Over the weekend, the House unanimously passed the Federal Employee Retroactive Pay Fairness Act. If passed by the Senate, all furloughed federal employees will receive back-pay for the duration of the government shutdown.
All this amounts to is a paid vacation for the nearly 800,000 furloughed federal employees, which have been deemed non-essential.
While paying public employees to not work is absurd, the federal government already does this. In what is known as union official time, the practice that allows unionized federal government workers to perform union duties unrelated to their jobs while still being paid their government salary.
Worse, the Office of Personnel Management, the federal agency in charge of managing federal employees, changed its government shutdown guidance to allow union representatives to work on paid official time. The Washington Examiner reports:
“The new guidance says furloughed government workers can perform union work on official time if federal law allows it. For instance, the document says, if an “agency has determined that a management action taken during a shutdown is permissible because it is an excepted activity, and such action triggers union representational rights under the collective bargaining agreement.”
The guidance instructs workers to consult with the general counsel at their individual government department or agency to determine if union activity is allowed under federal law.”
Although spending public funds for the exclusive benefit of government unions should be illegal, continuing to pay union bosses to not perform government work during the partial government shutdown is beyond the pale.