Washington, D.C., May 31, 2011—Tomorrow, June 1, CEI Labor Policy Counsel Vincent Vernuccio will testify at a House Oversight Committee hearing on official time in the federal workforce. Currently, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) defines official time as “paid time off from assigned Government duties to represent a union or its bargaining unit employees.” In his Wednesday testimony, Vernuccio will argue that Congress should repeal the section of the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 that authorizes official time for federal employees.
According to Vernuccio, official time forces taxpayers to subsidize union activities that are not necessarily in the public interest. Public funds which could be spent on government administration are instead spent on shoring up the influence of government employee unions. In 2009 alone, federal employees spent 2,911,378 paid hours on union work—hours that cost American taxpayers $129,100,798.
“Official time amounts to a significant and inappropriate government subsidy for union activity, paid for by taxpayers,” says Vernuccio. “Our country is experiencing massive budget deficits. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the federal government incurred a deficit of $871 billion for the first seven months of FY 2011. That is $70 billion more than at the same time last year. The debt now looms at over $14 trillion, or over $46,000 for every United States citizen.
“Public employee unions have the money to pay for the representation of their members. It is unfair to force taxpayers to foot the bill.”
The hearing will take place at 1:30pm in Room 2154, Rayburn House Office Building. Vernuccio will be joined by Rep. Phil Gingrey (GA-11), OPM Deputy Associate Director Timothy Curry, Heritage Foundation Senior Policy Analyst James Sherk, and President of the American Federal of Government Employees John Gage.