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...