OCC Bargaining Update - September 15, 2015

NTEU Provides Updates on Pay, Office Space Negotiations

In earlier messages, NTEU informed you that the union recently exercised its right under the current collective bargaining agreement to reopen negotiations on Article 39 covering Compensation and Benefits. Negotiations are scheduled to begin on Sept. 22.

We reopened negotiations primarily to address concerns raised by employees regarding Merit Pay and Geo Pay.

Merit Pay

On Merit Pay, NTEU’s initial proposal calls for eliminating the different levels of pay increases based on performance ratings, at least until OCC completes an overhaul of the performance management system. OCC has recognized the need for changes to this system for several years, and the current contract established a joint labor-management working group to recommend changes, including establishing clearer connections between performance objectives and skills, and validating, eliminating and/or weighting job skill elements. But virtually no progress has been made to make any improvements, and OCC only recently hired staff to run this huge project.

In the meantime, employees have continued under the current system with many complaints and some troubling data indicating that ratings have not been distributed fairly throughout the agency. It is clear to NTEU that the current merit pay system cannot continue until the problems with performance management are fixed. This is the same course of action taken several years ago at FDIC, and that is currently underway at SEC and CFPB.

Geo Pay

With regard to Geo Pay, NTEU has also proposed some significant changes. The current Geo rates are based on a flawed methodology that does not accurately represent the cost of labor differences between cities and relies on “black box” (non-transparent) data from a private sector contractor.

This system is unique in the federal government. All other federal agencies, including the other financial regulatory agencies where NTEU bargains compensation, use the data collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to measure pay differentials within locality pay areas that have been established based on Census data. In part because of the methodological flaws, OCC’s Geo rates have lagged behind those paid by the other agencies. NTEU's proposal would shift OCC over to a locality pay system using the BLS data and provide increases in locality pay to all employees in each of the next two years.

Office Space Negotiations

The other issue that NTEU is negotiating over is office space. OCC management reopened negotiations on Article 15 of the agreement seeking reductions in office space in Field, Satellite and District offices (OCC has since dropped its proposed changes to space in District Offices).

Although NTEU is generally amenable to reducing space when it is not being efficiently utilized, the union wants to make sure all employees—including examiners assigned to work in Large and Midsize banks—have adequate space to work and be productive when they are in the office. NTEU also believes that where office space is being reduced, employees should be approved to telework on a recurring (not just occasional) basis. Some progress was made in the initial meetings on these issues last month, but NTEU and OCC do not yet have a resolution. Negotiations on Office Space are scheduled to resume on Thursday.

Your Support Matters

Once again, NTEU asks for your support as we represent your interests in securing fair and reasonable agreements on compensation and office space. If you have any questions or would like to provide feedback on these matters, please contact your NTEU Chapter President.

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