Each working day, government employees report for work but do not perform governmental duties. Instead, they work for a private enterprise void of any public purpose--their union. Taxpayers pay for these employees' wages, pensions, and healthcare benefits. Taxpayers pay for office space, supplies, and travel, too.
It's all part of an expensive government subsidy to labor organizations known at the federal level as union "official time," and on the state and local level as union "release time." Government employees receive paid time off to perform union activities unrelated to their government responsibilities. Thanks to haphazard record keeping and lack of transparency, it is impossible to know the true cost of union official time, but the available records since 1998 indicate that, at the federal level alone, it has cost taxpayers more than $1 billion.
When state and local official time is added to federal time, the total cost may be as high as $1 billion a year for the employees' man-hours alone--not including the value of office space, computer, telephones, automobiles, etc.
At the federal level alone, official time has increased from 2.9 million hours in 2008 to 3.4 million hours in 2011, the last year for which figures are available. The cost to taxpayers has risen from $121 million in 2008 to $155 million in 2011, up 28 percent in just three years!
The federal government is supposed to release a report each year around March documenting official time, but the Obama administration has dragged its heels, releasing reports eight months, even a year late. (That means that the report that includes the month before the 2012 election--when unions fueled the President's get-out-the-vote effort--might not be released until 2014.)
Mallory Factor, co-author of Shadowbosses and of the lead report in the November 2012 Labor Watch, wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed:
"Official time is a ruse for getting taxpayers to support union activities in the government workplace, including the lobbying of legislators for ever-more benefits. This effectively subsidizes unions so they can spend more dues income on political organizing. And it's all done without taxpayers' knowledge. It's a shadowy practice that must be stopped."
More than 80 unions represent federal employees, including the American Federation of Government Employees, the National Treasury Employees Union, and the National Federation of Federal Employees.
Origin of Federal Official Time
The federal government first gave the privilege of collective bargaining to federal employee unions on January 17, 1962, when President John F. Kennedy signed Executive Order 10988. But it took until 1976 for the Civil Service Commission (predecessor to the present Office of Personnel Management) to direct government agencies to authorize official time. In 1978, the Civil Service Reform Act (CSRA) was enacted, formalizing the authority for collective bargaining and official time in the federal government. Jimmy Carter was President, and Congress at the time was dominated by pro-union Democrats. (Democrats had controlled both the Senate and the House of Representatives since the 1954 election.)
In the CSRA's "findings and purpose"--the explanation of the rationale for the legislation--Congress found that "experience in both private and public employment indicates that the statutory protection of the right of employees to organize, bargain collectively, and participate through labor organizations of their own choosing in decisions which affect them" is a good thing because it "safeguards the public interest,...contributes to the effective conduct of public business...and facilitates and encourages the amicable settlements of disputes between employees and their employers involving conditions of employment."
Under CSRA, federal employers must allow employees to use official time for representational activities, including processing grievances and collective bargaining negotiations. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is charged with collecting official time data in an annual report, "Official Time Usage in the Federal Government," which has agencies report in four broad categories:
1. General Labor Management: Time used for meetings between labor and management officials to discuss general conditions of employment; labor-management committee meetings; labor relations training for union representatives; and union participation in formal meetings and investigative interviews.
2. Dispute Resolution: Time used to process grievances and to process appeals of bargaining unit employees to various administrative agencies and the courts.
3. Term Bargaining: Time used by union representatives to prepare for and negotiate a basic collective bargaining agreement or a successor agreement.
4. Mid-term Bargaining: Time used to bargain over issues raised during the life of a term agreement.
According to the OPM report, the cost to taxpayers of salaries and benefits paid for official time was $129 million in 2009 and $137 million in 2010. The majority of 2010 official time hours--2.4 million hours representing 77 percent of the total--was spent on "General Labor Management"; in other words, taxpayers are paying the cost of activities that are specific to the union's concerns and provide no direct public benefit.
READ FULL SOURCE ARTICLE: 02/19/2013
Editor's Note: We don't know about you, but we are pretty finished with Labor Unions receiving perks off of the taxpayers' backs...
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