OCC Bargaining Update - April 27, 2016

Take the Survey. Be Candid About Working Conditions.

There has been much discussion of late about two key surveys, the Engagement Survey recently conducted by OCC, and the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS), launched this week and administered by the Office of Personnel Management.

In recent communications to NTEU members, NTEU President Tony Reardon asked all federal employees represented by NTEU to respond frankly to the FEVS and share their views on pay, workload, job satisfaction and other workplace issues.

NTEU is urging employees to take the survey and outline both the positive and the negative aspects of your work life. Each year, survey results demonstrate how committed federal employees are and how seriously they take their work. The survey also measures employee satisfaction across government. You can see high level survey results.

“We ask employees to respond candidly about the impact of inadequate pay raises, budget cuts, lack of promotional opportunities, increased workloads and management actions on your work life,” Reardon said.

He added that he recognizes that, in some agencies, employees express frustration that each year they take the survey and see little to no action on the results. However, he asks employees to consider the following:

  • If front-line employees do not take the survey, only managers will take the survey and your voice will not be heard.
  • The survey results are helpful to us at the bargaining table and in labor-management forums.
  • The results are also used to compile the annual “Best Places to Work” ratings, which rank agencies and attract significant media coverage.
  • If there are issues that need to be addressed, we need to keep the pressure on and the survey results help us do that.

Separately, we know that some of you may have recently received an email encouraging you to take the FEVS, while attacking Comptroller Curry and his leadership team for their actions with respect to the OCC Engagement Survey and other matters. NTEU was not in any way associated with this email, and we would never support or engage in personal attacks on the Comptroller or other OCC leaders.

However, we have also been highly critical of the OCC’s handling of the Engagement Survey process. In fact, at our April 20 Labor-Management forum meeting, we warned management about reading too much into the “improvements” in the scores, since the drop in the participation rate could more than account for that “improvement.” We also said that we had been hearing that some employees were giving inflated scores in their responses just so they wouldn’t have to deal with any issues identified.

This is consistent with our belief that in far too many cases, the “action planning” process, ostensibly designed to address issues raised by employees in the survey, has become a “check-the-box” exercise without any meaningful attempt to address the major issues identified. And when issues have been identified as outside the scope of the work unit’s control and in need of being elevated, there has been no follow through by management at the higher levels to address these issues. NTEU has continually and consistently provided feedback to OCC management on what steps it needs to take to make the process meaningful and credible, but OCC has failed to act. Unfortunately, the agency’s attempts to engage its employees have been so poorly implemented that it now seems that it has resulted in employees feeling even more disengaged and disillusioned.

Bargaining Update

NTEU is awaiting a decision from a member of the Federal Service Impasses Panel to resolve the dispute in bargaining over OCC compensation. The decision is expected sometime in May, and will result in changes to Article 39 of the Collective Bargaining agreement, which covers Compensation and Benefits. As explained in our earlier messages, the dispute is focused on two issues, Merit Pay and Geo Pay.

  • On Merit Pay, NTEU has proposed increasing funding from 3.1% to 4%. We have also proposed that the OCC suspend its use of performance ratings to provide different levels of Merit Pay until it has completed the ongoing project to identify and implement improvements to the Performance Management system, as the evidence indicates that ratings under the current system are not fairly distributed.
  • On Geo Pay, NTEU has proposed that the OCC adopt a system of Locality Pay similar to the program used by FDIC and other financial regulators, using the same data on private sector salaries as used throughout the rest of the federal government for its locality pay program, rather than the methodologically flawed system that OCC alone is using.

For further details on the bargaining dispute, please read our last update or all of our negotiation updates.

If you have further questions, please contact your NTEU representative.