VA moves to cut "official time" for unions. "Chaos" ensues

Back in May, we discussed the President’s executive order making it easier to fire delinquent government workers and cracking down on so-called “official time” for union officials. That’s the policy which has long allowed union leaders to hold taxpayer-funded government jobs but spend as much as 100% of their time doing union business rather than doing work for the public. They were also able to use government office space and resources on the taxpayer dime for strictly union business.

The president decided it was time to trim back on those practices severely and sent out the orders. Implementing them, however, has turned out to present some serious challenges, with the unions claiming that they weren’t given specific enough directions to put the new policies into effect. This is particularly true at the VA, where union officials claim that the orders have thrown their offices into “chaos.” (Government Executive, emphasis added)

The Veterans Affairs Department announced Friday that it has begun implementation of the Trump administration’s controversial executive order significantly curbing unions’ ability to use official time to represent employees…

But the American Federation of Government Employees said the department has provided little in the way of guidance on how to proceed, leading to “chaos” and inconsistencies.

“The VA failed to give the field any direction on how to implement [the executive order] in a consistent manner,” said Ibidun Roberts, an attorney with AFGE’s National VA Council. “Some facilities have implemented retroactive to last Friday; others have cut off employees’ [Personal Identity Verification] cards, preventing them from doing representational or agency work; and some have eliminated official time altogether.

It’s chaos, I tell ya. Chaos!

According to the union’s own records, there are a staggering 1,700 government employees just in the VA who have been using “official time” and nearly 500 who do it 100% of the time. That’s all on the taxpayer dime. The unions are not the government. The taxpayers should not be responsible for paying the wages of their officials, providing them with office space or footing the bill for their computers, phones and all the rest. The fact that the President is allowing a limited number of them to still spend 25% of their time conducting union business is an unwarranted bit of generosity if you ask me.

But how hard could this be to implement? The unions have office spaces with government supplies in them. Do you really need a “plan” for how to deal with this? Get Out. Go set up shop in your union hall. Problem solved.

If you’re one of the thousands of union officers on the government payroll who are not supposed to be using your time on the clock for union business, either quit and go to work at the union hall or get back to whatever your actual government job for the taxpayers was supposed to be. It’s really not complicated. Get Back To Work Or Leave.

And if you’re in the select group that’s still allowed to spend 25% of your time on union business, I realize we’re asking you to do some math here but surely you have a calculator app on your phone, right? Get back to work and if you are doing union business, keep track of how many hours you spend and report those hours. We really don’t have to call in the higher math department on this puzzle.

The policy is in place. It’s time to comply. Go do your union business elsewhere or resign from your positions. No “chaos” is required.