In the month of April, three bills have been introduced in the 113th Congress that are now included in Workplacechoice.org Pro-Worker Legislation, which we then will score on our Congressional Scorecard (coming soon).
First, on April 18 Representative Devin Nunes (CA-R) introduced the Public Employee Pension Transparency Act H.R. 1628. The bill would strip states and cities of their federal tax-exempt bonding authority unless the public pension fund discloses the liabilities of its plan. A uniform and transparent system of disclosure would also be created using generally accepted accounting principles. More importantly, the legislation expressly states the federal government will not bailout state and local pension funds that go bankrupt.
The need for pension reform is painfully obvious. According to Thomas Healy and Carl Hess’ study entitled, Underfunded Public Pensions in the United States: The Size of the Problem, the Obstacles to Reform and the Path Forward, “Over the past several years, estimates of the total size of the public pension problem in the U.S. have ranged from $730 billion in unfunded liabilities to $4.4 trillion.”
That kind of uncertainty in estimating state and local pension liabilities is why PEPTA is a good first step, even though it does not correct the investment practices, accounting standards or retirement payouts of state and local pension plans. But like G.I. Joe said “Now you know, and knowing is half the battle.”
Second, Senator Rand Paul (KY-R) became the first to introduce the Federal Employee Accountability Act of 2013 S. 785 in the Senate. The long awaited piece of legislation eliminates union official time, or the practice of on-duty federal employees taking time of from their regularly assigned duties to conduct private union business.
Activities performed by federal employees on union official time range from collective bargaining, filing grievances, lobbying and other activities that promote the interests of union members over the public. In 2011, the last year for which figures are available, federal employees spent government 3.4 million hours on official time costing taxpayers $155 million.
Sen. Paul’s bill simply amends section 7131 of Title 5, U.S.C. to eliminate the provisions allowing the blatant subsidy to labor unions.
In the bill’s legislative findings it describes “salting” as “The tactic of using professional union organizers and agents to infiltrate a targeted employer’s workplace, a practice commonly referred to as ‘salting’ has evolved into an aggressive form of harassment not contemplated when the National Labor Relations Act was enacted and threatens the balance of rights which is fundamental to our system of collective bargaining.”
With union membership in a steady decline (11.3% in 2012 lowest in 76 years) it is no surprise unions are engaging in such deplorable acts. The Truth in Employment Act would protect employers from this union tactic, allowing business owners to refuse employing an individual that wishes to damage their company.