These Highly Paid Federal Employees Reportedly Unhappy and Seeking Union Representation

Average salary at the CFTC is $145,610, but employees are reportedly unhappy in the belief that their salaries have been lagging behind other agencies.

Futures contracts for agricultural commodities have been traded in the United States for more than 150 years and have been under some form of federal regulation since the 1920s. These markets have since expanded beyond agricultural commodities. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) was created in 1974.

The CFTC is a federal agency but with a unique structure that is more common among financial regulatory agencies than older federal agencies. In at least some of these agencies, unions negotiate wages for employees they represent. The National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) represents employees at similar agencies including the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

NTEU has filed a petition to represent more than half the staff at the CFTC. The petition is a preliminary step to a vote by agency employees on whether to select a union to serve as their representative. NTEU says that its petition covers about 370 employees working in the CFTC’s Washington headquarters as well as offices in Chicago and Kansas City, Missouri. The Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) has oversight responsibility for union elections in the federal government and that agency will determine the details for the election, including the date that it will be held.

The average salary at CFTC for FY 2013 was $145,610.66 for 683 employees in the agency at the time the data on federal employee salaries in was compiled. Federal employees at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), have an average salary of $156,883. The average federal employee salary in 2013 was $79,374 according to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).

2013 Salary Data: Federal Salaries Increase Despite Pay Freeze – See more at:
2013 Salary Data: Federal Salaries Increase Despite Pay Freeze – See more at:

Have salaries at the CFTC failed to keep pace with the employees at other financial regulatory agencies—specifically with employees at the SEC and the FDIC?

Here is a breakdown of average salaries at these agencies over the past three years. The average salary at CFTC is less than at the SEC, and has grown at a slower pace than at the SEC.  CFTC salaries are higher than those at the FDIC although the average at the FDIC has grown faster in the past several years. Most federal employees would obviously love to have the higher average salaries (and higher retirement income) from any of these three agencies.

Salary Bonus Salary Bonus Salary Bonus
2013 $145,610.66 for 683 employees $1,200.67 $156,883.08 for 4,135 employees $2,040.40 $123,550.28 for 7,480 employees $1105.28
2012 $143,198.98 for 704 employees $2,093.51 $154,028.53 for 3,907 employees $2,182.11 $118,347.03 for 7,922 employees $1,017.50
2011 $144,711.07 for 577 employees $1,836.68 $150,654.26 for 3,801 employees $1,438.48 $113,720.56 for 8,242 employees $1,053.05

While arguing for higher salaries is probably a good campaign tactic as most people want to make more money, federal employee unions win the vast majority of elections. Turn-out may be low and there is generally no counter-point to the union’s publicity during the campaign (there may be competing unions as well as the “no union” option on the ballot). The winner of the election is determined by a majority of the votes cast rather than requiring a majority of all bargaining unit members.

You can search federal and postal employee salaries at

About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47