NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Government Workers Perform Union Duties on the Taxpayers' Dime

December 27, 2011

Title V of the U.S. Code allows federal government employees to do union work while on the job.  Known as "official time," this allows unionized government workers to perform union duties unrelated to their jobs while still being paid their government salary, says Vincent Vernuccio, labor policy counsel at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

There is no law or regulation requiring the government to determine and report how much time union members spend on union work at the taxpayer's expense.  The amount of official time awarded to employees performing union duties varies greatly.  Some government employees can devote 100 percent of their time to union representation activities despite receiving a government paycheck.

There have been numerous instances of union official time abuses.

  • John Reusing, a Social Security Administration employee who was also third vice president of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) local 1923 in Baltimore, Maryland, reported that the AFGE local conducted internal union business on official time.
  • The director of national programs and special events misused her official time privileges for personal gain by spending 100 hours of official time planning the "grand opening" of a local business.

The cost to taxpayers has been staggering.

  • In fiscal year 2009, federal employees logged 2,991,378 hours doing union work on government time.
  • During these almost three million hours government workers received government paychecks for what's called their "official time."
  • The cost to taxpayers: $129,100,798.
  • The largest categories of official time use in order of usage are general labor management, dispute resolution, term bargaining and mid-term bargaining.

Source: Vincent Vernuccio, "Official Time: Government Workers Perform Union Duties on the Taxpayers' Dime," Capital Research Center, November 1, 2011.


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