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The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground. —THOMAS JEFFERSON, 1788

The IRS isn’t the only federal agency spending taxpayer millions on unions

Credit: Watchdog.org

Credit: Watchdog.org

It was recently reported in this space that hundreds of employees of the Internal Revenue Service do union business full-time on the public’s dime. All told, 286 full-time agency staffers worked exclusively for the National Treasury Employees Union while receiving government paychecks in 2012 (the latest year for which statistics were available).

Nathan Mehrens, president of Americans for Limited Government, maintains that several other government agencies do precisely the same thing. They include:

Veterans Affairs. The scandal-scarred VA has more than 250 employees working full-time for the American Federation of Government Employees, the National Association of Government Employees, the National Federation of Federal Employees, and the Service Employees International Union.

“At least one of these 250 doesn’t even report to work at a department facility, but rather ‘teleworks’ from a private AFGE office in D.C.,” Mehrens noted.

Department of Transportation. Some 35 DOT employees exclusively on “official time” (aka union business) receive average annual salaries of $138,000. Some receive more than $170,000.

Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA pays more than $1.6 million per year to employees who work for their union full-time.

National Labor Relations Board. The NLRB has two employees working for their union full-time. Each makes more than $100,000 per year. Mehrens explained:

Under collective bargaining agreements between the agencies and the unions, the work that these employees do on ‘official time’ is controlled by the union, not the agency.

David Williams, president of the Taxpayers Protection Alliance, calls the situation “hyper-political.”

“When people pay taxes, they expect their money goes to bureaucrats who are doing their job,” he said.

According to the U.S. Department of Personnel Management:

Labor and management are equally accountable to the taxpayer and have a shared responsibility to ensure that official time is authorized and used appropriately.

But accountability and transparency have been lacking.

Though the OPM directs “agencies (to) report official time usage on an annual basis,” the office has not released data for the past two years.

Meantime, Democratic candidates receive 90-plus percent of the unions’ campaign contributions. Yet the Republican-controlled House of Representatives has failed to rein in the workplace subsidies. Said Mehrens:

If government unions want to have their own paid employees, that’s their prerogative. As things stand now, it’s a vicious circle that increases cost of government.

Read more by Kenric Ward at Watchdog.com.

Kenric Ward

Kenric Ward is a national correspondent and chief of the Virginia Bureau for Watchdog.org. Formerly a reporter and editor at two Pulitzer Prize-winning newspapers, Kenric has won dozens of state and national news awards for investigative articles. His most recent book is “Saints in Babylon: Mormons and Las Vegas.”

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