YOU PAY ‘Official’ Union Time?$$$$

Posted on June 1, 2011

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Official time is a  federal term for the hours spent by union officials employed by the government  conducting union business. The officials are paid their normal government  salaries for this work on behalf of the unions.

ARTICLE: Union Price Tag Grows at a Cost to U.S. Taxpayer

By Molly Henneberg…..Union behavior and their bargaining power has been  of intense interest in many states. As the country continues to work its way out  of a recession and the unemployment level is still hovering at a high 9 percent,  the additional costs of unions are again being scrutinized in Washington.

Unlike state government worker unions, federal  employees of unionized agencies are not required to join the union or pay  mandatory dues. Wisconsin lawmakers sought to abridge that power, sending the  nation into a frenzy.

Of specific interest on Capitol  Hill Wednesday was something known as official time. Official time is a  federal term for the hours spent by union officials employed by the government  conducting union business. The officials are paid their normal government  salaries for this work on behalf of the unions.

Official time is seen by supporters as compensation  for the fact that unions are required to handle labor issues related to all  employees, not just union members. When union officials negotiate with federal  managers over work rules, like appropriate attire and other human resource  requirements, those functions are carried out under official time.

Rep. Dennis  Ross, R-Fla., chairman of the Subcommittee on the Federal Workforce, U.S. Postal  Service, and Labor Policy, called it “charity” to federal employee  unions.

“This came at a cost of $129 million to American  taxpayers,” he says, citing a 2009 Office of Personnel Management report.

That’s about three million hours of official  time.

The provision was included in a law passed by  Congress in 1978, signed by President Jimmy  Carter. The law stipulated time on the clock could be used as long as that  time is negotiated with management and is agreed “to be reasonable, necessary,  and in the public interest.”

But conservatives in Congress say it isn’t  reasonable anymore and have railed against what they claim are inordinately high  government pay rates that are being used as a negotiating tactic by unions.

Republican Sen. Tom  Coburn of Oklahoma this week highlighted a report from the Congressional  Research Service, first reported by the Washington Times, which found 77,000  federal employees earn a higher salary than their respective governors. A union  representing federal employees said the bigger problem is payments to  contractors, not government workers.

Rep. Stephen  Lynch, D-Mass., thinks Republicans are targeting unions and argues official  time is fair. “This is absurd. Give me a break. “

Union leaders say official time makes the government  run more efficiently, and ultimately saves money.

John Gage, president of the American Federation of  Government Employees, said at the House hearing Wednesday, “If workers and  managements are really communicating, work place problems that would otherwise  escalate into costly litigation can be dealt with promptly and more  informally.”

For now, Republicans aren’t buying that argument.  Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Ga., has proposed a bill called the Federal Employee  Accountability Act of 2011, which would repeal parts of the 1978 law, and limit  how and when federal employees could use official time.

.foxnews.com/

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Posted in: NEWS SOURCES