According to a report from Politico, CFPB employees voted last week to join the National Treasury Employees Union, a federal union that also represents employees at other financial regulators, including the FDIC, OCC and SEC. 

The report states that “according to several people familiar with the situation,” the move to unionize “was driven in large part by news that many employees in Washington would be forced to give up their private offices while the bureau renovates its headquarters.” It indicates that “sources” have described CFPB Washington staffers as angry about their current office space, which often involves groups of four or five people sharing single offices.  According to these sources, the CFPB’s plans to move employees from offices to open spaces when the CFPB temporarily relocates during the renovations sparked a backlash and raised concerns about keeping a similar layout in the permanent building once it is renovated.  The report quotes “one person familiar with the situation” as having said that CFPB “lawyers and economists and senior folks” who are “used to having their own offices” are concerned about the noise level in an open space layout. 

The union’s president is reported as having said that, in addition to workspace concerns, CFPB employees are concerned about travel policies and benefits, work schedules, reviews, promotions and alternative work schedules.  The report describes CFPB staffers as having “grown frustrated in recent months after putting in grueling hours as they raced to meet statutory deadlines” under Dodd-Frank. 

As the report notes, the CFPB’s leaders will now have to navigate union politics while trying to fill the vacancies that have resulted from a slew of recent departures.