Daily Dose: Should Tax Dollars Be Used To Pay For Union Business?

It would be pretty hard to imagine a private-sector CEO knowingly paying his employees to do work for another company (or worse, the competition). But a recent piece by the Washington Post’s Joe Davidson explains that the federal government does something quite similar.

According to the story, a GOP congressman has introduced a bill to do away with a practice called “official time” that allows government workers to use on-the-clock hours for labor union business.

There is a theoretical argument against having the federal government pay union reps for work that sometimes is in opposition to the wishes of government managers. … But these valid concerns don’t take into account the reasons Congress provided for official time.

A challenge to unions’ ‘official time’ on the federal clock

Clearly, there are reasons both for and against.

The main argument FOR is that by law, unions are forced to represent even those federal employees who refuse to join and pay dues. To offset that requirement, certain workers are allowed to spend government time on certain union business (like representing employees in grievance cases, speaking at meetings with management and negotiating contracts).

The argument AGAINST is that, well, official time is unfair to the taxpayers. Union reps are compensated by Uncle Sam even though the work they’re doing is of no direct service to the public.

Should the federal government pay employees for time spent on union business?


“Daily Dose of the Washington Post” is a blog series created by GovLoop in partnership with The Washington Post. If you see great a story in the Post and want to ask a question around it, please send it to [email protected].

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