More union abuse using your tax dollar

Have you ever heard of a government employee being on “official time”?  That may conjure up images of a federal worker actually doing his or her job, but nothing could be further from the truth.

Official time is governmentspeak for,

… a mechanism by which the government pays union officials to work on union matters during their government workdays.

Yes, you read that correctly.  Government employees are allowed to spend their time “on duty” doing union business, and you, the taxpayer are paying their full salaries and health care and pensions while they do so.

The Office of Personnel Management reports that federal employees spent over three million hours on official time in 2010, costing the taxpayers about $137 million in salary and benefits costs.

But, it gets better.

Some union officials split their time between union work and government work. Others, amazingly enough, work exclusively on union business while getting paid for their government “jobs,” and may not even show up at their government jobs for months at a time. The Department of Homeland Security alone had 62 employees on full-time official time as of July 2011, according to the department’s disclosure. [emphasis supplied]

Yes, you read that correctly, too.  You paid the salaries and benefits for 62 Department of Homeland Security employees who did absolutely nothing for Homeland Security.  They worked full time for their union.

It’s anyone’s guess as to how many full time government employees participate in this union gig.

The only thorough report on official time at the federal level was released in 1998, when the Republican-controlled House Appropriations Committee required the OPM to do so. At that time, 946 federal employees were on full-time official time, with another 912 spending at least 75% of their days on official time. Today the overall number is a mystery, because no law requires the federal government to disclose it.

Now you know why you have trouble getting  government employees to answer your phone call…they are working for the unions instead.


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The Sound Off Sister was an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and special trial attorney for the Department of Justice, Criminal Division; a partner in the Florida law firm of Shutts & Bowen, and an adjunct professor at the University of Miami, School of Law. The Sound Off Sister offers frequent commentary concerning legislation making its way through Congress, including the health reform legislation passed in early 2010.


  1. ricbee on October 3, 2012 at 11:04 pm

    These are the things that unions fight for,not just a few more dollars. The public thinks it’s about the money or benefits.

  2. once was on October 4, 2012 at 12:30 pm

    Isn’t that the same?practice that we have here in Connecticut? Union leaders must be given time off to do their ‘union business’.?

    • Lynn on October 5, 2012 at 9:41 am

      Yes, they given time off to campaign. It’s frightening. If they can take time off, maybe we can do without them.

  3. JBS on October 4, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    In the teachers’ unions, the public pays for all of the union officials, local representatives included. In the case of the national union elites, who pays for the salaries and all of the lavish perks they need? I know that at the upper levels of the union management, they feed off the membership.
    The public, us, pays and pays. Business as usual.

  4. PatRiot on October 4, 2012 at 8:20 pm

    That would be double dipping.??When Reagan was accused of triple dipping, it was portrayed as “Well, how dare he”.??Who knew … .they were actually jealous.

    • PatRiot on October 4, 2012 at 8:22 pm

      I find it harder and harder to pull my wallet out of my pocket every day.? Must be a self preservation instinct.

    • JBS on October 5, 2012 at 8:08 am

      It’s actually written in to the contract language.

  5. dairyair on October 4, 2012 at 8:35 pm


  6. Tim-in-Alabama on October 9, 2012 at 10:58 pm

    We should be evil bosses and end union memberships for “our” employees.


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