SEC, union workers agree on contract

July 23, 2002|By BLOOMBERG NEWS

WASHINGTON - After 532 days of negotiations, the Securities and Exchange Commission and its union employees agreed yesterday to a contract that would allow workers to telecommute two days a week, among other provisions.

The agreement, which still needs approval by the union members and SEC Chairman Harvey Pitt before it can go into effect, addresses basic working conditions such as dress codes and compensatory time off. It doesn't cover pay, a sore point for many SEC professionals, who are paid less than their counterparts at federal banking agencies.

"This will definitely improve morale, because it will improve working conditions," said union President Mike Clampitt. He said the union is more concerned with how raises are distributed, the focus of separate negotiations.

The 532 days of bargaining hurt morale, union workers said, while the SEC's workload rose because of accounting irregularities at Enron Corp., WorldCom Inc. and other companies.

SEC spokesman John Heine declined to comment except to say the "tentative agreement on the work rules contract" is subject to more review.

Along with allowing workers to telecommute two days a week, the agreement would let employees keep up to 24 hours of compensatory time indefinitely. Employees also would get the right to be considered first for any job opening covered by the union.

Workers making less than $50,000 a year would be eligible for child-care subsidies. The agreement also says workers do not have to follow a dress code.

The union is scheduled to vote on the contract Monday. The SEC will then have 30 days to review the agreement.

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