11/01/06: In an important further development on the Student Loan Repayment Program front, it has come to the attention of NTEU that the SEC is unilaterally imposing further limitations upon the repayment benefits distributed this year to a large number of SEC employees. In its notices to these employees, the SEC appears to be asserting that, if an employee owed between $10,000 and $20,000 when he or she participated in the program last year, this year he or she will only be eligible to receive a payment equal to the amount owed last year, minus $10,000.
The SEC's notices on its new unilateral change to the Student Loan Repayment Program assert that the $10,000 somehow equates to employment and payroll taxes previously paid on prior distributions. The SEC appears to imply that this new change to the program is in some way required by Office of Personnel Management (OPM) regulations. The agency's notices provide a link to a page on OPM's website which merely confirms that Student Loan Repayment Program distributions are taxable as income. In fact, NTEU is not aware of any law, regulation or rule that requires the SEC to impose this new unilateral limitation. NTEU believes that this unilateral change to the program constitutes a violation of past practice, the SEC’s own policies and procedures, Article 25 of the CBA, 5 U.S.C. 7116(a)(1), (7) and (8), and 5 C.F.R. 537.
More broadly, NTEU leaders are extremely disappointed that SEC management has chosen this unnecessarily bellicose approach to an issue of such importance to so many of its employees and their families. If budgetary concerns are driving the agency to exact cutbacks in this highly popular program, we strongly believe that it is in the agency's best interest to comply with its obligation to negotiate whatever changes to the program that it believes are necessary. Simply imposing unilateral changes, however, without affording your union representatives an appropriate opportunity for discussion and negotiation, does little to foster good relations between management and SEC employees. It is regrettable that management has chosen a path that will obviously significantly undermine the goodwill that should be engendered by the Student Loan Repayment Program.
NTEU has filed a national grievance regarding the SEC's changes to the Student Loan Repayment Program. If your Loan Repayment application has been limited as a result of this new unilateral change to the program, please locate your local Steward in the Chapter 293 Directory on this site and contact him or her to file a grievance to protect your rights. Under the grievance procedure, you have 21 days from the denial to file. If you have a question, please contact Katie Nix if you are an employee in D.C. or VA, or Marshall Gandy if you are an employee in a regional or district office.