September 2, 2010

Federal Agency Workplace Survey: SEC’s Rank Drops from 11th to 24th

The SEC’s status took a hit recently in the “Best Places to Work” rankings, a survey that evaluates job satisfaction among 263,000 federal agency employees – dropping from 11th place last year to 24th this year (note the agency was 5th in ’07). Here is last year’s rankings; here’s this year’s rankings.

Here’s an excerpt from yesterday’s front-page Washington Post article about the new survey results:

The SEC plummeted from 11th last year to 24th. Management said frontline lawyers, accountants and examiners are still recovering from a restructuring that started last year with the appointment of Chairwoman Mary Schapiro; the replacement of about a dozen senior managers; and a turnaround in culture.

“We would have liked to see different numbers,” said Jeffrey Risinger, SEC’s chief human capital officer. “But we’ve been through a lot in the last 18 months. When you go through those kinds of efforts, communication is challenging. There are times when you don’t have clear answers to communicate.”

The restructuring also exposed long-standing morale problems that predated the financial crisis, including complaints about how the agency promotes and evaluates workers, said Greg Gilman, president of Chapter 293 of the National Treasury Employees Union, which represents 2,700 SEC staffers. “These issues have reached back years,” Gilman said. “We feel we’re now in a position to actually be able to address them.”

The SEC’s Union Wins Battle for Business Casual in the Field (Sometimes)

As this Washington Post article notes, the SEC’s union appears to have won a months-long battle to allow Staffers in the Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations to wear informal attire when they were in the field reviewing the operations of financial firms – so long as the attire matches that of the folks working for the firm under review (as noted in the union’s newsletter, a MOU settled the union’s grievance). To me, this makes sense in this day and age of comfortable living.

It’s been over a decade since the SEC’s employees became unionized. SEC Staffers can join if they are eligible (most supervisors are not eligible) and if they also desire to be in the union. Note it does cost something to be in the union but all employees can benefit from the union’s activities. I’ve read the union represents 2700 employees – but I’m not sure that is the number that have actually joined the union. Here’s the SEC’s union site. A number of other federal agencies also have unions (in fact, the SEC’s union is just a chapter in the Treasury’s union).

Poll: Am I a Securities Law Geek?

Normal people spend Labor Day not laboring if they can avoid it. Unfortunately, most securities lawyers don’t fall into the “normal” category, as they have been molded first by the law school experience and then the law firm culture to work as many hours as humanly possible. Take this anonymous poll to express yourself:

Online Surveys & Market Research

– Broc Romanek