9/5/12: The SEC and NTEU recently jointly announced fitness center discounts for SEC regional offices. While the Union agreed to offer input on these modest discounts as an interim solution for regional employees, we are continuing to pursue a fitness center subsidy as a better longterm answer for the regions.
For more than a year, the Union's Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiating team has repeatedly proposed that the SEC provide a fitness center benefit to regional office employees, to encourage a healthy lifestyle at the agency. Our preferred approach to this issue is for the agency to provide a direct subsidy to regional office employees who pay to attend a fitness center. The subsidy would be roughly equivalent to the value of the subsidized fitness center that is currently provided to Headquarters employees. Unfortunately, however, management's team has refused to accommodate this modest Union proposal, or even to discuss it seriously during the CBA negotiations. Currently, the Union's proposal is one of the provisions that is heading to the Federal Service Impasses Panel for final resolution.
Health and wellness benefits such as the one proposed by the Union are much more than just a way of showing appreciation for employees. They save money. As the cost of healthcare continues to rise, more and more companies are giving their employees ways to prevent illness and reduce health risks through such programs. In the long run, these employees save money for their organization by avoiding costly health insurance claims and taking fewer sick days.
"We believe that the SEC should encourage fitness center memberships for all of its employees," Chapter 293 President Greg Gilman said this week. "While the very small discounts currently being offered are a step in the right direction, we believe that there should be some parity for the regions with what the SEC currently offers in Headquarters. We intend to continue to press for this important benefit and to try to make it as flexible as possible for regional office employees."