A Reflection on SEC Labor Management Relations, by Jeff Risinger, Former SEC Associate Director of OHR


10/7/11: Jeff Risinger served as the Associate Director of the Office of Human Resources at the SEC for seven years, before leaving the agency last month. He served as the key point of contact for employee representatives at the agency, the Co-Chairman of the SEC's Labor-Management Forum with NTEU Chapter 293 President Greg Gilman, and the Chief Negotiator for the SEC in the Collective Bargaining Negotiations until his removal from that process by senior management last spring. Towards the end of his tenure at the SEC, Jeff offered to share some of his thoughts on labor-management relations at the agency on the Union's website...

As I am in the last few days of my SEC tenure, I wanted to share some thoughts with you about the transition that I have seen in Labor/Management relations in my nearly 7 years at the Agency.

When I joined this organization, there were many contentious issues that had to be dealt with; performance management grievances, the infamous WIGI case, FLSA cases etc. Over time, we worked through each of these issues and together with Union leadership slowly moved the SEC to a more positive and collaborative relationship.

Evidence of this new relationship is all around us. Just last year, the Division of Enforcement leadership team and Union leaders paved the way for a different kind of Labor/Management relationship by completely re-structuring the Division without one day of formal negotiations. There were some bumps along the way, but I give great credit to both leadership teams for engaging in productive and professional dialogue and reaching a successful conclusion. This type of success is not something that shows up on a monthly dashboard report or can be easily reduced to a statistic. It is an approach that takes hard work, commitment and great skill to achieve.

The SEC and NTEU learned a great deal from this initial example and moved quickly into another major restructuring, this time in OCIE. The results of this collaborative endeavor have simple been amazing. The senior leaders within OCIE demonstrated great leadership by engaging Greg Gilman and other Union leaders before there were even concrete ideas to discuss. It was clear that change would be necessary and the collaborative process just seemed natural. Along the way, over 450 bargaining unit members engaged in a significant way to contribute to OCIE’s success going forward. It has been an amazing process to watch and it demonstrates true authentic leadership from both OCIE management and Union leadership. On the surface, a command and control approach might have seemed simpler for such a major undertaking but I am convinced that the quality of this restructuring effort is a direct result of the partnership that was forged between the OCIE leadership team and the NTEU leadership team. This effort was recently recognized during the SEC Annual Awards Ceremony when the OCIE/NTEU Team received the SEC Labor Management Award for their efforts.

A little over a year ago, President Obama, recognizing the importance of engaging with employees and their representatives in this manner, issued Executive Order 13522 calling for the establishment of partnerships between Agency and Union leadership across the Federal Government. Because we have had stories like these to tell, we have been recognized by John Berry, the Director of OPM and a direct report to the President of the United States, as having made great progress in implementing a true Labor/Management partnership. These partnerships however take work and long-term commitment as any successful relationship does and I encourage you to remain supportive of the great work that NTEU leadership has put into this effort. I am confident that it will bring lasting value to the SEC and allow it to more effectively execute the critical mission that we all come to work every day to pursue.

In my time here, I have dealt with many of you on many different issues. I want to thank you for the seriousness in which you take your role and for the professionalism that you have extended to me.

I will miss working with you and wish you all the best!

Take Care!

Jeff Risinger