folks, the world has changed since last Thursday when the Independent ran an article on Lab retirees and included my name and the web page URL. I’ve been busier than a one man band. The number of concerned retirees has passed 190. I would like to welcome the new people and suggest they read the updates. I just got the 1/21/09 update posted so there is something new to read on the web site. I have moved the update links to the front of the main web page so you won’t have to scroll to the bottom to see if there is anything new.  I also put the “last update date” in the header.  For any of you that don’t have or remember the web site link, click on the link below:

http://home.comcast.net/~jrequa/retiree.htm

 

Our ultimate objective is to get our medical benefits back under UC in time for us to participate in the UC fall open enrollment process. At this point we seem to have the attention of UC (see below) so there are two paths forward open. I can try and convert the group from an irate mob into a political machine, or I can try to open a second front at DOE. Given my organizational talent opening a second front is probably what I will be most successful at. Common wisdom is to work through our elected representatives, but that is time consuming, so I think we need to mount a direct assault on DOE. Because NNSA is the problem, we need to go higher up the management chain. Since the new Secretary of DOE was previously Director of LBNL, I believe he would be sympathetic and should be the next target. With the current size of the group, it might be feasible to prepare a letter to Dr. Steven Chu and have a signup event for retirees in the Livermore area. If one of you lives in an area where you believe there are a number of retirees close and would like to arrange a signing event please contact me. We will send the signed letter(s) through USPS. I will ask those of you that can’t get to a signing event to send supporting email. I think the email should start with a standard header saying you belong to the group and support the petition mailed in. You can then add any comments you relevant.     

 

We seem to have the attention of the UC. I sent a response to their last attempt to tell us everything is all right which I have added it to this update so everyone can see it. I immediately got back the following response which sounds like John is listening to us.:

Dear Mr. Requa (Joe),

 

I am in receipt of your most recent correspondence and will conduct a further review of your situation so that I may reply more specifically to your questions. Thank you for your patience.

 

John Cammidge

Being an optimist, I think he deserves a chance to try again. My goal here is to attempt to convert two monologues into a dialog. If we can’t do that soon, we will have to look at other methods of dealing with UC. One of the new recruits that I trust has started looking for legal support. Since I don’t seem qualified for the job, I am going to let him run with it.

 

Along with  trying to get DOE’s attention There is some background information I believe we should have. 

 

     0.       DOE Directive N 351.1 is a draconian attempt to slash any and all DOE retirement costs. It was scheduled to go into effect prior to LLNS taking over management of LLNL. For reasons unknown to me it was delayed for a year so it took effect after the management change rather than before. That allowed the DOE-LLNS contract to specify Total Compensation Package 1. That in turn lulled transferring UC employees and retirees into believing that it would be business as usual after the transfer. If there wasn’t a squeaky clean justification for the delay we may have an issue.

              0.                       We should ask for documentation justifying that DOE was acting legally when they put the requirement that LLNS to provide our medical insurance in the RFP. As you will see in my latest response to UC, I do not believe they acted legally.

              0.                       We should ask why LANS is providing superior medical coverage to their employees. It certainly seems that all National Lab retirees should be treated equally. If not, one might conjecture that DOE might be planning to close the one treated least favorably.  I am sure you can guess which one that is.

              0.                       The decision to switch contractors looked to me to be a short shuffle. The claim I heard was security breaches caused the decision. When LLNS was caught passing classified information in unclassified email they didn’t even get a slap on the wrist  so it is hard to believe security was the real issue.

 

If any of you have other ideas of what to ask for that might help our cause please let me know.

 

The next question is who to ask for the information. Candidates include the Secretary of DOE, Senators Feinstein and Boxer and local House members Tauscher and McNerney.

Since I am in touch with Ellen Tauscher’s office, I will ask if these are issues that she might willing to address and, if not, ask for her opinion of the right person to ask. I don’t think State officials would be helpful on these questions, but if communications with UC break down, we should involve them.

 

Now for as bit of mundane business.

 

One issue that has arisen is individual privacy. I was putting everyone’s email address in the To field of the email header. One member asked me to cease doing so which I did. The moral of the story is that if any of you would prefer I do not mention your name or email address in my communications,  please let me know.

 

The issue of money is one that we need to address. Many of you have offered financial help if necessary. I may have to solicit money for miscellaneous expenses such as meeting rooms, snail mail, supplies etc.  if this turns into a long term effort. Just because I ask doesn’t mean that you are required to donate so if you do not have money or not inclined to donate then don’t. The more serious need for money will be if we find a lawyer that thinks we have a strong case and has what seems a reasonable asking price. We may want to get a list of all the retirees affected and raise enough money to send a solicitation to everyone.  Since I am much better at double cross bookkeeping than double entry bookkeeping, I am looking for a volunteer to be treasurer for the organization.

 

If this turns out to be a long run situation, we should probably set up a non-profit organization. One form that has been suggested is a political action committee (PAC). Other suggestions will be entertained.  If any of you have any expertise in non-profit organizations please share it with me.

 

And now for the entertainment.

 

To: John Cammidge

From: Joe Requa

 

CC Katherine Lapp, Barbara Clark, Lynn Boland, Jeffery Blair, UC Regents, Mark G. Yudof, George Miller, Gabriela Odell, Concerned Retirees

 

Dear Mr. Cammidge

 

I am glad that you have followed up on my inquiry. let’s see how well you did. I asked for a response to three points so let’s go down the list.

 

Am I a UC retiree? -- That issue is not addressed. The closest you come is “You are a former UC employee”.

 

Does UC promise medical insurance to its retirees? -- I see no reference to that issue at all.

 

Why am I not getting UC retiree medical benefits? -- The closest you come is to say “Under the new management contract, the DOE is obligated to reimburse the new contractor, Lawrence Livermore National Security (LLNS), for the retiree health care costs incurred by former LLNL employees.” That is neither relevant to the issue nor true (see below).

 

My conclusion is that you failed to address any of my issues. I will ask you to please try again. If we are to have a dialog, you will have to quit parroting UC public relations pap and use some of the analytic logic UC prides its self on teaching. Below you will find some examples drawing on statements from your response.

 

I informally contacted the UC lawyer responsible for this issue according to the University web site, Jeffrey Blair, last summer in an attempt to open a dialog. After stonewalling me for a month, he said he had my problem solved. A week later I got an email from Ms. Gabriela Odell of the LLNS legal group that, like your response, did not address the issue I raised. You might get a better picture of the legal situation if you ask him his reasons for believing that the obligation has been passed from UC to LLNS. If he has some compelling arguments, I am willing to consider them.

 

For your information I have been organizing concerned retirees and at this time am spokesman for more than 170 of them. Many of them have offered time and/or money to help protect their rights.  They are the Concerned Retirees listed in the CC line above.  If you would like to see more detailed information on the issues I have provided the following web site to keep retirees informed:

http://home.comcast.net/~jrequa/retiree.htm

 

 

 

 

An analysis of some statements made by John Cammidge

 

“UC retiree health care costs, in contrast, are paid from the University’s general assets on a pay-as-you-go basis.  There was no prefunding for such costs during your employment.”

That is a true for every UC retiree, not just those who worked at the LLNL site.  Health care is an ongoing cost of doing business that UC selected as part of its compensation policies. I did not set those policies but I expect UC adhere to them. Reimbursement, if any, is an issue between UC and DOE. My reading of the UC-DOE contract is that DOE is required to reimburse UC for those costs.

 

“Under the new management contract, the DOE is obligated to reimburse the new contractor, Lawrence Livermore National Security (LLNS), for the retiree health care costs incurred by former LLNL employees.”

It should be noted that there are not and have never been LLNL employees. LLNL is a site and sites do not have employees. UC, as the manager of the LLNL site had employees.

 

It is true that DOE placed an obligation on LLNS as a result of the DOE-LLNS management contract but that has no bearing on the issue at hand. A requirement in a contract between DOE and LLNS has no binding effect UC retirees since they are not a party to the contract. It also has no binding effect on UC because UC is not a party to the contract even though UC is a principle in LLNS. The contract itself disavows any third party interests in the contract. Therefore the contract has no effect on the relationship between UC and UC retirees and does not provide cover for UC to divest itself of its obligation to its retirees. 

 

  “Thus, the obligation to provide the health care also has been transferred to LLNS.”  

That statement proves that you are either woefully ignorant of the truth or an outright liar. It is the crux of the issue at hand.

 

UC has the obligation to provide retirees that worked at the LLNL site the same health benefits as they provide to their retirees that worked at other sites. That is a very different obligation from the one placed on LLNS by DOE under the DOE-LLNS management contract.  If it were not, LLNS couldn’t modify our medical coverage unless you were to modify coverage for all your employees. DOE did not have the obligation to provide our health care so it is impossible for DOE to pass it to LLNS through a contract between them.

 

 

On Jan 20, 2009, at 2:55 PM, John Cammidge wrote:

Dear Mr. Requa: 

 

Executive Vice President Lapp has asked me to follow-up with you regarding your inquiry to her dated December 24, 2008 regarding your retiree medical coverage.  As you point out, your pension benefits continue to be paid from the University of California Retirement Plan (UCRP), but your health care benefits are now paid by the company that currently manages Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) under contract with the Department of Energy (DOE). 

 

Your pension benefits continue to be paid from UCRP because they are funded by the UCRP trust.  During the time you were employed at LLNL as a UC employee, you became an active member in the UCRP and accrued retirement benefits in which you became fully vested under the terms of the plan document.  During that period, the University and members made contributions to the UCRP trust to the extent necessary to keep the plan actuarially sound so the promised benefits could be paid.  The DOE reimbursed the University for the contributions made to the UCRP trust on behalf of LLNL active members while the UC-DOE contract was in effect.  The trust is a separate entity legally distinct from the University, and its assets cannot be used for any purpose other than to pay for benefits to members and their beneficiaries and to defray administrative expenses.  Those assets are still held in the UCRP trust so your pension benefits continue to be paid from UCRP.

 

UC retiree health care costs, in contrast, are paid from the University’s general assets on a pay-as-you-go basis.  There was no prefunding for such costs during your employment.  While LLNL was managed by UC, the DOE reimbursed UC for the retiree health care costs incurred by former LLNL employees on a yearly basis as required by the UC-DOE contract that ended in 2007.  Under the new management contract, the DOE is obligated to reimburse the new contractor, Lawrence Livermore National Security (LLNS), for the retiree health care costs incurred by former LLNL employees.  Thus, the obligation to provide the health care also has been transferred to LLNS. 

 

Your employment has not been transferred from UC under the DOE-LLNS contract.  You are a former UC employee and, as such, will always be part of the UC community.  The obligation to manage your retiree health benefits, however, is now the responsibility of the successor contractor to provide for ongoing funding.   

 

We appreciate hearing from you and hope that you have taken advantage of the services and features provided under the health and welfare plans offered by LLNS.

 

 

John R. Cammidge

Acting Associate Vice President

Human Resources and Benefits

1111 Franklin Street

Oakland, CA   94607

 

----------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Joe Requa [mailto:jrequa@comcast.net]

Sent: Wed 12/24/2008 3:40 PM

To: Katherine Lapp

Cc: miller21@llnl.gov; President's Office; regentsoffice@ucop.edu

Subject: Re: Retiree Medical Benefits for UC Retirees

Dear Ms. Lapp

 

I appreciate your response to my inquiry.  I am happy to hear that the Regents have chosen you to speak on their behalf. Your response does correctly state the status quo at the moment.

 

Unfortunately, your response assumes UC has the right to transfer liability for my medical coverage to LLNS, which is the assumption I intend to challenge. Restating the status quo neither acknowledges nor addresses that issue.

 

Perhaps I have not been clear enough, so let me make it as easy as 1, 2, 3.

 

1.              I am a UC employee

a.     My retirement check comes from UC.

b.     UC paid my medical benefits until LLNS took over the management contract.

c.     The Academic Council Special Committee on the National Laboratories in White Paper IX states “Laboratory employees, who are in fact UC employees, cannot be fired under UC human resources guidelines without a full review, which can require several months.

d.     A provision in a management contract between LLNS and DOE does not transfer me out of UC employment since neither I nor UC is a party to that contract.

2.              UC provides medical insurance to its retirees.

a.     The UC web site: http://atyourservice.ucop.edu/retirees/health_welfare/index.html states:  “If you were enrolled in a medical plan as an active employee and elected to continue coverage when you retired, you may continue coverage.”

3.              Therefore, UC is responsible for providing me the same medical benefits as the rest of its employees.

 

Would you, or another individual selected by the Regents, please address my issue based on the above three points? Thank you for your further assistance.

 

Joseph Requa

University of California Retiree

563 Brookfield Drive

Livermore  CA 94551

925/443-0120

 

cc.

Regents of the University of California

UC President Mark G. Yudof

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger

Senator Dianne Feinstein

Representative Ellen Tauscher

LLNL Director George Miller