1/31/07: On Monday, January 29, Chapter 293 held a member representational meeting at the Headquarters auditorium which was broadcast to all of the regional and district offices in the SEC. The purpose of this meeting was to provide updates on the status of the ongoing Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations and compensation issues.
Chapter 293 President Greg Gilman opened the meeting with remarks about the importance of the representational work on the CBA and compensation issues that Chapter 293 is doing for members across the country. He thanked the many employees who volunteer their time and energy to help improve the agency and the work lives of their coworkers by stepping up to the plate to serve as stewards, officers and representatives in the union.
NTEU attorney Kevin Fagan provided a brief update on the Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations. Mr. Fagan reported that the negotiations have been ongoing since May of last year, and cover a wide variety of topics. He noted that there are several issues of particular importance to employees, including NTEU’s efforts to increase alternative work schedules at the SEC by, among other things, adding a new 4/10 work schedule, and the union’s push to expand the agency’s telework program. He also reported that NTEU’s bargaining team remains steadfast in its opposition to management’s continuing efforts to shift to a “business casual” dress code.
NTEU attorney Steve Keller discussed the current status of compensation issues at the SEC. Mr. Keller explained that Chapter 293’s negotiations with management over compensation issues had gone to the Federal Service Impasses Panel (“FSIP”) last year, which issued a decision imposing a compensation arrangement upon the agency in October 2006. (Chapter 293 has previously reported on this decision here, and a copy of the decision and order may be reviewed here). Mr. Keller explained that, in that decision, FSIP limited the SEC’s discretion on compensation issues by providing that, if management claims that it has insufficient funds available to fully fund pay raises and merit pay under its congressional appropriation, it must first brief NTEU, and thereafter it must either re-open negotiations or use available funds to maintain current pay and benefit levels, and then provide compensation increases in a prescribed manner. He also explained that FSIP required that future merit pay increases must be tied to employee ratings under a new five-level performance evaluation system, which will be redesigned based on recommendations from a joint labor-management committee, and that the SEC must maintain funding levels for merit increases going forward. Chapter 293 volunteers will participate on this committee to develop new performance management standards at the agency over the next couple of years, and we will keep you posted regarding the progress of that effort.
Mr. Keller also discussed how FSIP’s order gave SEC management the discretion to unilaterally determine the pay increase associated with each rating level. He and Chapter President Gilman explained to the employees that NTEU will continue to use every tool at its disposal to push management to exercise that discretion in fashion that is reasonable and fair to employees.
Mr. Keller also briefly discussed the union's current efforts to increase the SEC's match in employee TSP retirement accounts. Mr. Gilman reiterated the importance of members volunteering for the Chapter 293 Legislative Committee to assist in making this happen.
Most of the offices reported having an excellent turnout for this informational meeting. Chapter 293 leaders strongly urge NTEU members to attend such informational meetings, so that they can be informed regarding important issues that will have an impact upon them, rather than relying upon rumors and word of mouth. In an environment that continues to be tough for labor-management negotiations, your union representatives are working hard on your behalf, and will continue to do so in the future.