December 2, 2013

Should SEC Staffers Be Required to Punch a Clock?

Although reading from each side’s perspective in this Bloomberg article leads me to believe that SEC Staffers have no reason to be concerned about being watched for taking a lunch that is too long, it does reveal that there are a number of issues between the SEC’s union and management that bears watching. In fact, bigger issues than the ones identified in the article are under the skin of many Staffers. [And for a walk back in time, check out my blog entitled “The Security at the SEC: A 20-Year Timeline.”]

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

“Despite the fact that most SEC employees are often told that they may take an hour for lunch, technically, we are only entitled to thirty minutes,” wrote Greg Gilman, president of the union, in an e-mail sent to SEC workers last week. “Do not fall into the trap of believing that because you are a ‘professional’ the rules do not apply to you.”

Fueling the union’s angst is a new SEC plan to require the use of security cards that record the times people enter and exit the building in its offices across the country, a move Gilman wrote would “substantially increase surveillance.” He said that data from the system in place at the Washington headquarters is increasingly used in cases against employees accused of skipping out of work.

SEC officials said the worries are overblown. While the security system does keep data on employees’ comings and goings, the agency doesn’t check the information unless there is a reasonable complaint that attendance violations are occurring, said John Nester, an SEC spokesman. Those tips come from both managers and co-workers, he said.

Relations have been tense between the SEC’s management and its union, which represents some 3,000 of the agency’s 4,000 employees. Gilman has also criticized a recent decision by Chairman Mary Jo White to give added retirement and vacation benefits only to managers and has accused the commission of reneging on part of a student-loan repayment program. A Government Accountability Office report in July described agency workers as having “low morale” and a “distrust of management.” Gilman’s Oct. 24 note said the group, part of the National Treasury Employees Union, is seeking the services of a federal mediator to help resolve the matter.

This excerpt balances the tone of this article somewhat:

Not all of White’s interactions with the union have been troubled. In July, she and Gilman issued a joint statement lauding a new collective bargaining agreement they negotiated. The contract, set to go into effect shortly, could help tamp down the lunch controversy: One of its provisions would allow some employees to telecommute for as many as five days a week from home — where presumably there are no time clocks installed.

Will the Sequester Force the SEC to Furlough Staffers?

A few weeks ago, the CFTC announced that it was being forced to implement an administrative furlough of up to 14 days, including three days before January 15th. No word yet on what will happen to the SEC Staff along these lines…

The SEC has announced the agenda & panelists for this Thursday’s proxy advisors roundtable.

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– Broc Romanek