Unions are kind of a mixed bag. Some people think they’re the greatest thing since sliced bread. Others believe they’re the reason for a lot of our nation’s problems. Like most things, the truth is probably somewhere in the middle.
However, perhaps we can all agree that government employees who are also union officers should probably not be receiving government pay while working on union business?
Republicans on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (HOGR) are demanding more information on all federal employees who collect taxpayer-funded salaries while conducting business for government worker unions.
In what could be the precursor to a coming legislative battle over “official time,” panel chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah and his committee colleagues fired off letters to agency heads Friday, giving them until Feb. 26 to disclose the names, positions and salaries of any employees who work full- or part-time on union activities while on the taxpayer’s dime.
The letters come as the House considers a bill requiring the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) produce an annual report on federal employees’ use of official time, including the exact ways time was used. The federal personnel agency publishes sporadic reports on official time, but hasn’t issued one since 2012.
It goes on to note some 400 federal employees who conduct union business while on the taxpayers’ dime.
The issue at play here isn’t whether government unions are a good thing, or even whether union officials should be compensated for what they do. The issue is simple: the American taxpayer shouldn’t be forced to pay for union business.
If compensation is warranted, then the union — and by extension, the union members — should provide that compensation, not the federal government.
Seriously, can’t we agree on something so simple as this? The debate on whether federal employees should be unionized is the topic for another day. For today, let’s just agree that we shouldn’t be paying for them to do their union business. It’s about expecting ethical behavior from every level of government.