6/20/12: The SEC this week entered into a settlement agreement with the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) and the National Treasury Employees Union resolving an unfair labor practices complaint filed against the SEC. The matter had been scheduled for an evidentiary hearing on June 26. The SEC agreed to enter into the settlement 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 would have provided evidence supporting the FLRA’s complaint.
In this case, the FLRA alleged that the SEC engaged in what is known as “surface bargaining” in connection with its negotiations over a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with the Union. "Surface bargaining" is bad faith bargaining without a real intent to reach agreement. The FLRA alleged, among other things, that the SEC needlessly prolonged CBA bargaining by using unreasonable delaying tactics, such as canceling negotiating sessions, flatly refusing to respond to legitimate information requests from the Union, and refusing to include new terms in the CBA that the agency had already agreed to include in a separate 2010 contract between the SEC and the Union.
As indicated above, the FLRA recently provided the SEC with notice that it intended to call Jeff Risinger as a witness at the hearing. Risinger would have provided specific, credible evidence in support of the FLRA's assertion that SEC senior management engaged in bad faith bargaining and unfair labor practices. Risinger served for a short time as SEC management's Chief Negotiator in the CBA negotiations with the Union. As the Union reported here, however, he was removed from the negotiations by SEC Chief Operating Officer Jeff Heslop in the spring of 2011, when SEC senior management decided to take the negotiations in a more negative and combative direction.
Risinger, a former Deputy Director of the Office of Personnel Management, left the SEC in late 2011 to head human resources at another federal agency. At the time of his departure, he provided some of his thoughts on labor-management relations at the SEC here.
The current SEC management CBA negotiating team is comprised of Chief Negotiator Rufus Beatty, current OHR Director Lacey Dingman, OFRMS Director and Chief FOIA Officer Barry Walters, CHRO Regional Director Merri Jo Gillette, DRO Associate Regional Director Kevin Goodman and Corp Fin Assistant Director Amanda Ravitz.
Pursuant to the terms of the settlement with the FLRA, the SEC has agreed to bargain in good faith with the Union over a new collective bargaining agreement, as well as to timely respond to the Union's requests for information and to provide information for which the Union establishes a particularized need. In addition, the SEC also was ordered to comply with the terms of the 2010 memorandum of understanding with the Union in which the agency agreed to include two new provisions in the CBA. The management negotiating team has steadfastly refused to honor that contract over the past year.
The FLRA also ordered Chairman Schapiro to sign and post this notice to all employees on all bulletin boards at the agency, as well as to send the notice electronically to all employees at the agency. The notice will state that the SEC will bargain in good faith with NTEU over a new agreement, will timely respond to Union requests for information, will furnish the Union with information for which it demonstrates a particularized need, and will not in any like or related matter interfere with, restrain, or coerce its employees in the exercise of the rights assured to them by the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute. The Chairman is required to leave the notice posted for a period of at least sixty days. Typically, the FLRA requires notices of this sort to be signed by the highest level official at the agency who had actual responsibility for the violations in question.
“Surface bargaining is the ultimate breach of faith when it comes to dealing with an agency’s own employees,” Chapter 293 President Greg Gilman noted today. “The SEC frontline employees that the Union represents are deeply disappointed with the way the SEC’s senior management team has handled the agency’s human capital issues generally and the bargaining over this new employment contract in particular. But we look forward to moving forward now that SEC senior management has made a binding commitment to, at the least, not violate the law in our ongoing negotiations.”