The SEC's Latest Scandal: Demands For Longer Lunch Breaks

Tyler Durden's picture

There was a time when the only complaint the SEC's 4000 employees had was that some porn sites charge just too much - after all, the SEC's "enforcement" budget is limited, while the worldwide supply of pornography is virtually endless. It's time to add one more grievance to the list of all those overworked regulators who have yet to put someone, anyone, from the big banks in jail as a consequence for nearly destroying the western way of life, or do more than merely wrist slap Steve Cohen with a penalty that costs more than three or four Picasso paintings: lunch breaks.

As Bloomberg reports, the latest scandal at the SEC has nothing to do with the agency's terminal and embarrassing inefficiencies, and everything to do with how much time the SEC's unionized workers are allotted to eat lunch.

In a dispute that has sent pangs of resentment -- and perhaps hunger -- across the agency, the SEC’s union chief has warned workers to keep lunch breaks to a half hour or risk being disciplined as “absent without leave.”


“Despite the fact that most SEC employees are often told that they may take an hour for lunch, technically, we are only entitled to thirty minutes,” wrote Greg Gilman, president of the union, in an e-mail sent to SEC workers last week. “Do not fall into the trap of believing that because you are a ‘professional’ the rules do not apply to you.”


Fueling the union’s angst is a new SEC plan to require the use of security cards that record the times people enter and exit the building in its offices across the country, a move Gilman wrote would “substantially increase surveillance.” He said that data from the system in place at the Washington headquarters is increasingly used in cases against employees accused of skipping out of work.

Wait, the SEC has... a labor union? Why yes.

Relations have been tense between the SEC’s management and its union, which represents some 3,000 of the agency’s 4,000 employees. Gilman has also criticized a recent decision by Chairman Mary Jo White to give added retirement and vacation benefits only to managers and has accused the commission of reneging on part of a student-loan repayment program.

Well, that pretty much answers all lingering questions about why the SEC is arguably the government's most worthless organization.

But back to much more pressing things - like why said union can not spend an extended lunch siesta time doing more of what it does so well: nothing.

Gilman’s Oct. 24 note said the group, part of the National Treasury Employees Union, is seeking the services of a federal mediator to help resolve the matter.


“The ‘time-clock’ issue at headquarters has grown into a festering problem,” he wrote, adding that it has “resulted in a larger volume of high stakes discipline cases” against attorneys, accountants and examiners. The practice also goes against a deal the union negotiated with the SEC a decade ago that Washington office security turnstiles wouldn’t be used for “monitoring time and attendance,” Gilman wrote.


Now, to be on the safe side, he urged employees to take precautions.




As for lunches, Nester said it is true that the current union bargaining contract calls for only a 30-minute daily break. Even though it is not in the agreement, all workers are permitted two 15-minute breaks as well, he said.

And all so very much deserved...

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Gene Parmesan's picture

Unionized government workers - "what could go wrong?" they said.

Ignatius's picture

The SEC has been out to lunch since I started following the metals markets.

What's their complaint again?

Stuck on Zero's picture

The real complaint is what they are serving in the cafeteria:

Monday:  Filet of taxpayer

Tuesday:  Fricasee of saver

Wednesday:  Stir-fried investor

Thursday: Slow-boiled municipalities

Friday:  Char-grilled Constitution



Cacete de Ouro's picture

"We are only entitled to thirty minutes,” wrote Greg Gilman, president of the union

Surely that's a 'midget' lunch break ?

insanelysane's picture

What the story is ignoring is that the "workers" work an 8 hour day.  They want the 8 work hours to include an extra 30 minutes for lunch.  The 2 breaks that aren't in the contract also mean that they will be required to "work" for 7 hours max per day.

USS Bernanke's picture

I too enjoy/demand longer lunch breaks after long days of looking at pornographic material.

Big Brother's picture

Gotta replenish the electrolytes (wink wink)

Confused's picture

Correct me if I'm wrong, normally management (however you define this) is exempt from being in a Union. So...of the 4,000 employees, 3K are in the "union."

Which means, 1,000 people in positions of management? 1 manager for every 3 employees that are not "management?" 


Forget that the SEC is useless. The fact that they have a union........hahahahahahahahahahahaha

29.5 hours's picture



*1 manager for every 3 employees that are not "management?" *

That is the trend in the private sector too. If you can foist certain (minor) management functions on peons, then these deluded fools think they have skin in the game. It is amazin what some people without a moral anchor will do to have a nice-sounding job title that gives their life a distinguishing mark. At one point, one of four people at Adobe had a VP title. Not sure is still true...

It is one way the real management keeps in control.



Bobbyrib's picture

Waste in the private sector is the problem of shareholders/owners, not mine (unless I work there).

DOT's picture

Your point being people are stupid (deluded fools) and therefor must be controlled. Who has the authority to tell others what they should want? I, personally, loved the parking space with the sign.'Real management ' is controlling your own choices to optimize your desired return. The Union will not help you and the organization that pays you has a responsibility to maximize your return, as a resource, to the organization.

Bobbyrib's picture

"The Union will not help you and the organization that pays you has a responsibility to maximize your return, as a resource, to the organization."

Study economics please. According to economic theory,  the organization you work for should be conflicted when it comes to employee pay. They are trying to maximize their own returns, not yours. You are your only proponent for better pay. Basically they are trying to pay you as little as possible so you don't leave to find another job (if you are valuable to them).

shovelhead's picture

Study economics? Ha.

Basic common sense should suffice. You can't whine if you ain't willing to walk.

Well, you can, but that just makes you a whiner.


q99x2's picture

How long do things run on FRAUD. I remember when my gar runs out of gas I can maybe get a mile or two before it stops turning over. Doesn't something like have to happen or do you think Greece is going to default. This week I'm carrying my lunch.

Bobbyrib's picture

The government is abusing the average citizen so badly, I hope something breaks soon.

tarsubil's picture

It is very hard to fire Federal FTEs. The one thing you can fire people over is the timesheet. I'm sure fear of getting fired over a timesheet is enough to keep all of the SEC employees in line.

Bobbyrib's picture

Sarcasm? They are paid to look the other way, the same way the (In)Justice department is with Holder in charge (unless you are an enemy of our Supreme Leader).

Dr. Engali's picture

I'm not a big supporter of unions, however I do have to say that 1/2 hour lunches is a little fucked up. That's barely enough time to jerk off to porn and finish eating. How in the hell are they supposed to grab a smoke?

Bobbyrib's picture

It's pretty funny that if you are a normal white guy, that you are at a severe disadvantage to everyone else. If you smoke, you get more breaks than everyone else (pretty much everywhere I have worked), in certain companies/areas you can not get a promotion unless you are a minority. Being born to a Catholic background in this country is a curse, you get fucked every which way (old money rejects you and you are not a minority). 

shovelhead's picture

Obviously you have never been to New England.

Try getting a public sector job if your NOT Catholic. The dagos and the micks got it sewn up tight.

Bobbyrib's picture

I don't get along with Red Sox fans.

CuriousPasserby's picture

Fire them all. Hire non-union. F*ck unions.

Bobbyrib's picture

I would say fuck modern day unions. It makes members lazy, entitlement minded fucks.

island's picture

There is a big difference between PUBLIC worker unions and PRIVATE sector unions.

Private sector unions, just like management, have to consider the bottom line or risk losing everything.  Solvency is king and when the company does better so should everyone involved.

Public sector unions are another story.  The citizens who pay the bills are not at the bargaining table.  There is effectively nothing to hold unions, management, or politicians in line.  It is all about vote getting and voting blocks.


Yea - for Private Sector Unions

Nay - for Public Sector Unions

Widowmaker's picture

Because the public never has to cover the corrupt asses in the private sector unions either.  The auto-complex will send you holiday card this year.

29.5 hours's picture



From my experience, it appears that "punch clock" rules at the SEC are way behind times for white-collar work places.

I have no sympathy for the tax-wasting non-activity of the SEC but, knowing the environment, the blame lies with the political bosses of the SEC, not the workers.

If the workers push back on these intrusive rules regarding lunch and punchout time, then good. We all should try to push back--even if we work for government scum agencies.



Bobbyrib's picture

Uh no. The SEC porn watchers could get a job in the private sector and then they won't be paid to sit around and do nothing (except maybe fine a TBTF [which equates a slap on the wrist] when they go out of their way to fuck the average citizen over). 

22winmag's picture

A union for 3000 pencil-pushing, porn-watching, layabouts at the SEC?


I can understand unions for coal miners and such, but this is ridiculous. All public sector and white collar unions should be outlawed!

29.5 hours's picture


"All public sector and white collar unions should be outlawed"

Yeah, we can make another law and create a new government agency to enforce it...



Bobbyrib's picture

lol. It's funny to watch some people try to choose their government enforcements like it is a buffet.

Less government now damnit!

29.5 hours's picture



Less government is the right direction of our political compass. Even if we cannot agree on what type of government, reasonable people should at least agree on having less--if only in self defense...





DOT's picture

It already exists and is called "Civil Service". A shit ton of rules that are put aside so the Union can bargain to put in place its shit ton of rules.

Bobbyrib's picture

I was with you until you said outlaw white collar unions. From the stories I have heard software developers and engineers need a union. It can't be fun to program for 16 hours a day drinking shitty energy drinks to keep pace with whatever is going on. With downward pressure on wages from outsourcing and our visa programs (evidentally you can cheat our Visa program for YEARS and get off only paying a fine of a few tens of millions), I think they should be allowed unions. Also the general idea of outlawing something in the private sector should be frowned upon. In case you haven't noticed, it is a slippery slope.

DOT's picture

Entry level at Amazon(real case) $123.3K, including the $10K sign on of course.

Don't like it?


Bobbyrib's picture

Divide hours worked by your pay.

I don't work either of those jobs. My personality finds tedious things annoying unfortunately.

Blano's picture

"a move Gilman wrote would “substantially increase surveillance.”"

Welcome to our world, mofo.

orangegeek's picture

unionized worker = oxymoron

Straw Dog's picture

Here's a qoute from James Grant of Grant's Interest Rate Observer from a while back, I paraphrase:

Having the SEC is worse than havng no regulatory authority whatsover, as having the SEC leads the investing public to believe that the securities industry is indeed regulated, when in fact it is not.

Stuck on Zero's picture

I encourage everyone at the SEC to take 8 hour lunch breaks.  They'd be more productive.


Bobbyrib's picture

Yeah, but then the cleaning crews would suffer (less stain removals from the carpet, less need for as many cleaners). /sarcasm.

Son of Loki's picture

Moar Free Time!

All that porn tires them out.

Let The Wurlitzer Play's picture

Since porn at work is now frowned upon the SEC employ need more time to get to and from the strip clubs.


Son of Captain Nemo's picture

As the incapacitated and neutered "Republic" that pays for it looks on with not a care in the World.

Budd aka Sidewinder's picture

Mark Cuban is a billionaire that took the SEC to the mat and won over some bullshit insider trading charges.  He could have just settled and have been done with it but he didn't.  He knew the charges were bullshit and wanted to show the public they were bullshit and he has the money and balls to take on the SEC.

What does that say for Stevie Cohen and the gang at JP morgan????  They have a helluva lot more money than Cuban.  The SEC can be easily beaten in court.  Why don't they fight THEIR charges in court????  Why are they paying BILLIONS in fines????

Could it maybe be because the charges against them are true and they are admitting their guilt then wiping their ass with the peons faces????

DOT's picture

So how does a sovereign state set aside its obligation and subrogate itself, and the People, to an unelected and unknown mediator that has the de facto power to rule the sovereign and the People?

Does the Constitution carve out an exemption?  Nope.

Do any of the State's Constitutions allow a mediator to make law?  No.

Will the dotGov explain ?  Never.

Bobbyrib's picture

It's called a republic ("representative government").

DOT's picture

That would properly be, Constitutional Republic.

There is a difference.

Bobbyrib's picture

True, but not when your government doesn't follow its own constiution.

DOT's picture

Then it becomes anarchy and the "governors" are posseurs and criminals.

Bobbyrib's picture

I would say the US is closer to totalitariansim than anarchy.