|WORKING FOR YOU? In 2011, the American Federation of Government
Employees sued to prevent essential employees from working during a
“Taxpayers spent around $156 million on federal employees who did no federal
work at all,” said Nathan Mehrens, president of Americans for Limited
Watchdog.org reported last week that union business — oxymoronically classified
as “official time” — is subsidized by the IRS. Mehrens uncovered similar
behavior at other agencies.
At the IRS, 286 full-time staffers worked exclusively for the National Treasury
Employees Union while receiving government paychecks in 2012 (the latest year
for which statistics were available).
Mehrens’ group exposed several other agencies that fully fund union business
with public money. These include:
Veterans Affairs. The scandal-scarred VA has more than 250 employees working
full-time for the American Federation of Government Employees, the National
Association of Government Employees, the National Federation of Federal
Employees and the Service Employees International Union.
“At least one of these 250 doesn’t even report to work at a department facility,
but rather ‘teleworks’ from a private AFGE office in D.C.,” Mehrens noted.
Department of Transportation. Some 35 DOT employees exclusively on “official
time” receive average annual salaries of $138,000. Some receive more than
Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA pays more than $1.6 million per year to
employees who work for their union full-time.
National Labor Relations Board. The NLRB has two employees working for their
union full-time. Each makes more than $100,000 per year.
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“Under collective bargaining agreements between the
agencies and the unions, the work that these employees do on
‘official time’ is controlled by the union, not the agency,” Mehrens
David Williams, president of the Taxpayers Protection Alliance,
calls the situation “hyper-political.”
“When people pay taxes, they expect their money goes
to bureaucrats who are doing their job,” he said.
According to the U.S. Department of Personnel Management, “Labor and
management are equally accountable to the taxpayer and have a shared
responsibility to ensure that official time is authorized and used
But accountability and transparency have been lacking.
Though the OPM directs “agencies (to) report official time usage on
an annual basis,” the office has not released data for the past two
Meantime, Democratic candidates receive 90-plus percent of the
unions’ campaign contributions. Yet the Republican-controlled House
of Representatives has failed to rein in the workplace subsidies.
“If government unions want to have their own paid employees, that’s
their prerogative,” Mehrens told Watchdog. “As things stand now,
it’s a vicious circle that increases cost of government.”
Kenric Ward is a veteran journalist who has worked on three Pulitzer
Prize-winning newspapers. A California native, he received a BA from
UCLA (Political Science/Phi Beta Kappa) and holds an MBA. He
reported and edited at the San Jose Mercury News and the Las Vegas
Sun before joining Watchdog.org in 2012 as Virginia Bureau Chief.
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