10/4/07: NTEU and the SEC have reached a tentative agreement on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement at the agency. This agreement was negotiated by Chapter 293’s CBA negotiating team, consisting of Chapter 293 members Greg Gilman, Veronica Lewis, Katie Nix, Dean Suehiro and Netta Williams, and NTEU negotiators Jurmell James and Kevin Fagan. Once the new agreement has been finalized, all members of Chapter 293 will be afforded the opportunity to vote on this new contract, which contains a number of important new rights and benefits for all SEC employees.
New Rights and Benefits
Here are some highlights of the new rights and benefits that may be found in the proposed new agreement:
- Includes a new telework program that permits employees to work from home for three, four and, in some cases, five days per week. This program expands upon the existing program previously negotiated by NTEU, which allows one or two days of recurring telework per week.
- Adds a new 4-10 compressed schedule that will permit employees to work four 10-hour days and take one day off each week. This new schedule is in addition to the 5-4/9 schedule previously bargained-for by NTEU, which allows employees to work eight 9-hour days and take one day off every two weeks.
- Creates a new Leave Sharing Program that will enable enrolled employees who have a medical emergency to use annual leave that has been previously donated to a “bank” of leave by their fellow co-workers.
- Frees employees to wear casual clothing when they travel outside of the office to conduct inspections, examinations, testimony or meetings, when such an attire standard has been established by those outside the agency with whom the employees will be interacting. Previously, employees were required to wear business attire in all such situations.
- Provides for compensatory time off for travel.
- Creates a new Upward Mobility Program for grades 7 and below with five slots.
- Provides for lactation stations for nursing mothers at SEC facilities.
- Provides for the SEC to increase public transportation subsidies when the Department of Transportation authorizes a government-wide increase.
- Increases the maximum family income for receiving childcare subsidies to $60,000, and increases the amount of the subsidies provided by the SEC.
- Extends the period during which employees may take a lunch break by an hour each day, to 11AM to 3PM. Previously employees were required to take lunch between 11:30AM and 2:30PM.
- Permits employees to come to work a half-hour earlier on a flexible schedule, by reducing the agency’s core hours to 10AM to 3PM, and by extending the afternoon flexible band to 3PM to 7PM.
- Allows for the retroactive approval of credit hours in appropriate situations.
- Eliminates the overtime compensation cap of two hours per day.
- Maintains the current level of benefits in the popular Student Loan Repayment Program.
Important Defense Against Give-Backs:
In addition to the numerous gains provided in the new contract, it is important to note that Chapter 293’s negotiating team was also successful in blocking a number of unfortunate agency proposals that would have been extremely poor choices for the SEC -- once again demonstrating the continuing need for an active, vital and strong union to advocate for employee rights at the agency. Those blocked proposals included:
- Management’s effort to permit managers to take employees off a 5-4/9 work schedule at any time at their discretion.
- Management’s initiative to prohibit numerous items of clothing and return to a restrictive attire standard.
- Management’s effort to take away the right to grieve merit pay determinations.
- Management’s proposal to deem all union arbitrations irrevocably withdrawn if not scheduled within a set period of time, even if the union had attempted to schedule them.
- Management’s attempt to reduce the amount of time within which the union is required to serve proposals in negotiations over nationwide changes to working conditions.
- Management’s plan to require employees who are required to request advanced sick leave to deal with a serious illness to take a minimum of five consecutive sick days.
- Management’s try at taking away the right to earn credit hours while in travel status.
- Management’s bid to eliminate Upward Mobility at the agency.
- Management’s effort to reduce the amount of official time available to the stewards who represent SEC employees.
- Management’s proposal to decrease the time for the union to submit its proposals after notification of a major office move.
- Management’s initiative to increase the amount of time before the union may bargain again over provisions contained in the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
The new agreement also provides a number of procedural improvements, including:
- Requiring the SEC to provide annual reports to the union regarding the compressed and non-conforming flexitour work schedules being utilized by employees, broken down by division, office, field office, position/series and grade.
- Increasing the transparency of the special act award process by requiring information about the awards to be provided to the union, broken down by type, amount, and recipient’s position, grade and Division/Office.
- Requiring the agency to provide reasons for a denial of a work schedule request, or a travel-related request, to be provided in writing upon request.
- Increasing to four the number of employees who participate in meetings of the Labor Management Relations Committee, which exchanges information and discusses matters of concern or interest to either management or the union, and increasing the number of the meetings of this committee.
- Requiring that hardship reassignment requests be forwarded to the Division/Office/Regional Office in the request within one week of receipt.
- Requiring documentation of a detail to a higher graded position by a Standard Form 50.
- Clarifying precisely what documentation constitutes “administratively acceptable” evidence of sick leave.
- Providing that the SEC cannot deny a grievance solely due to an incorrect citation.
- Permitting the union to make new information requests during bargaining over changes at the agency if they receive new information regarding a proposed change.
Chapter 293 will continue to keep you informed regarding the process for voting on the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. Please check the website regularly.