$160 Million Paid to Federal Workers for Doing Union Work

How would you like to receive a full salary from the federal government for not working for the government?  Witold Skwierczynski has been employed by the Social Security Administration for over 30 years as a claims representative, but he hasn’t done any work for SSA during that most of his career.

In 1978, the Democratically controlled Congress passed the Civil Service Reform Act and Democratic President Jimmy Carter readily signed it into law.  Contained in the act was a provision known as ‘official time’ that allows a federal employee to draw their full pay and benefits to work exclusively as a union representative.  In other words, you and I are paying them to work for the various federal employee unions instead of doing the jobs they were hired to do.

Additionally, federal workers on ‘official time’ are even allowed to lobby Congress on behalf of the unions.  Every time Congress considers taking any action to limit or remove ‘official time’, these federally paid union representatives lobby against such actions.  So far they have successfully defeated every measure proposed against it.

According to the Office of Personnel Management, only about 15% of ‘official time’ is spent resolving disputes and 76% used for ‘general labor-management relations’ which is an ambiguous catchall category that means little.

In 2011, ‘official time’ accounted for 3.4 million hours at a cost of $155.6 million.  That’s the equivalent of 1,700 full time positions doing union work on our dimes.

In every other union, worker dues are used to pay union representatives, but with ‘official time’ federal employee unions are free to use all of those dues for other politically motivated activities.

James Sherk, Senior Policy Analyst in Labor Economics for the Heritage Foundation commented about ‘official time,’ saying:

“Effectively, it has the same effect of giving the public employee unions $155 million a year when you are subsidizing staff time like that.”

“The core function of the union is supposed to be representation of workers and workplace grievances and negotiating contracts.  What the federal government does is essentially have the taxpayers pick up the tabs for all those functions.”

“That’s what their dues are supposed to go for, but because the taxpayers are picking up the cost of these basic union responsibilities, the unions have far more money freed up to spend however else they want.”

Federal employee unions have grown politically powerful and it’s largely due to taxpayers paying nearly $160 million a year so federal employees can work for the unions instead of the jobs they were hired to do.  As soon as Republicans win the Senate this year and control both houses of Congress, we need to insist that our Senators and Representatives take action to eliminate ‘official time.’  Since taxpayers are footing the bill, we demand that these federal employees need to do the jobs they were hired to do or quit and have the unions pay them for doing union work.