A number of interesting things have happened since the last update.
I asked John Cammidge for a status report. His answer was:
Joe, I have completed some of investigation but I need some more answers to some of your comments before I reply. Can you give me until the end of the month?
I didnÕt expect instant gratification so the end of the month looks OK to me.
DOE Secretary Chu has decided to recuse himself from some aspects of the National Laboratories. I havenÕt been able to find exactly what he said so I only know what is in the news reports. The decision caused minor changes in the draft letter to him.
I am also preparing a draft letter to the President of UC to use in case we donÕt get a satisfactory response from John Cammidge. It will have a lot in common with the Chu draft.
President Obama is considering moving responsibility for nuclear weapons to DoD in the 2011 timescale. I have no idea of what that would do to us but I doubt that it would be to our advantage.
One of you has pointed out that Retiree medical benefits are not uniform across UC campuses. That shoots down the idea that the Livermore campus should get the same benefits as other campuses. If any of you know the process by which funding is determined for each campus please give me the details. My new assertion is that they should treat us like retirees from a campus that they had to close.
The TCP1 description ( Web Site Link: LLNS Compensation 7/12/7) says the following:
ÒMaximum UC Contributions: Service-based (100% of maximum employer
contribution after 20 years or hired pre-1990, 5% increments between 10-20
years, 50% with 5-9 years AND age & service of 75+, 0% under 5 years.)Ó
ÒMember Contribution: Difference between Gross Rate and maximum UC
That implies UC provides a fixed sum for each employee and that is its contribution to each individual. That canÕt be right or those of us without Medicare (there are 327 of us) would be paying a lot more.
Some follow up on several items is in order.
I have had no suggestions for naming our group, so I have invented a name. We are now the University of California Livermore Retirees Group (UCLRG). The UCL is in line with UCB and UCLA. The G was chosen because I canÕt claim we are organized as in organization and aggregation is to hard to spell.
The web site is being updated frequently. If you had trouble getting to it between the 2/6 and 2/9 It was probably my fault. Other than that period it should have been available.
I am going to set up a database of UCLRG members. Attached is a questionnaire file. Please fill it in, copy it, click on the link below, paste it in the body of the email and click send. All information is optional so only answer the questions you deem appropriate.
The idea of collecting signatures for petitions to appropriate persons met with much more enthusiasm than I expected. That means that I will try to get as many signatures on the letters. With the help of another refuge from Computations. who prefers not to be mentioned, I have a draft copy of a letter to Secretary Chu. It is at the end of this status report. Please read it over and let me know if you have problems with it. There were various of suggestions about how to go about collecting signatures.
0. Set up a central collection point in areas of high retiree concentration and invite people to come by. For example, in Livermore set up a signing table in the parking lot where Nob Hill moved out across from the old library where there is plenty of parking space. People could come by and sign up at their leisure.
0. Have people host a signing and let retirees make appointments to come by and sign.
0. Have people go around and collect signatures from retirees that canÕt come to any of the other signings.
0. Set up an outreach table at the Pleasanton Farmers Market and solicit signatures.
This is one of those items I will need help on. We need to know where people live to organize it. That is one of the reasons for the database.
On the legal front Richard Epps is trying to find us a lawyer. He is trying to get Gwilliam, the lawyer who filed the age discrimination suit against LLNS. Several of you mentioned him as a candidate but I had no luck with him. Hopefully Richard will have better luck.
A Òfireside chatÓ has been scheduled with Congressman McNerney. I am planning to attend and see if I can interest him in helping us. There are several more house members we should also try to influence. When I find out the distribution of UCLRG members I will be better able to identify those whose districts have a number of members.
Draft letter to the Secretary of the Department of Energy.
The Honorable Steven Chu The Secretary of the Department of Energy
U.S. Department of Energy
1000 Independence Ave., SW
Washington, DC 20585
Dear Mr. Secretary,
We, the undersigned University of California (UC) retirees, who were employed at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) site, believe that the Department of Energy (DOE) has illegally transferred control of our promised retiree medical benefits, to Lawrence Livermore National Security LLC (LLNS), the successor contractor now managing LLNL. LLNS did not exist until long after most of us retired. Before retiring none of us had been employed by or had any legal relationship with LLNS. NNSA placed a requirement in Contract No. DE-AC52-07NA27344 that LLNS provide medical benefits to us. We canÕt conceive of any legal basis for allowing LLNS to control the medical benefits we receive. A contract between NNSA and LLNS has no legal effect on UC or its retirees, since neither is party to the contract. It therefore canÕt affect the legal relationship between UC and its retirees. UC promises employees who received UC medical benefits immediately prior to retiring that they will continue to receive UC medical benefits after retiring. The contract between NNSA and LLNS does not void that promise.
Having recently been the Director of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), you should be aware of the commitments that UC has made to its UC employees at LBNL with respect to retiree medical benefits. UC made the same commitments to us. The UC web site currently promises UC retiree benefits for those retirees that were receiving medical benefits immediately prior to retiring. NNSA asserts that we are not UC retirees but LLNL retirees and that they are free to define the medical benefits we receive. LLNL is a facility, not an employer, so there arenÕt any LLNL retirees. UC employed us and assigned us to work at LLNL, so we are UC retirees.
DOE Directive N 351.1 instructs DOE Contractors to minimize any and all retiree costs that they legally can. It went into effect March 1, 2008 for LLNS. We believe that this Directive is driving the changes to the medical benefits provided by LLNS. It is clear that NNSA is attempting to retroactively apply DOE Directive N 351.1 to us. The UC-DOE contract (W-48) termination section required DOE to pay any unfunded UC liabilities that arose from terminating the contract. The fact that DOE is reimbursing LLNS for our medical benefits shows that DOE believes it is bound by those terms. However it is reimbursing LLNS rather than UC as the contract required. DOE committed to funding our retiree medical benefits prior to 351.1 being put into effect so it should not be applied to our medical benefits.
Application of Directive N 351.1 was suspended at LLNS for a year after it was issued. That allowed the contract between LLNS and NNSA to specify employment terms for transferring UC employees and medical coverage for UC retirees which would not have been allowed without the suspension. Some of us believe the delay was to allow NNSA to use bait and switch tactics, aka Total Compensation Package 1, to lead UC employees and retirees to believe the transition would be business as usual. UC employees learned that was not true when layoffs began shortly after the transition even though the contract required that every UC employee in good standing be offered a job. Retirees were not affected until open enrollment for medical insurance last fall limited our options and increased our costs as the first step in an LLNS three year plan, presented at LLNS medical open enrollment meetings, to eviscerate our medical benefits while significantly increasing our costs. It is this type of behavior that causes our lack of trust in NNSA.
We solicit your aid in transferring control of our medical benefits back to UC where it legally belongs. We are aware of your intent to recuse yourself from some Laboratory issues. If this is one of those issues, we request that you choose a neutral DOE party outside of NNSA with appropriate knowledge and legal expertise to review our situation. We believe that NNSA is a major part of the problem and should not be the reviewer. We are working to convince UC that the DOE-LLNS management contract doesnÕt provide a reason to cede control of our medical benefits to LLNS. Currently John R. Cammidge, UC Acting Associate Vice President Human Resources and Benefits, is representing UC in doing a review of our situation. A co-operative effort on the issue by UC and DOE will be needed to fully address the issue.
Joe Requa, UC Retiree, is acting as spokesman on our behalf and is our contact point. He has set up a web site at http://home.comcast.net/~jrequa/retiree.htm that gives a more detailed description of the problem we perceive, links to relevant documents, status reports on our activities and related newspaper articles.
563 Brookfield Dr.
Livermore, CA, 94551
(925) 443 0120