WASHINGTON-Comptroller of the Currency John Hawke wrote a letter last month following the vote of employees in favor of unionizing, assuring the national banks that their fees would not increase as a result of the organizing. After the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) employees unionized, the National Treasury Employee’s Union (NTEU) demanded significant pay increases and better benefits, which he said had spurred speculation. “It is, of course, the right of eligible OCC [Office of the Comptroller of the Currency] employees to choose to be represented by a labor union in dealing with management on issues that are negotiable,” Hawke wrote. “I want to give you my strong personal assurance, however, that any agreement we may reach with NTEU will be consistent with our objective of containing costs and maintaining a balanced budget without a new increase in assessments.” He assured his constituents that the OCC is financially sound and that, unlike FDIC, OCC is not required to negotiate compensation and benefits with the union, based on a U.S. Court of Appeals decision regarding the Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS), which OCC asserts also would cover the agency. “The statutory language under which OTS operates in this regard is identical to that under which OCC operates, and our view is that the court decision relating to OTS is a precedent that would govern in our case in the event that the union were to seek to negotiate compensation and benefits. We believe that OCC’s merit-based compensation system is fair and reasonable, and our conviction in this regard is supported by the fact that OCC has been able to recruit and retain employees of unsurpassed quality,” the letter read. NCUA employees are currently working with NTEU to determine if there is enough support for a vote to unionize. NCUA staff was unavailable at deadline for comment as to whether pay and benefits would be negotiable if its employees organize and whether that would affect fees to credit unions.

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