OCC Bargaining Update - December 16, 2015


OCC Delays Hold Up Merit Payouts

As you know, NTEU reopened the Compensation and Benefits article of the contract in May to address key issues raised by OCC employees and to ensure that OCC remains competitive in attracting and retaining a talented workforce.

OCC resisted actual bargaining over NTEU’s proposals until late September. Now, OCC will not agree to any changes to the merit pay system and only minimal changes to Geo pay, despite evidence of significant problems with both systems. NTEU and OCC established a group more than three years ago because it was jointly recognized that the Performance Management (PM) process, which drives the merit pay system, needed significant improvement.

Despite the long­time recognition that the PM system needs to be substantially revised, a solicitation for a consultant contract to oversee the process was only recently posted. Meanwhile, employee survey results consistently reflect that employees want more fairness in applying standards based on levels of performance and that the ratings criteria need to be clearer; so that managers are better able to distinguish between performance levels, and employees know what is expected to achieve specific rating levels.

Employees have clearly expressed the need for accountability for performance at all levels of the agency. Treasury’s Human Capital review and NTEU’s own analysis of the ratings results further confirm that the system needs to be revamped. NTEU supports a pay­for­performance approach, but the underlying ratings process must be fair.

In an effort to force quicker action on this front, NTEU proposed an across-­the-­board 4 percent increase until PM improvements are made. Other agencies with pay­for­performance systems, where the performance ratings system became an issue (including the FDIC, SEC and CFPB), have taken this same step. Because the OCC will not agree to this interim measure until the ratings system is fixed, NTEU has submitted the disputes over Merit Pay and Geo/locality pay to the Federal Service Impasses Panel (FSIP) for resolution. The FSIP is the federal agency responsible for resolving bargaining impasses. Recognizing that the dispute will not get resolved until early next year, NTEU will propose that increases be provided retroactively to pay period 1.

On Geo pay, NTEU’s objective is to ensure that your pay is comparable to that provided in the other federal financial regulatory agencies. The OCC’s Geo pay is based on a flawed system that only the OCC uses, with rates lagging far behind the locality pay rates provided by the other agencies. The net result is that OCC employees are paid at lower rates than employees performing similar work at the other financial agencies.

Thanks to NTEU’s efforts on your behalf, you can expect these benefits during the upcoming pay cycle:

  • 401: A continued OCC contribution of $1,000 to your 401k. You received this on Nov. 30, 2015.
  • Life Cycle: Increase to $1,250 from $1,000 (use for wellness programs, TSA pre­check)
  • Band Pay Cap: Increase of 2 percent in years 2016, 2017 and 2018. For example, in year 2016, the Band V, pay band minimum and maximum shifts to $71,103 ­ $132,379 from $67,002 ­ $124,744. There are charts to guide you. NTEU had to fight very hard to secure this change.
  • Compensation Cap: Increase of 2 percent for years 2016, 2017, and 2018.
  • Travel Stipend: Benefits will now begin on the 51st night of travel ­ you will receive $40 beginning on the 51st night out through the 70th night out and $50 for each night out beginning on the 71st night.
  • Early Check­in: Employees may claim reimbursement for fees charged by an airline to check in early for their flight. The right to claim reimbursement will continue to be included in the OCC FTRS.
  • Public Transit Subsidy: Examiners may now participate! The OCC shall provide a public transportation subsidy in accordance with PPM 3120­48 to all employees for the cost of using public transportation up to $250 per month, or up to the maximum IRS deductible limit, whichever is greater, during the period covered by this article. Any amount exceeding the IRS limit will be treated as taxable.
  • Pre­Tax Parking: The OCC shall provide a program to permit employees to pay for parking on a pre­tax basis, to the maximum extent permitted under IRS rules.
  • Annual Leave Buy­Back: You won’t receive this for 2015, but in years 2016, 2017, 2018 you will receive it up to 40 hours. NTEU fought hard to get this program reinstituted, as many employees still have too much work to do to be able to take all their leave.
  • Dental and Life Insurance: No change. NTEU will participate on the technical evaluation panel when dental is re­competed. When life insurance is re­competed, OCC will seek to obtain and maintain the maximum coverage for Option 1 at no less than $500,000.
  • Relocation Benefits: The CBS Staffing Incentives/Flexibilities Relocation Bonus (Revised) and Transitional Cost of Living Allowance (TCOLA) are no longer offered, although employees currently receiving these benefits will continue to do so. NTEU agreed to this change as part of a package in which pay ranges for each pay band will increase. NTEU will continue to oppose directed reassignments to force employees into positions, and we included language protecting NTEU’s right to bargain before any proposed involuntary relocations, including compensation associated with any such moves. In addition, bargaining would be required prior to any changes to pay protections associated with rotational and term assignments.

As you can see, NTEU is working hard on your behalf at the bargaining table.