Union Time on the Taxpayer’s Dime

Union Release time in Connecticut

Originally published at the Yankee Institute

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As of early 2016, Connecticut was in collective bargaining negotiations with a majority of its state employee unions over pay and work rules.

While these negotiations were ongoing, news broke that the state’s projected budget deficit was still increasing despite efforts to fix it prior to the start of the legislative session. Declining revenue shortfalls are expected to continue in the future. 

To address these budget challenges, Governor Dannel Malloy, in his State of the State address, said the state workforce may be trimmed by 1,000 employees – or more if you ask his budget director.

Fixing such a large budget deficit will take sacrifices from many areas of government. That means Connecticut’s legislature should start with the low-hanging fruit. Any tax dollars that are not exclusively reserved for purely public purposes should be on the chopping block. Such an approach could save jobs and make sure the public receives necessary services.

One example — which appears in all state employee collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) – is union business leave, also known as union release time. Under this policy, state employees are given leave to conduct union business – including political work – that is completely unrelated to their job responsibilities, during working hours and without loss of pay.

Before trimming the state workforce or imposing other onerous cuts, Connecticut lawmakers should remove from state collective bargaining contracts the provisions that allow for union business leave – which subsidizes government unions’ political activities at the expense of the taxpayer.