For some employees of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, these last few days of December are bittersweet. As of January 1, they’ll no longer be employed at the lab.
Those workers are among the 189 who received approval to accept a voluntary severance offer from UT Battelle, the contractor that manages the lab for the Department of Energy. The package was offered in October in an effort to trim up to 475 jobs. As reported in the Knoxville News Sentinel, Lab Director Thom Mason told employees the severance package was one of several initiatives to trim costs over the next few years. “We don’t know exactly what the budget picture will look like, how much we will receive, or exactly which programs will expand or contract,” he said in a message to employees. “Fiscal prudence requires us to prepare for smaller budgets in years to come.”
ORNL officials tell WUOT News approximately 25% of those employees opting to take the buy-out are researchers; the other 75% are considered support staff.
Salaried employees at the lab will receive a week’s pay for every year at the lab, up to 25 years. Union employees were offered the severance packages defined in their contracts.