-By Warner Todd Huston
Must be nice to be a government worker in a government union. Heck, some of these government union guys are even paid not to work and paid by the taxpayers to do so, yet!
Vincent Vernuccio, labor policy guy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, tells us that the Obama administration is even ignoring its responsibility to report on the matter. Obama is over a year late in releasing its Time Usage in the Federal Government Report, a report that tracks all the time that government union members spend working for the union bosses on the dime of the people.
The sad fact is that many government union contracts have a provision in them that stipulates that union members that have duties with the union itself (administrative, recruitment, what have you) can perform these duties while they are on the job and being paid by the taxpayers supposedly to do government business.
This is a great boon to the unions because they don't have to hire people outside their current work force to do these union duties, they can have these duties performed during the work day, AND they get their time paid for by taxpayers. Essentially, unions are getting all these union duties performed for free to unions but at the expense to the taxpayers.
In 2008, for instance, this largesse to unions at the expense to taxpayers cost the federal government $121 million -- a multi-million dollar gift to unions.
However, this special give away to unions has come under fire.
Title 5 of the U.S. Code authorizes official time, but that may soon change. In January, Rep. Phil Gingrey, Georgia Republican, introduced the Federal Employee Accountability Act of 2011(H.R. 122). Mr. Gingrey calls official time "an abuse of taxpayer dollars." He notes that past reporting was voluntary and the number of hours spent on paid union activity could be much higher. The congressman says that doing away with official time could save taxpayers as much as $600 million over five years and $1.2 billion over 10.
Sadly, the Obama led Labor Department is stonewalling all requests to release this report. It isn't just non-governmental agencies that Obama's Dept. of Labor is ignoring, either. Obama is refusing to respond even to Congress.
This is just of a piece with the essential lawlessness of this administration.