If you live in Fairfax County, Va. — and even if you don’t — you should be outraged to learn that, according to recently obtained documents, public sector employees are allowed to spend unlimited taxpayer-funded hours doing union work instead of their actual jobs.
Public employees doing taxpayer-funded union work is known as “official time” on the federal level and “release time” in the states. With Virginia outlawing collective bargaining agreements for public employees, it’s very unlikely a county like Fairfax would have a release time policy. So much so that County Supervisor Pat Herrity was surprised to find out that it did.
“The first thing to do is getting the facts and that’s where I’ll focus my attention,” Herrity told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “I want to get to the bottom of this and how we’re tracking it.”
According to the documents provided to TheDCNF, Fairfax County public employees are allowed unlimited release time to help ten designated public unions with grievance complaints. The grievances are not even required to be filed.
“I believe this merits further investigation,” Herrity added. “My big concern is what are the controls and tracking procedures and what is considered appreciate activities.”
Additionally each of the ten unions are allowed 240 hours in release time annually for lobbying and other political activities. The county documents were first obtained by the Center on National Labor Policy through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.
Public sector collective bargaining agreements are outlawed in Virginia as part of the state right-to-work law. Right-to-work bans public sector collective bargaining agreements and any mandatory union dues. In contrast collective bargaining agreements subject public employees to rules negotiated between public officials and the unions.
Counties in right-to-work states can still make deals with unions but are more limited. Without a collective bargaining agreement, employment policies are likely implemented by the county human resource department. This includes deals made with public sector union.
Herrity plans to take the issue to the auditor for the board of supervisors. An investigation would likely only take a few months or so. The hope would be to find out the specifics of the policy, how it is being tracked and how much of the county budget is going towards it.
County employees that work for the police, library, park authority, sheriff office and general maintenance among others have used release time.
This report, by Connor D. Wolf, was cross-posted by arrangement with the Daily Caller News Foundation.