Status report 3/29/09

 

UC Dialog:

 

I met with John Cammidge to see what he could/would do for us. He is definitely acting, not bucking for a permanent berth. He isnÕt an expert on the issue we are raising so he has to rely on other peopleÕs opinions to respond to our questions. I gave him my view of what needs to be done and some additional information. He said he would follow up on it, but I doubt he is willing to make any commitments or any waves.  If I could convince him that DOE was on the hook for costs he might show a bit more enthusiasm. The power structure has John reporting to Ms Lapp who in turn reports to President Yudof. I have written a letter ( copy at end of report) to Ms, Epps asking her to put together a co-operative effort. In the mean time we will continue to prepare a petition to President Yudof.

 

The Legal Front:

 

After I was through with John, I met with two lawyers, Tom Sinclair and Dov Grunschlag. Tom is one of the first lawyers I contacted and now has time to consider our situation. John Holtzrichter found Dov for us. John met with them earlier in the day so they were properly primed by the time I got to them. We discussed the issues and possible actions. They said that at first glance, it looked we have a case. We agreed that the first step would be for them put together a short proposal for examining the issue in greater depth and give us the cost to do so.  Assuming it looks reasonable, I get the job of passing the hat to see if I can come up with the funds. That has some ramifications.

  1. I will need somebody to act as treasurer and manage the funds. Tom thinks he has a 501c non-profit shell that he can resurrect as a legal entity to handle the funds and keep us out of tax problems.
  2. We need to contact as many people as possible to help spread the cost around. If you know any other retirees that might not be on my mailing list, please try to recruit them. If you belong to the Lab sponsored Retiree Association, see if you can recruit other members. We have not reached many retirees from the Walnut Creek/Concord area or from the central valley.  I have sent email to Chuck Meier requesting his help in recruiting more members of the LLNL Retiree Association. I have also sent email to Bruce Kelley requesting aid from SPSE in contacting retirees.
  3. It is time to think about the level of financial commitment you can make to help cover our costs. I realize that some of you canÕt afford to commit anything so I am not going to turn into a high pressure salesman. Unless it looks like our chances are good enough we may not get beyond the initial analysis.

 

One of the things we must show is that we were  promised UC medical benefits. To do that, we will need original copies of the documents I asked for in the last update. I will be getting back to those who offered documents in the near future to see what we can arrange. It looks like we have good coverage from about 1998 until 2007. Several people have offered VERIP3 documents from 1993. There is also a 1980 retiree handbook and a booklet from 1971. If anybody comes up with something in the 93 to 98 timeframe or prior to 93 please let me know. With everyone offering UC documents promising medical benefits it will be hard to convince me that we werenÕt promised UC medical benefits.

 

Dick Epps found the smoking gun used to shoot down our medical benefits. In one paragraph we are promised UC equivalent benefits. In the next LLNS is given permission to butcher them.  The information I have about LANL is that they have not seen cuts in their medical coverage. I tried to find the LANL contract to see if the same language is in it as in the LLNL contract. The public copy on the NNSA web site is dated 2006 so I havenÕt been able to check. I have sent a note asking for an updated copy but doubt that I will get it. If any of you can find a later copy please send it to me. If I can find it in time and it is missing the language I would like to add unequal treatment to my complaints to Secretary Chu.

 

 

Petition Signing:

I am attaching copies of the petitions that Earnie Nidick and I will be asking you to sign to this status report. One is for DOE, one is for UC and one if for Politicians.  Please look them over and give me feedback if there are problems. I will also be posting them on the website.  I have added one new fact to the petitions, LLNL is the only one of the three national labs getting their medical benefits cut.

 

We will try to get group signatures in areas where there are small clusters of retirees such as Berkeley and Brentwood. One person will be responsible for printing out a copy, collecting signatures and mailing the signed petition to Earnie. There are enough retirees in the tri-valley area to require something more elaborate. I have sent Earnie a list of people that have volunteered help and allowed me to use their private information. I have sent an email to people on the list so they know about it. If any others would like to help, send email Earnie at bev2ern@comcast.net and give him your name, address and phone number.

 

For those of you who are not in an area targeted for group signing or who canÕt get to a group signing, I will be putting together a set of petitions for individuals to send. There will be three basic flavors of letters targeting UC, DOE and Politicians. You will get more information when I get further along on that project.

 

 

UC Dialog Letter to Ms Lapp

 

To: Katherine Lapp

From: Joe Requa

CC: John Cammidge, Mark G. Yudof, Jeffery Blair, Barbara Clark, Lynn Boland, UC Regents, George Miller, Gabriela Odell, UCLRG Members

 

Dear Ms Lapp,

 

As the founder of the University of California Livermore Retiree Group (UCLRG) I met with John Cammidge on 3/24/09. After discussing our agenda, make UC honor its commitment to provide retiree medical benefits to UC retirees, I found:

  1. He has been dealing fairly and honestly with me but is not the right man for the job.
  2. As an acting vice president he does not have the expertise to address the agenda of fair and legal treatment of UC retirees and does not have the authority to enforce a decision on the agenda.
  3. He does not have an incentive to address the agenda.

 

I now have legal support and have verifiable facts to show UC is not meeting its legal commitment to retirees that worked at the LLNL site. UC has the choice of either achieving a co-operative resolution of medical coverage with my supporters and me or an adversarial resolution of the problem under the judicial system. In the interest of saving time and money for both of us I would prefer the former.

 

Actual damages for this year are conservatively estimated at $5m dollars. Based on LLNS presentations cumulative damages will be $15m in 2010 and $30m in 2011. By the time the wheels of justice turn I believe one third of actual plus punitive damages will be enough to convince a law firm to take our case on a contingency basis. Since my objective is simply to reverse UCÕs decision to abandon us, I believe that objective can be met and we can participate in UC open enrolment this fall without the need of legal intervention or addressing damages.

 

John rightly raised the question of who will pay for these benefits since they are unfunded. Those of us who have been around for a while remember that the agreement between UC and the federal government was unique because UC, as a public institution, could not risk financial exposure as a result of the contract.  The Government agreed to pay any unfunded liabilities that resulted from the contract. That language remains in the termination section of the UC-DOE contract and covers the cost of our medical insurance.  DOE realizes that, as evidenced by their attempt to provide us with higher cost and inferior benefits through LLNS. We are asking that UC require them to abide by the terms of the contract and pay UC to provide our promised medical benefits.

 

If you or President Yudof is willing to pursue a co-operative effort to solve the medical benefit problem, UCLRG would be happy to participate. If not we will have to choose an adversarial approach as our only other option.

 

Joe Requa

UCLRG Founder

563 Brookfield Dr.

Livermore, CA 94551

(925) 443-0120

jrequa@comcast.net

 

UC Petition

 

University of California President Mark G. Yudof

Office of the President

University of California

1111 Franklin St., 12th Floor

Oakland, CA 94607

 

Dear President Yudof,

 

The University of California Livermore Retiree Group (UCLRG) represents over three hundred of the 5400 former University of California (UC) employees who retired from UC after working at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) during the time when UC was managing LLNL. 327 of those retirees are not covered by Medicare due in part to past UC policies. UCLRG was formed to insure consistent treatment of retiree medical benefits for all UC retirees. We signatories are members of UCLRG are requesting your help.

 

Since you became President after the change of management occurred, you might not be familiar with our situation. UC promised us continued UC medical benefits at the time we retired.  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. We should be getting the same benefits as other UC retirees. Instead NNSA has put Lawrence Livermore National Security LLC (LLNS) in charge of our benefits and they have informed us of an aggressive plan to curtail benefits and increase our share of the costs over the next three years. These cuts are unique to retirees from LLNL. LANL and LBNL are continuing to receive UC level benefits.

 

UC managed LLNL when we retired at which time UC promised us we would continue to receive UC medical benefits.  Prior to the change in LLNL management our benefits were set and managed by UC and we had planned our continued retirement based on UC support. The DOE-UC management contract  (W-48) termination section says UCRP shall retain the liabilities associated with pensioners and requires DOE to pay any unfunded UC liabilities that arise from termination. Our medical benefits were promised to be the same as other UC retirees and are an unfunded liability resulting from contract termination. DOE is breach of W-48, providing modified benefits through LLNS. DOE is reimbursing LLNS rather than UC as W-48 required and is paying a liability different than UC has to us. UC has abandoned us rather than protecting us from the successor contractor as intended in the terms of W-48.

 

 LLNS did not exist until long after most of us retired. Before retiring none of us 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 our medical benefits.  A contract between NNSA and LLNS has no legal effect on UC or its retirees, since neither is party to the contract. The contract between NNSA and LLNS does not void the promise UC made to provide our medical benefits.

 

DOE Directive N 351.1 directs DOE Contractors to minimize as many retiree benefit costs as legally possible. It went into effect at LLNL March 1, 2008 after we retired and should not be applied to us.  LLNS management has contracted out the medical benefits program for LLNS employees and for UC retirees adding another layer of overhead costs to our medical benefits. They are applying 351.1 to our benefits as well as their own. This has resulted in increased costs and reduced benefits for us. LLNS has changed the list of available medical providers without providing acceptable support for transferring retirees causing significant problems. They changed our insurance pool resulting in a medical cost increase of 30% for DOE and our share of medical costs in 2009.

 

For the next two years LLNS plans to significantly increase our contribution to our medical costs. The third year they plan to either move us from group coverage to individual coverage or make us the sole members of the insurance group depending on how you read their presentation. That will result in even higher medical costs for us. UC pension benefits do not fully compensate for cost of living increases so we are in the position of having to pay increasing medical costs from a declining real income.

 

We solicit your aid in transferring responsibility for definition and administration of our medical benefits back to UC where they rightly and legally belong and insuring that UC is reimbursed by DOE for their share of the costs.

 

Joe Requa,is acting as spokesman on our behalf and is our point of contact. 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. He can be contacted by mail, email or telephone if more information is needed. His contact information is as follows.

 

Joe Requa

UCLRG Founder

563 Brookfield Dr.

Livermore, CA 94550

jrequa@comcast.net

(925) 443 0120

 

 

DOE Petition

 

 

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,

 

The University of California Livermore Retiree Group (UCLRG) represents over three hundred of the 5400 former University of California (UC) employees who retired from UC after working at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) during the time when UC was managing LLNL. 327 of us are not covered by Medicare due in part to past UC policies. UCLRG was formed to insure consistent treatment of retiree medical benefits for all UC retirees. We signatories are members of UCLRG are requesting your help.

 

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. UC promises continued UC retiree benefits for those UC retirees receiving medical benefits immediately prior to retiring. We received those benefits from UC until DOE replaced UC by Lawrence Livermore National Security LLC (LLNS) as management contractor at LLNL. NNSA asserts that we are not UC retirees but LLNL retirees and that they are free to control the 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. We should be getting the same benefits as other UC retirees. Instead NNSA has put LLNS in charge of our benefits and they have informed us of an aggressive plan to curtail benefits and increase our share of the costs over the next three years. These cuts are unique to retirees from LLNL. LANL and LBNL are continuing to receive UC level benefits.

 

We believe that the Department of Energy (DOE) has illegally transferred responsibility for our promised retiree medical benefits to Lawrence Livermore National Security LLC (LLNS), the successor contractor now managing LLNL. UC gave us written assurances that we would continue to receive UC medical benefits after retiring.  LLNS did not exist until long after most of us retired. Before retiring none of us had any legal relationship with LLNS.  NNSA placed a requirement in Contract No. DE-AC52-07NA27344 that LLNS provide our medical benefits. We canÕt conceive of any legal basis for allowing LLNS to control our medical benefits.  A contract between NNSA and LLNS has no legal effect on UC or its retirees, since neither is party to the contract. The contract between NNSA and LLNS does not void the promise UC made to provide our medical benefits.

 

DOE Directive N 351.1 directs DOE Contractors to minimize as many retiree benefit costs as legally possible. It was approved 4-27-06 to be applied by March 1, 2007 at the latest. It exempted selective elements of DOE without providing justification.  Its application was deferred one year for LLNL. 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 (TCP1), to convince UC employees and retirees that 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. LLNS changed our insurance pool resulting in a medical cost increase of 30% for DOE and our share of medical costs in 2009.This is 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.  We believe that this Directive is driving the changes to the medical benefits provided by LLNS. We do not believe that directive is applicable to us because it was not included in the terms of the UC-DOE management contract (W-48).

 

W-48 termination Section H (e) says UCRP shall retain the liabilities associated with pensioners and requires DOE to pay any unfunded UC liabilities that arise from terminating the contract. Our medical benefits should be the same as other UC retirees (pensioners) and are an unfunded liability resulting from contract termination. DOE is not conforming to the contract provisions by providing modified benefits through LLNS. DOE is reimbursing LLNS rather than UC as the contract required and is paying a liability different than UC had to us. 

 

We solicit your aid in transferring responsibility for definition and administration of our medical benefits back to UC where they rightly and legally belong and insuring that UC is reimbursed by DOE for UCÕs share of the costs. 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 tW-48 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 the UC regents in doing a review of our situation. We believe 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 point of contact. 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. He can be contacted by mail, email or telephone if more information is needed.    

 

Joe Requa

UCLRG Founder

563 Brookfield Dr.

Livermore, CA 94550

jrequa@comcast.net

(925) 443 0120

Political Petition

 

The Honorable Senator Dianne Feinstein

United States Senate

331 Hart Senate Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20510

 

Dear Senator Feinstein:

 

The University of California Livermore Retiree Group (UCLRG) represents over three hundred of the 5400 former University of California (UC) employees who retired from UC after working at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) during the time when UC was managing LLNL. 327 of those retirees are not covered by Medicare due in part to past UC policies. UCLRG was formed to insure consistent treatment of retiree medical benefits for all UC retirees. We signatories are members of UCLRG are requesting your help.

 

We believe that the Department of Energy (DOE) has illegally transferred responsibility for 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 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 our medical benefits.  A contract between NNSA and LLNS has no legal effect on UC or its retirees, since neither is party to the contract. UC promised us continued UC medical benefits at the time we retired. The contract between NNSA and LLNS does not void the promise UC made.

 

Prior to the change in LLNL management our benefits were set and managed by UC and we had planned our continued retirement based on UC support. The DOE-UC management contract (W-48) termination section says UCRP shall retain the liabilities associated with pensioners and requires DOE to pay any unfunded UC liabilities that arise from contract termination. Our medical benefits were promised to be the same as other UC retirees and are an unfunded liability resulting from termination. DOE is breach of W-48, providing modified benefits through LLNS. DOE is reimbursing LLNS rather than UC as W-48 required and is paying a liability different than UC has to us. UC has abandoned us rather than protecting us from the successor contractor as intended in the terms of W-48.

 

DOE Directive N 351.1 directs DOE Contractors to minimize as many retiree benefit costs as legally possible. It was approved 4-27-06 to be applied by March 1, 2007 at the latest. It exempted selective elements of DOE without providing justification.  Its application was deferred one year for LLNL. 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 (TCP1), to convince UC employees and retirees that 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. LLNS changed our insurance pool resulting in a medical cost increase of 30% for DOE and our share of medical costs in 2009.This is 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. These cuts are unique to retirees from LLNL. LANL and LBNL are continuing to receive UC level benefits.  We believe that this Directive is driving the changes to the medical benefits provided by LLNS. We do not believe that directive is applicable to us because it was not included in the terms of the UC-DOE management contract (W-48).

 

A third of our retirees subscribe to Kaiser Permanente.  LLNSÕs contractor for medical coverage, Extend Health, has not been able to negotiate a contract with Kaiser.  LLNS let Hewitt, their medical insurance contractor for the previous year, continue to provide Kaiser coverage for 2009.  They did not allow any retirees to switch to Kaiser contrary to the rules of open enrollment. We will receive Kaiser coverage only until January 1, 2010.  If Extend Health and Kaiser do not come to terms all Kaiser members will have to change providers. A shift of that magnitude will disrupt medical services in the entire Livermore area, disrupt ongoing treatment for retirees and lead to mass confusion.

 

The only solution that makes sense would be for UC to retain responsibility for providing the same benefits to UC retirees from the LLNL as other UC retirees. That is what we were promised and what W-48 specifies. We are aware that UC is considering changes to their medical benefits program, a right that they have always reserved. We are confident that UC will treat us fairly. DOE must stand behind its commitment to pay all unfunded liabilities resulting from termination of the W-48 and pay the same costs for us as UC pays for its other retirees regardless of 351.1, which did not go into effect until after we retired and LLNL management changed.

 

UCLRG is working to convince UC that W-48 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 the UC Regents in doing a review of our situation. We believe a co-operative effort on the issue by UC and DOE will be needed to fully address the issue.

 

 We are therefore, requesting that you help us convince DOE to transfer responsibility for our retiree medical benefits insurance back to UC where it belongs and assure that DOE continues to pay UCÕs portion of the costs. This solution would cure the breaches of W-48 as required by law.

 

Joe Requa, UC Retiree, is acting as spokesman on our behalf and is our point of contact. 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. He can be contacted by mail, email or telephone if more information is needed. His contact information is as follows.

 

Joe Requa

UCLRG Founder

563 Brookfield Dr.

Livermore, CA 94550

jrequa@comcast.net

(925) 443 0120