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Fermilab Layoffs

Layoffs Homepage | Director's Corner | Questions & Answers | Latest Q&A

Latest Questions & Answers
Posted on June 13, 2008

Layoff Question?
Many employees will have questions about their individual situations in the event they receive layoff notices. At this stage, Fermilab's Human Resources staff lacks the resources to deal with hypothetical individual cases. (Employees who do receive layoff notices will have individual meetings with human resources and benefits specialists to discuss their specific situations.)
Click here to submit a layoff question

Q: At the director's presentation on May 23, I recall that he said that the vast majority of employees at the laboratory would be eligible for the voluntary separation.   The number reported in Fermilab Today on June 9 was given as 750, which would be hundreds less than half the lab.  Could you please explain the difference?

A: When the director spoke to the laboratory about the voluntary separation program more than two weeks ago the guess at the time was that we would be offering the separation to the majority of employees at the lab.  It was a guess since the detailed analysis remained to be done.  The careful analysis that followed showed we could not do that and maintain the productivity of the laboratory because there are many very special skills that we have to maintain.  Overall, we are offering the voluntary program to more than five times the number of people needed for the reduction in force.

Q: I did not receive a Voluntary Self Select Option Program packet. Is this because I have been employed at Fermilab for less than 1 year and am therefore ineligible for the voluntary layoff? If so, does this mean that I am also exempt from the involuntary layoff?

A: Employees with less than one year service are by the rules of the VSSOP ineligible. It does not make you ineligible for involuntary layoff.

Q: I've looked at the published numbers closely, and I am trying to understand the reasoning behind the choices. For example, 22 percent of drafter-designer population will be laid off. This is a high skill field which has a great amount of technical knowledge regarding the laboratory's operations and designs. Drafters and designers are important to the success of engineers. Additionally, if contractors are brought to the laboratory, it would be difficult for them to replace the knowledge base of the drafters and designers. On the other hand, only 1 percent of administrative/professional population are targeted for layoffs. They can contribute no or minimal technical knowledge toward the future of the laboratory. If 10 percent of the laboratory population is being laid-off, proportionally 10 percent of the administrative work would be removed. There appears to be a conflict of interest. Can you explain this discrepancy?

A: This process started out with a Task Force that looked at the mission and future needs of the laboratory to determine where cuts could be made. This is what Director Pier Oddone wrote in his Director's Corner on March 4, 2008: "Over the last two months, we have faced a heavy and much more difficult task: the development of a plan for the layoffs that Fermilab must make to fit into our reduced budget going into the future. I created a task force of senior personnel from divisions and sections to go through every function at the laboratory and make recommendations to me on how we should reduce the workforce while minimizing damage to our overall program. The task force carried out this difficult task by analyzing the present and future needs of the laboratory. They considered only functions, without discussing names. The task force met for many hours almost every day during January. In early February, they made recommendations to me for reductions in various functions carried out by divisions and sections. I then met personally with every division and section head to understand the full impact of these job cuts and to take responsibility for the consequences to our operations for the nearly 200-FTE reduction proposed by the task force. We are now moving to the next step, with each division and section working with our Workforce Development and Resources Section on the actual reductions in force, the people who will be laid off, within each division. Layoffs will affect every area of the laboratory, scientific and support staff alike. We can only proceed to implement our plan after receiving approval by DOE." Since Oddone wrote his column, the goal for the reduction in workforce has been reduced from 200 FTE to about 140 FTE.

Q: Is there a breakdown of the number of weekly employees and the number of monthly employees who received the VSSOP's?

A: The laboratory has not done a breakdown by exempt/non-exempt status.

last modified 06/13/2008   email Fermilab at Work
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