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 meeting with the Division of Corporation Finance, a committee of Corp Fin employees came up with this list of questions for the Chairman to address. A small group of Corp Fin staffers delivered the questions to him a few days before the meeting. At the meeting, however, Chairman Levitt refused to answer the questions, which led the employees who were present to actually boo him. This event proved to be a catalyst for change. Although SEC management continued to attempt to thwart NTEU’s organizing efforts (even hiring a union-busting law firm to assist), in 2000 a large majority of SEC employees voted in favor of exclusive representation by NTEU.
Years later, Chairman Levitt told NTEU leadership that his greatest regret as Chairman was that, during his tenure, the staff voted overwhelmingly for representation by NTEU. While Mr. Levitt may have regretted it, NTEU has undeniably been an extremely positive agent for SEC employees over the past fifteen years. Consider that list of concerns that employees brought to management back in 1999, and how much has changed with respect to these very issues due directly to NTEU’s representation:
- Inadequate Pay: NTEU brought us the Pay Parity law that significantly increased our salaries by bringing them more in line with those at the other financial regulators. Thereafter, NTEU negotiated several pay agreements that produced more salary bumps and made SEC’s pay scale one of the highest among the financial regulators. In addition, NTEU recently brought us Pay Transition.
- Telework: NTEU brought us a robust telework program, and then succeeded in expanding it. Eligible SEC employees may now telework up to five days per week.
- Alternative Work Schedules: NTEU brought us 5-4-9 and 4-10 schedules, and now SEC Flex, greatly expanding flexibility for SEC employees.
- Child Care: NTEU negotiated for the Harbor at Station Place, as well as back up child care arrangements in the regions.
- Uncompensated Overtime: NTEU ended the SEC’s violations of Fair Labor Standards Act, and got eligible employees back pay.
- Transit Benefits: NTEU got the transit subsidy increased, and won a permanent increase to $250 per month.
- Professional Dues Reimbursement: NTEU obtained up to $400 per year in reimbursements for bar dues, CPA license fees, and other professional credential expenses.
- Health Insurance Premiums: NTEU secured increased agency contributions to our health insurance premiums, saving employees up to $1,300 per year.
- Supplemental Retirement Contribution: NTEU negotiated an additional 3% supplemental retirement match that is worth $4,500 per year to an employee earning $150,000.
These are just a few of the worklife improvements that NTEU has succeeded in bringing to the SEC. Happy fifteenth birthday NTEU Chapter 293! We hope to celebrate many more in the years ahead.