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CFTC Employees Can Now Work From Home Twice a Week

  • Pay accord will allow employees to work from home twice a week
  • Agreement comes after tensions that led workers to join union

The main U.S. derivatives regulator has reached a new pay deal with its employees as it moves to boost relations with workers whose unhappiness with the cash-strapped agency led them to join a labor union three years ago.

Under the agreement with the National Treasury Employees Union, staff at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission will get 2 percent annual increases, plus merit raises, for the next three years, according to people familiar with the matter and an agency memo. As an added benefit, workers will be allowed to do their jobs remotely twice a week.

“This agreement will help to ensure the successful completion of the CFTC mission, provide you with important workplace flexibilities and recognize your dedication and hard work on behalf of the American public,” Chairman J. Christopher Giancarlo wrote in a note to staff members last week.

NTEU President Tony Reardon said in a statement that the union, which represents about 400 workers at the CFTC, was “pleased we were able to work with agency management to resolve these issues of critical importance to the front-line employees.”

CFTC Spokeswoman Erica Elliott Richardson declined to comment.

Giancarlo’s Review

The deal comes as Giancarlo, who was confirmed as chairman in August, presses ahead in a review of CFTC regulations. The former swaps industry executive has argued some may need to be eased, in line with President Donald Trump’s call to eliminate rules on businesses.

Some at the agency were amused that the workers’ long quest for a pay agreement came under a Republican appointee, especially because the last Democratic chairman, Timothy Massad, had worked at the AFL-CIO early in his career.

Giancarlo, however, has sought to soothe tensions at the agency that have grown in recent years as it faces a vastly expanded workload arising from the Dodd-Frank Act. Meanwhile, the CFTC’s budget has stayed mostly stagnant, leaving little room to hire additional people or give current employees raises. This year, Giancarlo bucked the Trump administration and argued, albeit unsuccessfully, for a 13 percent increase in the CFTC’s $250 million budget.

Perilous Condition

In a nod to the CFTC’s perilous financial condition, the new agreement notes that the annual across-the-board raises will be guaranteed as long as the CFTC’s budget isn’t cut. The same caveat applies to the merit increases, which generally amount to 3 percent for employees.

The deal, which still needs to be ratified by the workers, also gives staff members the option of working a four-day week of 10-hour days, a schedule that hasn’t been permitted.

Still, one main concern of workers at the CFTC has yet to be addressed. They are paid less and get fewer benefits than colleagues at other financial regulators. For example, though the new agreement effectively doubles the number of days CFTC employees are allowed to telecommute, some at the Securities and Exchange Commission can work remotely up to five days a week. SEC staff also get additional retirement benefits.

— With assistance by Jesse Hamilton

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