DukeEmployees.com - Duke Energy Employee Advocate
have free and independent labor unions" - Franklin D. Roosevelt
GOOD NEWS FOR LAID OFF WORKER
"A former Crystal River 3 employee who was recently laid off from his job won $1million in an Internet lottery."
Does this statement have some future meaning for Duke Energy employees? Does it mean that employees who are laid off in the future will be given a lottery ticket? Is this going to be the resolution to the pension rip off? When we retire, will Duke give us a lottery ticket?
In an attempt to pressure employees for donations, Mike Tuckman stated: "We have a lot to be thankful for - good paying, relatively secure jobs, a revised holiday policy that should benefit most, and stock prices that have increased our net wealth. We're also looking pretty good for a high incentive payout…"
Without even getting into the ethics of an employer trying to extract money from the employees, let's examine his "reasons."
Good paying jobs: That is an ambiguous term, if there ever was one. Just what is "good paying"? The term is subjective. Are jobs good paying, because Mike Tuckman said so? Is he comparing them to minimum wage jobs? The Nuclear Operators have stated that their pay is the second from the bottom in the United States. Does Mr. Tuckman call this good pay? Some employees have not had a raise in many years. Are they receiving good pay? What about the people receiving the lowest pay in the company. Are they receiving good pay? Bringing up that subject was a poor move indeed!
Relatively secure jobs: It's a good thing Mr. Tuckman threw in the qualifier "relatively" (which makes the whole statement meaningless anyway). There are thousand of former employees that have been "downsized," who would object strongly to the statement about secure jobs!
A revised holiday policy: This one is our favorite! The company effectively took two holidays from most employees. The company can use weasel words and try to squirm out of it, but that does not alter the bottom line: The company effectively took two holidays from most employees! There was so much uproar from Nuclear Operations and union drives, that the company relented - for shift employees only! The holiday takeaway that was supposed to make everyone equal, was now a two tier system! During this time, two plants did vote in a union. After hearing complaints from employees for nearly two years, Mr. Tuckman came to the conclusion that we did not like the new holiday policy. In the 8/21/2000 issue of "Team Nuclear," (below) Mr. Tuckman announced that the holiday policy is being changed back. Translation: we are getting our two holidays back. He further stated: "I trust this will answer the question in the future," implying that he did not ever want to hear of the subject again. What does he do in this issue? He brings up the subject again! Let's examine this typical Duke scam. Duke takes something from the employees and keeps it for two years. It causes so much bitterness towards management and ultimately costs the company so much that they give the benefit back. Now we are supposed to grovel and lick management's hand for giving it back. The company then uses the fact that we are getting back what we already had, to try to manipulate us into further doing their bidding! What about the holidays we lost for two years? When do we get those back? We are still in the hole on holidays. We do not get the holidays back until NEXT year anyway. This is another subject that the company would have done well to have keep a low profile on.
Stock prices that have increased our net wealth: Mr. Tuckman is making the assumption that all employees own Duke stock; this is not the case. It was another meaningless statement anyway. What goes up today, can just as easily come down tomorrow.
We're also looking pretty good for a high incentive payout: Mr. Tuckman loves to count chickens that have not hatched. Until the incentive check is in the bank, you have a net incentive income of zero. If you do not believe that, just try to use your future incentive pay as a loan collateral! Everyone knows how the incentive amount is jerked around the last few days of the year anyway. It is manipulated, skewed, and massaged until it is at the "proper" place. The incentive money is budgeted at the beginning of the year, but for a mid-scale pay out, per a site vice president. If the incentive pay out is budgeted for mid-scale, what does that tell you that the real maximum pay out is likely to be?
ESS / NGD TRANSITION
"Last Thursday you received a note from Bill Coley announcing plans to place ESS employees in the departments they support, i.e. Nuclear Generation and Power Generation."
Some of the ESS employees have now gone full circle. Many of them built the various sites. To show the company's appreciation, they were stripped of their "nuclear premium pay". This occurred somewhere around 1986. This is the timeframe that Duke started its long downhill slide to benefits mediocrity. The nuclear premium pay was supposed to compensate employees for all the added stress of working in a nuclear plant. The added stress is real: processing through tight security, extra paperwork, endless regulations, constant scrutiny, exposure to ionizing radiation, and possibly cancer treatment. Some groups in the nuclear plants received pay adjustments to compensate them for losing the nuclear premium pay. Many of the ESS employees ended up traveling between the nuclear plants to work outages with zero compensation for their loss of nuclear premium pay.
Now that these employees are back, will they be compensated for the pay they have been denied for almost 15 years? Or, will this issue be thrown in the closet with all the rest of the benefit skeletons? When Duke merges groups with different pay scales, the issue is usually ignored for as long as possible. Any equalization of groups usually means that the group with more benefits gets scaled down to the group with less benefits. This could be a good move for the ESS employees - unless they are being led to the chopping block.
HOLIDAY POLICY CHANGES
"I have a lot of employee meetings, called 'meetings with Mike.' In almost every session the issue of holidays and the holiday policy comes up. We have re-examined the holiday policy, and you should have received a communication last week changing the policy back to what it was several years ago. I trust this will answer the question in the future."
Mr. Tuckman was able to decipher that there was a problem, and in only two years! Everyone was originally given the 80 hour vacation bank deal (to make us all equal). The people working shift complained so much that the new plan was promptly rescinded for them. (It must be OK for some groups to be more equal that others.)
This is a classic example of the company's modus operandi:
"Model Christy Brinkley and her group, 'Standing for Truth about Radiation'(STAR), held a press conference last week at the National Press Club on the 14th anniversary of the Chernobyl accident. They allege that as soon as nuclear plants are shutdown, the infant mortality rate downwind declines. They also say they have evidence of a relationship between radiation exposure and various forms of cancer, low Scholastic Aptitude Test scores, babies with low birth weights, and breast cancer among women living near nuclear plants. It is a shame that high profile entertainers can have an influence on the public in a field in which they have zero expertise. By the way, Christie Brinkley lives on Long Island, about 14 miles from Millstone Nuclear Station."
Just because Ms. Brinkley is not the president of nuclear generation, does not necessarily mean that she has zero expertise on the subject. It seems conceivable that she has consulted with experts before making any statements. Her close proximity to a nuclear facility does not negate what she has to say. That could possibly be one of the reasons for her concern. Should we believe what Duke Energy management tells us over Christie Brinkley? Well, her comments are solely an attempt to help fellow humans - not based on the love of money. AND, Ms. Brinkley has never lied to us!
This is another area where we must "consider the source." Do you expect a straight game in Duke's house? The people giving the presentation do a good job and everyone is encouraged to attend a session. But, one area of the presentation must be "taken with a grain of salt." You guessed it, the area of the cash balance pension conversion. These people are not paid anything by Duke. Any profit they make will be from future business from Duke employees. It just so happens that they manage retirement accounts. These people want to continue to give presentations at Duke sites so, do not expect them to give a completely honest appraisal of the Duke conversion. Everything else about their presentation is factual. Will they distort the truth about the cash balance conversion? YES! One of the speakers was asked about the Duke cash balance plan. He said, "Bill Coley looked me in the eye and said, 'what's good for the company, is good for the employee.'" That is an interesting statement. Bill Coley was awarded a supplemental credit to his Executive Cash Balance Plan account of $102,800.00. And, we suppose what's bad for the employee is good for the company.
In explaining the cash balance pension conversion, the company stated that Duke's old plan was one of the top pension programs. You know that Duke does NOT want to be the top in wages or benefits so, they knocked us down around the middle of the scale. All the good performance of the employees and all the awards that we earned for the company meant nothing as far as benefits are concerned. Duke knocked our pension benefits down to average, reduced health benefits, reduced holidays, and reduced benefits for retirees. Now Duke whines because we are not at the very top of performance? Well, cry us a river! Let's see, our benefits are around the 50% level and our performance is around the top 25% level. It is clear that the employees are doing too much already for the compensation received. When we are around the 50% level of performance, things will start to balance out. Duke may have more sobering-up to do before this is over! "This $117 million could have come in handy"? Handy for someone maybe but, not for the employee. The record is clear. The more the employees accomplish, the more they have taken away from them.
Any time a group is successful, have you noticed that someone else is always trying to get in on the act? Very little original thinking comes from the Duke senior management. They always copy what someone else is doing. A grassroots effort of concerned employees of many companies has captured the attention of Washington, D. C. These employees are concerned about the unfair, unethical, and possibly illegal nature of most cash balance pension conversions. Lawmakers and the media are interested in these employee's concerns. More employees are becoming aware each day of the abusiveness of most such conversions. It seems that Duke Energy wants in. Only it wants to control all efforts for its best interest. Now, who would have though that?
Mike Tuckman states, "There may be times when it is important for you to become personally involved with the process through letter writing, attending local meetings, or just having information to discuss with your friends and neighbors. This is called a "grass roots" effort. There may well be times I ask you to consider writing a letter or attending a public meeting to show your support. When this occurs, I will direct you to the web page for the current information."
Well, isn't that special? Grass-roots is defined as "the common or ordinary people, esp. as contrasted with the leadership or elite of a political party, social organization, etc.; the rank and file." Mike Tuckman wants a pseudo grass-roots effort. He said, "I will direct you..." Do you see a contradiction of terms? A grass-roots effort takes place when a large body of "ordinary" people become so tired of an injustice that they rise up to protest it. Grass-roots efforts are NOT directed by the "elite." Duke Energy will certainly dominate and control you 100% of the time if you will allow it. Duke wants to control what employees do and think on and off the job. Mike Tuckman wants to sit back and direct employees to do his bidding on their own time. Duke Energy spends vast sums of money lobbying against the employee's best interest. Now the company wants you to spend your own time also lobbying for them, and for free. Duke Power is always wanting the employees to be lobbyist, heat-pump salesmen, and ambassadors and, always for free! On the legislation web page is this statement: "This page is NOT a solicitation." Is there a new term for it now? The sentence was in red with "NOT" capitalized and underlined! During the prohibition era alcohol and gambling were illegal. One manufacturer made slot machines with "Not For Gambling" cast into the metal case. What will we have next, cigarettes labeled "not for smoking"? Why does everything that Duke Energy does have to be based on a lie? What Mike Tuckman wants is NOT grass-roots effort and it most certainly IS a solicitation! This is an attempt to get free work done by the employees at home as directed by the company elite. There are two ways that employees who are disgusted with such lies and tactics can approach this SOLICITATION. First, most employees will just ignore it as just so much company propaganda. Those who are really incensed by it, can always write letters taking the opposite side of Duke!
Mike Tuckman published "Retirement Cash Balance Program" in "Team Nuclear" on November 22, 1999. This was a rebuttal of sorts to the story in the "Charlotte Observer," "Utility Workers May File Grievance - Duke Power Employees Upset by Pension Plan." Mike Tuckman is in the same boat as spokeswoman Guynn Savage; they are required by the company to say whatever is programmed into them. They are not permitted to express personal feelings about corporate matters. If they are programmed to say that the world is flat, then they will say the world is flat. So, this rebuttal is not an attack on fellow employees, but rather what was programmed into them and those ultimately behind the programming.
Mr. Tuckman: "As a matter of practice, the company does not conduct discussions with newspapers, as it serves no useful purpose."
Truth: Really? Then how was Rick Priory able to be interviewed in the "Charlotte Observer's'" business section recently about all of his great deals? Or do you mean that the company conducts discussions with newspapers only for suck up stories? And, why did you complain about all the hours Duke spent answering questions for Ms. Nancy Stancill for her story about Duke Energy's over development of Lake Norman? Or was your only complaint that she did not allow Duke to write the story for her?
Mr. Tuckman: "I believe everyone knows that Duke Power made the decision to transition to a cash balance type of plan in 1997 as part of an integrated benefits approach."
Truth: If by that you mean: take the employees pension funds and transfer them to Duke Energy's bottom line, then we are in agreement.
Mr. Tuckman: "This selection was similar to what is taking place in most large companies."
Truth: Oh, no! Not the second grader's excuse, "All the OTHER kids are getting by with it; why can't I?"
Mr. Tuckman: "I suspect the recent IBM plan notoriety was the reason for this attention."
Truth: Bingo! All working Americans owe the IBM employees a debt of gratitude for exposing the cash balance scam for what it is. But the truth remains the truth, no matter who exposes it.
Mr. Tuckman: "It is important to realize that the companies look at the benefits plan as a whole and it is very difficult to compare one part of our plan with that of another company."
Truth: This is very true. It is also very difficult to compare the cash balance plan with what we already had. But one thing we know for sure, we are losing money, big money, and years of our lives. This was by no means accidental, however. The cash balance plans that transfer the employees retirement funds to the companies bottom line were designed to be very difficult to compare. They were not only designed to relieve the employees of their retirement security, but to so in a deceitful, undetectable way. Duke's senior management, along with IBM's, has been caught in the act. We are now in store for a Keystone Cops' act as you try to explain it away.
Mr. Tuckman: "Our plan included an increase in the incentive program as well as an increase in the 401K program."
Truth: Big deal! The employees are tired of Duke's "take a dollar and give back a nickel" deals. If anyone ever complains, Duke's senior management always screams, "BUT WE GAVE BACK A NICKEL." Duke employees lost significant retirement benefits. These were benefits which had been promised for over a quarter of a century. These benefits are the ONLY reason many employees have stayed with the company. We have been lied to by Duke Energy. We feel that we have been cheated. None of Dukes' "smoke and mirrors," mournful platitudes, or shill statements will alter the truth.
Mr. Tuckman: "For a good reference of comparison, you might check out the recent Money Magazine which ranked Duke as 10th among 40 of the top 500 companies that responded to benefits surveys."
Truth: GOOD GRIEF! Is that the best you can do? Who could possibly care what some two bit "rag" has to say? Who is in a better position to know what happened, the employees who lost money or some half baked magazine? And since only 40 companies out of 500 chose to respond, we see just how much weight "Money Magazine" carries, don't we? And, we cannot assume that it was the top 40 that chose to participate. It could have just as well been the bottom 40. If this were the case, then Duke would rank number 470 of the 500 companies! (460 companies did not respond. Of the 40 who did, 9 were better than Duke.) Playing numbers games is how Duke was caught in this predicament; playing numbers games will not get you out.
Mr. Tuckman: "The company is watching the national attention to this matter as we normally do for all benefits."
Truth: There was a time when the above statement was supposed to imply that Duke was surveying to make sure that the employees received everything that was coming to them. Now we know it means the opposite. Duke Energy is constantly surveying to try to find another way to chisel another dime from the employees. This is how the employees lost their early retirement enhancement benefit. Duke said, in effect, "Hey, look over there, someone is paying less; we cannot let them out cheap us."
And, Mr. Tuckman, happy Thanksgiving.