NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Growing Power of Federal Employees' Unions

March 7, 1997

Public employee unions are starting to muscle-in to government policy decision-making, government officials say. And they are being aided in their efforts by President Clinton himself.

  • Soon after taking office, the Clinton administration moved to get union officials more involved in deciding issues traditionally reserved for agency management -- through an executive order that directed agencies to establish "labor-management partnerships."
  • Under the order, unions can demand to bargain over whether an agency will add staff positions and at what pay grade -- as well as over the use of technology and other aspects of how the agency works.
  • Critics say the new rules give unions an unwarranted policy role, and that now they can even try to shift the burden of downsizing to parts of an agency that are less unionized.
  • Knowledgeable observers say it's likely the administration will push proposals to let the unions bargain over layoffs, discipline and contracting out.

Moreover, before Clinton took office, union members could not use paid government time to lobby Congress -- but they can now, thanks to a Federal Labor Relations Authority ruling.

  • At the U. S. Customs Service, the federal government has paid for 800 to 840 hours of lobbying a year since 1994.
  • The General Accounting Office has found that official time used for lobbying at the Social Security Administration had risen to 413,000 hours in 1995 -- equal to 200 full-time positions.

Source: David A. Price, "Federal Unions' Growing Clout," Investor's Business Daily, March 7, 1997.


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