Update on CBA Negotiations – Dispute Continues as Union Invoked Federal Fact-Finder Nears Decision


6/6/13:  An independent fact-finder this week asked for an additional two weeks to finalize his decision on the impasse in the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) negotiations between the SEC and the Union. When the fact-finder issues his decision, it will be submitted to the Federal Service Impasses Panel (FSIP) for final resolution. The FSIP is an independent federal adjudicator that will impose an agreement upon the parties because they were unable to reach an agreement in a collaborative fashion.

“Bringing a contract negotiation to the FSIP is the equivalent of bringing a dispute to court,” NTEU Chapter 293 President Greg Gilman noted this afternoon. “It costs both sides a lot of money, it drags out a final resolution, it leads to solutions that are imposed and not necessarily in anyone’s best interests, and ultimately it is bad for employee morale,” he said. “I wish that we were in a better place on these issues that matter to SEC employees.”

After the fact-finder reports the case to the FSIP, both sides will have an opportunity to make additional submissions. Then the FSIP will take the matter under advisement, and issue a final decision. That process could take until next fall to complete, or even longer, depending upon the schedule of the FSIP.

During the CBA negotiating process over the past couple of years, there were a large number of CBA articles that were put on the table by SEC management, primarily to reduce a number of existing employee rights and benefits. Over the past year, the Union succeeded in obtaining management’s agreement to withdraw most of these issues. Consequently, the management negotiating team has often pointed to these articles as support for its assertion that the parties have “reached agreement on most of the issues” at the table.

In fact, however, nearly all of the CBA articles that are of most importance to large numbers of SEC employees remain unresolved at this time. These include key provisions on telework, alternative work schedules, reimbursement of professional licensing fees, upward mobility and implementation of fair and equitable procedures for use in the event of a government shutdown or furlough.

"The term of our contract is only three years, and every time we negotiate a new term it takes almost as long as the term itself to negotiate a new agreement with the SEC,” NTEU Chapter 293 negotiating team member Lawrence Pisto stated this morning. “We have been at the table for over two years now. We have only been asking to preserve the work/life balance that we currently enjoy, and our proposals all reflect mainstream rights and benefits that are commonly provided to employees in the private sector.”