NTEU's Important Role in Leading SEC to Rank Third Among Federal Agencies


4/27/07: The Partnership for Public Service and American University’s Institute for the Study of Public Policy Implementation recently released biennial rankings of the “best places to work in the federal government.” These rankings were based upon a survey of federal employees at a number of agencies across the government. The SEC ranked third among federal agencies overall, in large part due to NTEU's efforts. The agency, however, has work ahead to improve the work environment for all of its employees.

The survey that these rankings were based upon is the OPM Federal Human Capital Survey, which was conducted last summer. Click here to learn more about this survey. Of course, it is important to consider the underlying data when weighing the results of such a survey. In this case, overall participation in the survey by SEC employees was approximately 55%. Demographic information about these respondents indicates that approximately one third of them were team leaders, supervisors, managers or executives, while approximately two thirds of the respondents were non-supervisory bargaining unit employees. Approximately half of the bargaining unit chose not to participate in the survey. Click here for a report on the demographic data.

It is important to note that, back in 2001, when SEC employees were surveyed about job satisfaction, they were overwhelmingly dissatisfied with their compensation and a number of other nonpay issues related to their work lives. What has been the most significant change at the agency that has led to vast improvements in these areas? Union representation of SEC employees by NTEU -- which commenced in June 2000 and has been one of the primary factors supporting steadily increasing employee satisfaction with their work-life balance at the agency.

Indeed, many of the categories that the SEC scored well on in the latest survey were the direct result of the profound impact that NTEU has had upon improving your work life at the agency over the past several years. Compensation has vastly improved due to the union’s work to obtain passage of the pay parity legislation, as well as its continuing efforts each year to fight for higher federal pay raises. NTEU also has negotiated and obtained for you a host of important benefits that afford you a better work-life balance, such as alternative schedules, including 5-4/9 and flexible schedules, the right to telework (work from home) up to two days a week, the right to earn and use credit hours, and the Student Loan Repayment Program. The union has achieved these and many other important benefits for you, on many occasions, only after facing stiff opposition from management, sometimes including the necessity of litigation.

In fact, upon reflection, it should come as no surprise that NTEU represents the employees at five of the top ten agencies listed as the best places to work, including the SEC (3), the Department of Justice (5), the Social Security Administration (7) and the Environmental Protection Agency (9). Another NTEU-represented agency, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, placed first in the area of pay and benefits, with the SEC placing third. As the largest non-postal worker federal employees’ union, NTEU has effectively negotiated for better pay, benefits and working conditions across the federal government. NTEU was, in fact, invited to accept the SEC's award with an SEC representative earlier this month in recognition of the union’s important role in achieving this honor.

SEC management has expressed its pride in the agency's recent ranking as one of the "best places to work" in the federal government. One great way for agency management to utilize this news as a team-building opportunity would be to work together with NTEU to continue to improve the work lives of SEC employees in the future, rather than opposing the union's efforts to achieve that goal.