The Union was required to file a national grievance today to challenge the SEC's breach of its prior agreement to allow first-year SEC employees to participate in the Student Loan Repayment Program (SLRP).
In June 2014, the SEC and the Union entered into a memorandum of understanding in connection with certain changes in the SLRP. Pursuant to that agreement, the SEC agreed to:
waive for all bargaining unit employees the requirement contained within Article 25, Section 5, that ‘an employee must have completed one year of service with the Employer’ to participate in the SLRP (the ‘1-Year Requirement’). From the execution of this agreement forward, all SEC bargaining unit employees within their first year of service will be eligible to apply for participation in the SLRP, and will be subject to the same terms, conditions and standards under the program as SEC employees who have been at the agency for more than one year.
The SEC has now denied a number of SLRP applications from first year employees. In the Office of Information Technology, for example, the SEC has asserted that “employees must be onboard at the SEC for one year to allow assessment of employee performance” before they can participate in the SLRP. Similarly, in the Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations, management has denied SLRP applications from first year employees, and has told them that allowing them to participate in the SLRP during their first year would be tantamount to making a premature determination that they had passed their probationary period.
Imposition of a one-year service requirement in this fashion constitutes a patent breach of the plain terms of the 2014 SLRP agreement. Nevertheless, when the union brought these issues to the attention of Labor Relations in the SEC's Office of Human Resources, union officials were told that application of a one-year waiting period "does not violate our agreement to waive the 1-year rule."
The union has filed a national grievance on behalf of all adversely affected employees.
"The union negotiated the Student Loan Repayment Program for the purpose of recruiting and retaining the best talent at our agency," NTEU Chapter 293 President Greg Gilman remarked this afternoon, "and it is a program that really works. It is ironic that the SEC markets itself as a great place to work in reliance upon these types of union-negotiated benefits, but then allows managers to engage in a bait-and-switch once the new employees arrive. It is unfortunate that we seem to find ourselves in a constant series of disputes with SEC management and its Office of Human Resources regarding work life benefits that really matter to our workforce."