Landmark Bill Would End Taxpayer Handout to Gov’t Unions
WASHINGTON, D.C., February 14, 2013 - Government labor unions have long been able to conduct union business while on the job and on the taxpayer dime, under a little-known policy called “official time.” Legislation introduced by Rep. Phil Gingrey could end this tax give-away to unions, and a new coalition of government watchdog groups called on Congress today to support that plan.
"No one disputes the right for workers to form a union," said Matt Patterson, a CEI Senior Fellow. "But when unions use the government to secure for themselves privileged status and perks, when they use the levers of power to funnel public money into their private coffers, they break a sacred covenant of free government, which works only when and if the law is applied equally and to all."
"Every federal government employee swears an oath to defend the Constitution and to perform their civic duty is the best way possible," said Trey Kovacs, a CEI Labor Policy Analyst. "When a federal employee is conducting union business while on government duty that vow is broken. Unfortunately this happens everyday due to the costly and wasteful subsidy to federal union employees known as official time."
An estimated $155 million in taxpayer money was wasted on “official time” activities in 2011 alone, as the coalition letter explains. A U.S. Office of Personnel Management official, Angela Bailey, has stated publically that federal workers spent nearly 3.4 million hours conducting union business in 2011. The Federal Employee Accountability Actwould end that practice and save the taxpayers an estimated $1.3 billion over 10 years.
“At a time when the federal government lurches from one fiscal crisis to another, this is money we can no longer afford to squander on political favors to private special interests,” the letter states.
The coalition letter includes as signatories: CEI, Americans for Tax Reform, Americans for Prosperity, the National Center for Public Policy Research, Heritage Action and the Alliance for Worker Freedom.