In July, SEC employees voted 968 to 373 to join the National Treasury Employees Union. Union organizer Michael Clampitt, a lawyer in the SEC Division of Corporate Finance, spoke with Registered Representative.
RR: With more protection because of a union, are employees freer to talk about various issues?
Clampitt: Absolutely. During meetings [prior to unionization], people would normally sit on their hands because they were afraid of retaliation. But now people have a voice. They are not reluctant to challenge what they believe to be improper.
RR: How is life changing at the SEC in light of unionization?
Clampitt: Here's an example. The day after we got certified, the Boston Regional District office issued a form to all clerical and secretarial people, telling them they had to write down what they did every hour of the day. The union viewed this as a change in work conditions and something management had to negotiate. The union contacted management [and] they immediately pulled the form. That's the main purpose [of the union]--not imposing changes when the staff never had a voice.
There's been a change in the management style now. They're moving away from a heavy-handed approach. Ultimately, it will benefit the agency because that style was driving people away. Over the next year or two, I'm sure you'll see the turnover rate drop dramatically.
RR: Will a union make the agency more responsive in, say, responding to investors who complain?
Clampitt: The only thing that will change is the working conditions. [Management] controls staffing. We won't have any impact on the number of staff assigned to a particular office.