Wednesday, March 14, 2012
LANL Voluntary Separation Program
Tuesday March 13, 2012 / 6:00 - 7:30 PM
Northern New Mexico College Auditorium
Los Alamos National Laboratory Executive Director Richard Marquez explained to ~40 citizens gathered at NNMC the intention of LANS-LLC regarding 400-800 LANL employees whose early retirement is being solicited in a Voluntary Separation Program. He maintained that, depending upon their precise circumstances, targeted employees could find the VSP to be personally advantageous. Following a formal talk of ~15 minutes, questions from the audience were politely entertained.
In response to a question concerning precise motivations underlying the VSP, Mr. Marquez, a lawyer (J.D., UNM School of Law 1977) with experience gained in Albuquerque private practice as well as while defending the DOE against LANL employee-inspired lawsuits, volunteered that, although "we may not exactly be doing our workers a favor" by asking them to retire early, "we really love our employees" and have great concern for their well-being. He added that it was important to realize that "LANL employees also loved the Laboratory."
During his formal remarks, Mr. Marquez stated that the work of the Laboratory being essential for the national interest, he foresaw continued prosperity at LANL for the next ~50 years. However, a local citizen pointed out that, since the long-term prospects for the nuclear weapons industry were dim (the current President was continuing with the policy of past presidents by further reducing the numbers of deployed nuclear weapons in the US arsenal) how could the Laboratory expect to prosper into the future if its current emphasis on nuclear weapons R&D would persist? Mr. Marquez responded that the future was always difficult to predict and that the Laboratory would, in any event, always find an appropriate mix of essential tasks to perform. ¡Ojalá!
Having referred to the proposed delay in funding for the CMRR-NF construction project as an important factor in the LANS-LLC decision to pursue a VSP for 400-800 LANL workers, and in response to a question concerning the specific effect of this delay, Mr. Marquez was unable or unwilling to predict the actual number of affected workers.
Mr. Marquez is a facile presenter, deploys a repertoire of conventional social skills, and is adept at deflecting probing questioners. He was brought on-board the LANL management team in ~2001 by the departing Joe Salgado (himself a superficial charmer) who had been hired in the wake of the 1995 RIF at LANL, in an attempt to quiet community discontent. But, Mr. Salgado somehow came a cropper of the Wen Ho Lee affair. So far, Mr. Marquez, a "local boy", seems to have had a more enduring success than his mentor.