By Fred Wszolek
One real positive thing on the schedule in the 113th Congress is a bill to eliminate taxpayer funding of union activities. That’s right – in case you missed it – current law allows government employees to conduct union business on the federal clock. It’s one of those little known items embedded in the 1978 Civil Service Reform Act.
At the time, Big Labor had the gumption to force the federal government to pay for a worker’s time as they were performing union duties. That would seem patently unfair to the average person. After all, labor bosses are flush with cash derived from union dues. But Big Labor is more concerned with controlling federal agencies than fairness.
No problem, says Georgia Congressman Phil Gingrey. He has vowed to fix it. Gingrey is introducing his Federal Employee Accountability Act as the new Congress gets underway. The bill was first presented in 2009 and “will create efficiency in the federal workforce and maintain oversight over taxpayer dollars by ensuring that civil servants are performing the job that they were hired to do, rather than working for the union on the taxpayer dime,” a Gingrey spokesperson told National Journal.
The legislation will seek to eliminate provisions in that 1978 law, which allows union work during official federal work hours, known as “official time.” And “official time” is defined as time devoted to collective bargaining, arbitration and any all matters deemed necessary by union bosses.
While Big Labor advocates are, predictably, raising alarms over the Gingrey measure, it’s difficult to refute the hard numbers. A fiscal year 2010 survey by the Office of Personnel Management raised eyebrows when it discovered three million plus “official time” hours were used to conduct collective bargaining and grievances arbitration. Eliminating those rules could save anywhere from $686 million to $1.3 billion taxpayer dollars over the next five to 10 years.