Bill Introduced to Eliminate Official Time

A bill introduced by Representative Francis Rooney (R-FL) would prevent federal employees from engaging in some union activity, known as “official time,” while on the job. Currently, federal employees who serve as representatives for their agency’s official union have the statutory right to perform certain union duties while at work. The legislation, H.R. 4090, would eliminate this right.

In May 2018, President Trump issued an executive order limiting the use of official time. Under the order, federal employees must spend at least three-quarters of their paid time performing agency business or attending necessary training. Employees were barred from using more than one quarter of their time on union activity.

In a statement to the Federal Times, National Treasury Employee Union National President Tony Reardon said, “Previous proposals to ban official time from the federal workplace have failed because Congress understands that it is a small but important piece of labor-management relations in the federal sector. It is not union time. It is time spent to improve agency operations and the workplace for the benefit of employees, their managers and the taxpayers they all serve. Federal law expressly prohibits the use of official time for internal union business. Instead, it is used to solve problems in the workplace.”

According to the Office of Personnel Management, in 2016, approximately 2.95 hours of official time were used per bargaining unit employee in the federal government. This time cost the government over $177 million in salary expenses.

National Right to Work Committee President Mark Mix said in a statement supporting the legislation to Federal Times, “This bill will end the outrageous payment of tax dollars to union officials pretending to be government employees. Labor unions are private organizations pursuing their own interests — not taxpayers’ interests. As such, Big Labor should have no more influence over government policy than any other private entity. They certainly shouldn’t be collecting government paychecks for non-government work.”

Rooney also introduced legislation last year which would have made it easier for individuals to leave employee unions. Neither piece of legislation has garnered any cosponsors or a Senate companion.

Posted in From the Hill

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