Federal employees were paid more than $155 million of taxpayer dollars in 2011 for spending more than 3.4 million hours of “official time” on labor union activities that fell outside their assigned government duties, according to a survey by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).
“Voluntary membership in Federal sector unions results in considerable reliance by unions on the volunteer work of bargaining unit employees, rather than paid union business agents, to represent the union in representational matters such as collective bargaining and grievances,” the OPM stated.
But these “volunteers” were doing their union work on government time.
The Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Veterans Affairs “have hundreds of employees on their payroll that do nothing but full-time union work paid for by taxpayer dollars,” declared Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) after introducing The Federal Employee Accountability Act (S.1312) earlier this month to repeal most “official time off,” which Coburn called “a grievous violation of the public’s trust.”
Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) has introduced a companion bill in the House (H.R. 107) that would repeal “official time” provisions except in cases where an agreement is reached for “necessary activities.”
This was “an increase of 9.66 percent compared to FY 2010,” OPM found. Furthermore, “the cost of ‘official time’ hours increased by 11.86 percent” from 2010 to 2011.
Official time is defined as “paid time off from assigned Government duties to represent a union or its bargaining unit employees,” according to the OPM report. Title 5, Section 1731 of the U.S. Code states that “any employee representing an exclusive representative in the negotiation of a collective bargaining agreement under this chapter shall be authorized official time for such purposes.”
According to the OPM survey, top “official time” spenders included Veterans Affairs ($42,565,000.79), Treasury ($27,314,928.23), Transportation ($17,712,397.98), and Defense ($13,996,108.85).But other federal agencies exhibited the highest percentage increase in official time hours used between 2010 and 2011, including the Federal Election Commission (441 percent), the Consumer Product Safety Commission (371 percent) , the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (291 percent), and the National Credit Union Administration (234 percent). Keep reading