10/1/12: NTEU this week requested that the Federal Service Impasses Panel (FSIP) assert jurisdiction over the impasse in the negotiations between the Union and the SEC over a new collective bargaining agreement. After a year and half of negotiations, the SEC and the Union are at impasse over several substantive issues. The matter will likely be assigned to a member of the FSIP to assist with resolution of the remaining disputes.
This trip to the FSIP comes on the heels of the SEC's settlement of an unfair labor practices complaint lodged against it by the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) alleging bad faith negotiating tactics. This summer, the SEC entered into an unprecedented settlement agreement with FLRA and NTEU resolving those charges. To NTEU's knowledge, no other federal agency has ever been successfully prosecuted for engaging in bad faith negotiations. The SEC agreed to enter into the settlement only after receiving the FLRA's evidence and witness list, which indicated that the FLRA intended to call SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro as well as Jeff Risinger, the SEC's former Director of the Office of Human Resources (OHR) and Chief Human Capital Officer, who was prepared to provide testimony supporting the FLRA’s complaint. As a result of the settlement, SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro was required to post this notice in all SEC offices across the country.
Telework is one of the central issues still remaining in dispute in the CBA talks. The Union has continued to propose making the Expanded Telework Pilot Program, under which certain employees may telework for three or more days per week, available to other employees who meet eligibility requirements and obtain required supervisory approval. The SEC, however, has proposed to eliminate this program entirely, even for those who have been successful participants for several years now under the last contract. These employees have met or exceeded every single metric that was put in place to measure the success of the program.
The SEC has not articulated a reason for its regressive proposal to discontinue this highly successful program. In fact, the 2010 Telework Enhancement Act passed by Congress promotes the expansion of telework opportunities in the federal government, not diminishing them. Other agencies, such as the newly formed Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) are offering telework routinely (in fact, the CFPB has been recruiting SEC employees and its competitive benefits have made it an attractive alternative). Furthermore, the SEC is currently suffering from office space problems due to senior management's ill-advised decision to enter into the Constitution Center lease in DC, which led directly to the agency losing its leasing authority and being placed under GSA. These space issues could be alleviated considerable if the SEC would simply utilize telework more liberally like other federal agencies.
In addition to telework, other issues that remain to be resolved include alternative work schedules, upward mobility, the rules to follow during a government shutdown or furlough, and the reimbursement of bar dues. It will likely take months for the FSIP to reach a final resolution.
"It is unfortunate that the Union was required to seek the help of the Federal Service Impasses Panel to resolve our CBA negotiations," Chapter 293 President Greg Gilman commented today. "With SEC employee morale at its lowest in years, we just do not understand what senior management is attempting to accomplish. The Union has made every effort to provide constructive proposals to address any real concerns that have been raised by management. Now it is time for the agency to explain its positions to a third party so that we can get this resolved."