LOS ALAMOS, N.M. — Employees at Los Alamos National Laboratory are threatening a class-action lawsuit if they are transferred to a new retirement plan.
Currently, all Los Alamos employees are participants in the University of California Retirement Plan, Oakland.
The $41.4 billion defined benefit portion of the university's plan, which has $37.3 billion in liabilities, was 110% funded as of the latest actuarial valuation on July 1. The plan includes a cash balance feature that has $1.23 billion in assets.
The UC board of regents voted Jan. 19 to move the laboratory workers into a separate defined benefit plan; that proposal requires approval from the U.S. Department of Energy. (The University of California manages the New Mexico laboratory for the Department of Energy.)
Manuel Trujillo, president of the Los Alamos Chapter of the University of California Professional and Technical Employees Union, has begun exploring filing a class-action lawsuit on behalf of the Los Alamos participants.
"If the University of California stays on course with what they have voted on, I'm sure we will file a lawsuit," he said in an interview.
Charles Mansfield is president of the Laboratory Retiree Group Inc., Los Alamos, which is a retiree group representing Los Alamos employees who participate in the UC plan. Mr. Mansfield said his group is waiting to see if lawmakers can block creation of a new pension plan, but supports any action Mr. Trujillo might decide to take.
"It will definitely strengthen the UPTE lawsuit if we join them," he said.
And on Jan. 27, Sens. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., and Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., urged Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman to turn down the University of California regents' plan.