Proposed bill would reduce union activity in federal workplace being subsidized by taxpayers

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A bill in introduced on Wednesday by Rep. Phil Gingrey, (R-Ga.), would repeal two sections of the 1978 Civil Service Reform Act that permits federal employees to conduct union business during paid working hours.

The 2011 Federal Employee Accountability Act (H.R. 122) would limit the amount of time union members can participate in collective bargaining and arbitration of grievances, while on the job. Data provided by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management  showed that federal employees used 2.9 million hours of official work time for union activities, costing taxpayers $121 million in 2008, up from $113 in 2007.

Limiting official union activities while on the taxpayer’s clock could save $600 million over five years, according to Gingrey.

“We have seen an increase in union activity on official time lead to a more inefficient workforce, and it is time to stop subsidizing this problem,” Gingrey wrote in an email to colleagues. “While families all over the nation are tightening their belts and cutting their own spending, it should not be the practice of the federal government to increase the size and spending of its budget and federal agencies.”

Colleen Kelly, president of the National Treasury Employees Union said the bill would be a “significant step backward in the effective functioning of a taxpayer-centered labor-management relations system in the federal government.”

Matt Biggs, legislative and political director for the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, called the information “misleading and downright inaccurate.”

“Make no mistake about it though, these will be serious attacks on federal workers and it is critically important that we not only work against them here in Washington, but also that we significantly build our membership internally to levels that will make us even more successful,” Biggs wrote in an e-mail.

The group Citizens Against Government Waste issued a spending cut alert saying “Union activity, which consistently causes disruptions and inefficiencies in the workplace, should not be subsidized by taxpayers,” said CAGW President Tom Schatz. “At a time when the private sector is expected to do more with less, the federal government should be following this model and making sure they can be as efficient as possible; one way to do this is bar union activity on taxpayer time.”

Government Executive

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