Union News Archive

Senate Wing
09/16/2015
A group of senators led by Senator Ben Cardin (MD), has introduced S. 2035, a bill for both excepted and furloughed federal employees in the event of a possible government shutdown. While NTEU continues to urge Congress to provide agencies with Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 funds before the end of FY 2015 on Thursday, October 1st, we have also been working with members of Congress to address pay and leave issues for both excepted and furloughed employees should a shutdown actually occur on October 1st. As in past government shutdowns, some employees will be deemed “excepted”  by their agencies and... Read more ...
Newborn Baby
09/16/2015
Yesterday, Sen. Brian Schatz (HI) and Sen. Barbara Mikulski (MD) introduced legislation to provide six weeks of paid leave for federal workser for the birth, adoption or fostering of a child. In introducing the legislation, which is supported by NTEU, the Senators pointed out that the U.S. is the only industrial nation in the world without paid parental leave. Although the Family and Medical Leave Act allows employees to take 12 weeks of unpaid leave for medical and family issues, many working families cannot afford to go without a paycheck. Sen. Schatz’s legislation would ease the pressure... Read more ...
09/03/2015
Tuesday, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and the Department of Defense (DOD) announced the awarding of the contract to provide identity theft protection and credit monitoring to the 21.5 million individuals affected by the OPM background investigations breach. First announced on June 10, this massive breach involves the theft of Standard Forms 85, 85P, and 86 that are filled out by federal job applicants, employees, members of the military, and contractors, as well as other background materials and records.   
The $133 million contract was awarded to ID Experts (Identity Theft Guard... Read more ...
08/31/2015
Last week President Obama sent Congressional leaders a formal letter transmitting an alternative pay plan for the calendar year 2016 pay raise for federal workers, providing for an average pay raise of 1.3%  (SEC employees receive the annual pay raise in January pursuant to the Compensation Agreement negotiated by NTEU in 2014).
Under current law, absent congressional action to establish a pay raise, the annual, across-the-board pay raise for most pay systems is set automatically using a formula tied to the Department of Labor’s Employment Cost Index (ECI), which measures the rise in private-... Read more ...
08/17/2015
The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has announced select Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance Program (FEGLI) premium rate changes starting January 1, 2016.  Additionally, OPM will be holding a FEGLI Open Season from September 1-30, 2016.    
Authorized by law, FEGLI is a life insurance program for federal and postal employees and retirees. OPM is charged with administering the program and setting premiums, and contracts with Metropolitan Life Insurance Company (Metlife) to provide the insurance coverage. In Fiscal Year 2013, over 75,000 death and dismemberment claims were paid,... Read more ...
Identity Theft
08/06/2015
This week, NTEU received a briefing from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) on the recent background investigations breach affecting approximately 21.5 million individuals. First announced on June 10, this massive breach involves the theft of Standard Forms 85, 85P and 86 that are filled out by federal job applicants, employees and contractors, as well as other background materials and records, including investigative notes. 
In this week’s briefing, OPM outlined the inter-agency contracting task force that is responsible for the coming notifications for affected individuals, that... Read more ...
07/18/2015
Given the surge of information and developments over the last week, below is a comprehensive update regarding all of NTEU’s activities to date in the wake of the June Office of Personnel Management (OPM) announcements of massive personnel and investigation breaches.
Last Friday, OPM Director Katherine Archuleta resigned. Beth Cobert is now OPM Acting Director; until last week, she was serving as Deputy Director for Management at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). NTEU National President Colleen M. Kelley knows and has worked with Beth Cobert in her OMB role as co-chair of the National... Read more ...
07/13/2015
NTEU-supported legislation has been introduced in the Senate and will soon be introduced in the House of Representatives to provide lifetime coverage to individuals affected in the recently announced OPM personnel records and background investigation breaches.  Senator Ben Cardin (MD), joined by Senators Mikulski (MD), Kaine (VA) and Warner (VA), have introduced S. 1746, the Recover Act, Reducing the Effects of the Cyberattack on OPM Victims Emergency Response Act of 2015. Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC) is expected to soon introduce similar legislation in the House. 
The... Read more ...
07/13/2015
OHR recently briefed the union on the SEC's progress towards setting up supplemental retirement match accounts pursuant to the compensation agreement with the union. The agency is close to signing a contract with a vendor, and currently expects to have the accounts set up by September 30, the end of Fiscal Year 2015. The accounts will be cash accounts, but the SEC has now agreed to provide a "sweep" feature which will allow employees to shift the funds on a period basis into their TSP accounts, where they will have investment options. Pursuant to IRS rules, there is a waiting period before... Read more ...
07/13/2015
Fifteen years ago, SEC employees voted overwhelmingly in favor of representation by NTEU, resulting in the creation of NTEU Chapter 293, your exclusive representative for workplace issues. As we celebrate this important anniversary of our organization, it is a great time to look back on where we came from.
Sixteen years ago, in June 1999, during the early stages of NTEU’s organizing drive at the SEC, then Chairman Arthur Levitt held a series of meetings with various offices and divisions as part of his ongoing efforts to stem the drive for employee representation. Prior to the Chairman’s... Read more ...
07/13/2015
As the Senate prepares to consider a highway funding bill, we have learned that one of funding mechanisms under consideration to offset the costs of the highway bill is to lower the rate of return on the G Fund. The G Fund rate of return uses a formula identical to one used by Social Security to fund its disability program. Some Members of Congress are interested in lowering the rate of return on the G Fund and using those savings to fund other programs. 
NTEU strongly opposes such a move. Lowering the rate would, even in the words of the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board, render the... Read more ...
Hacker
07/09/2015
Today NTEU received a briefing from OMB and OPM on the recent data breaches. The call provided some new information on the second data breach that affected background investigation information. While we were not told the number of people affected by the second breach, we have since learned the number is 21.5 million. We were told that sensitive information was stolen from forms SF 85’s and SF 86’s filled out by federal job applicants, employees and contractors. Social Security Numbers were stolen for the individual, as well as in some cases, the spouse or partner.  Individuals who filled out... Read more ...
Identity Theft
07/08/2015
NTEU has filed a lawsuit against OPM in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in connection with last month’s sweeping data breaches, which exposed the personal information of millions of federal employees. In addition to basic information typically found in personnel files, background investigation materials for current, former, and prospective federal employees were also compromised. Those materials include inherently private information provided by individuals who put their trust in OPM to keep that information confidential.
As its own Inspector General has made... Read more ...
Capitol Dome
04/14/2015
As you know, the House and Senate passed budget resolutions that contain substantial cuts to federal employee benefits.  When Congress returns from its recess, each chamber will appoint conferees to bargain on a final budget resolution. The next budget action will be expected on or soon after April 15, 2015. NTEU wants to be sure that a final budget resolution contains none of the harmful cuts contained in the current House and Senate versions.
The House version:
Cuts $278 billion from the federal workforce over 10 years;
Cuts the federal workforce by 10%;
Requires federal employees to pay 6... Read more ...
02/11/2015
2/11/15: Anthem Health Insurance announced last week that it had been a victim of a cyber-attack, resulting in unauthorized access to Anthem plans’ IT systems. According to Anthem, while not all nation-wide Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) enrollees have been impacted, Blue Cross Blue Shield enrollees whose plans—such as Blue Card—have utilized the Anthem IT systems for back-end claims processing may also be impacted.  Anthem Health Insurance, part of the BCBS system, offers health plans under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP).
Personally-identifiable information (PII),... Read more ...
02/11/2015
2/11/15: President Obama’s budget recommendation for Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 includes a 1.3% across-the-board pay raise for both federal civilian and military personnel.  The proposed 1.3% pay adjustment would be effective January 2016. Purauant to the compensation agreement between the SEC and NTEU, SEC employees would receive this raise if it goes into effect.
While the level of the proposed average raise — 1.3 percent — is low, NTEU is pleased that the White House has included an overall pay raise in its budget proposal to Congress. However, NTEU is strongly advocating legislation that would... Read more ...
01/28/2015
1/28/15:  Last week, NTEU Chapter 293 filed a national grievance against the SEC over its latest violation of the collective bargaining agreement with the union and refusal to provide a benefit to which SEC employees are entitled. Specifically, the SEC's Office of Human Resources (OHR) has refused to implement recently enacted retroactive transit benefits and has refused to bargain over the issue. In related news, the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) yesterday upheld a federal arbitrator's decision that another federal agency violated its collective bargaining agreement with NTEU by... Read more ...
01/20/2015
1/21/15:  In yesterday’s edition of SEC Today, the SEC’s Office of Human Resources (“OHR”) provided an update concerning certain enhancements to the union-negotiated Student Loan Repayment Program (“SLRP”) at the SEC including: (i) allowing newer “probationary” employees to participate in the program immediately upon being hired; (ii) a new “rolling application” process that will allow employees to apply anytime during the year, commencing this April; and (iii) a new option to receive regular monthly or bi-weekly disbursements under the SLRP rather than a single lump sum payment, which can be... Read more ...
01/17/2015
1/16/15: Pointing out the fact that the U.S. lags behind almost every country in ensuring some form of paid parental leave, and that workplace flexibilities help in recruiting and retaining employees, the President issued an Executive Memorandum directing agencies to ensure that their policies offer 240 hours of advanced sick leave in connection with the birth or adoption of a child or for other sick leave eligible uses.  In addition, the memo directs agencies to offer the maximum amount of advanced annual leave permitted by law for bonding with a healthy newborn or newly adopted child.  Sick... Read more ...
11/13/2014
11/13/14: OPM has notified NTEU that the Federal Flexible Spending Account Program (FSAFEDS) is increasing the maximum contribution to the program by $50 to $2,550, due to inflation, as authorized by the IRS.  This increase will be for the 2015 benefit year.  This change will occur alongside two other FSAFEDS changes: health care and limited expense flexible spending accounts (FSAs) will no longer have a grace period, instead, qualifying participants will be able to carry over up to $500 of unused funds to the next plan year; and, the minimum annual election for all three types of FSAs will... Read more ...
11/13/2014
WHEN: On Tuesday, December 2, 2014, from 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM Eastern Time, NTEU Chapter 293 will hold its annual member meeting. Union members in Washington, D.C., may want to arrive between 11:30 AM and 12:00 PM to ensure that their names are checked prior to 12:00 PM. After the meeting, we will serve a barbecue lunch to all members in the Multipurpose Room in Headquarters.
NONMEMBERS:  The majority of bargaining unit (non-management) employees at the SEC are members of the union. Any bargaining unit employee who is not yet a member of the union who would like to attend the meeting and... Read more ...
08/04/2014
8/4/14: Last week, Representative Edwards (D-MD) introduced H.R. 5338, the Federal Employee Pension Fairness Act, which will repeal the increased FERS contributions for employees hired in 2012 and 2013.  This legislation will return federal employee contributions to the original 0.8%.  You will recall that NTEU objected to those pension increases at the time and we have continued to object.  As NTEU National President Colleen Kelley wrote to Representative Edwards, “Increasing employee pension contributions with no corresponding increase in benefits is little more than a tax – a selective tax... Read more ...
08/01/2014
8/1/14:  Last month, senior management in the SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE) reneged on an agreement with the union to implement a modest joint labor-management pilot awards program at two regional offices of the agency. The proposed pilot, which was jointly developed by both union and management officials on the SEC’s national Labor Management Forum (LMF), was intended to address longstanding problems with the SEC’s special act awards process. To date, the union has been blocked by senior management from implementing any significant proposals recommended by... Read more ...
07/17/2014
7/17/14: Last week, the SEC’s Office of Human Resources (OHR) announced that it would be offering Voluntary Early Retirement Authority (VERA) and/or Voluntary Separation Incentive Payments (VSIP) to eligible employees commencing this week. The union has challenged OHR’s process for determining who will receive the limited number of VERA/VSIP incentive payments, as well as OHR’s refusal to bargain with the union over how these determinations would be made.
OHR reported that it received authority for 19 VSIP “buyouts” of up to $25,000 per employee, and that they would be allotted on a first... Read more ...
07/07/2014
As a result of the union’s ongoing efforts, the SEC has now agreed to expand professional dues reimbursement to cover many more relevant credentials. 
When the SEC’s Office of Human Resources (OHR) originally implemented the dues reimbursement program in May, it took a very narrow view of the dues that should be reimbursed, limiting it to three types of credentials. The union immediately objected and notified the agency that it would file a national grievance over the issue. Simultaneously, the union reached out to SEC employees and surveyed them on the credentials that they utilize in their... Read more ...

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