‘Mind-Numbing’ Union Work Rules Spawn Inefficiencies, Corruption
(Click here to download the July 2014 National Right to Work Committee Newsletter)
In recent weeks, media reports of agonizingly long waits for many Veterans Administration (VA) Department applicants seeking medical care, and the inability of many to get any care at all, have sparked a national firestorm.
But so far the substantial responsibility that federal union bosses who wield monopoly-bargaining power over 78% of Veterans Administration employees bear for the VA’s patient backlog and up to 1000 related needless deaths has received relatively little attention.
Law Herding Federal Workers Into Unions Should Be Voided
“The VA scandal powerfully illustrates why the so-called Civil Service ‘Reform’ Act [CSRA], which statutorily imposed union monopoly bargaining over employee disciplinary procedures and other work rules, ought to be repealed as soon as possible,” said National Right to Work Committee President Mark Mix.
Effectively, the Jimmy Carter-era CSRA makes federal union bosses like American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) President J. David Cox co-managers of the scandal-ridden VA.
And as Betsy McCaughey, the Empire State’s former lieutenant governor, explained in a late May column for the New York Post, the AFGE union contract at the VA is “filled with mind-numbing” rules.
These Big Labor work rules prevent workers from being “given a new task,” required to “change shifts, or . . . disciplined for shoddy work.”
Dr. McCaughey concluded that unless monopolistic unionism at the VA is eliminated or at least rolled back significantly, “the inefficiencies and corruption won’t be fixed.”
Federal Union Bosses Even Oppose Letting VA Patients Know About Better Alternatives
Federal union bosses even oppose a VA program rolled out in the summer of 2013 to “refer vets needing specialists to civilian medical centers, if their wait at their VA is too long or if they live too far away,” as Dr. McCaughey put it.
“It’s likely that the vast majority of veterans who need surgery and are 65 or older, and thus eligible for Medicare, would be better off being operated on at civilian hospitals, which have better survival rates for the procedures senior citizens most often require,” noted Mr. Mix.
“But, as shocking as it sounds, for Organized Labor bosses like AFGE czar Cox, it is apparently more important to keep increasing the number of VA employees subject to federal union control than it is to furnish ailing vets with what they need.”
Another gross abuse resulting from union monopoly bargaining at the VA is so-called “official time.”
According to a May 29 analysis for National Review Online by Jillian Kay Melchior, in 2012 the VA “paid at least $11.4 million to 174 nurses, mental-health specialists, and other health-care professionals who, instead of caring for veterans, worked full-time doing union business.”
Federal Employee Accountability Act a Step In the Right Direction
In fiscal 2011, the most recent year for which relevant data are available, the VA used nearly a million hours of this “official time” for employees working partly or entirely for federal unions, “costing taxpayers more than $42 million.”
“Until the day Congress finally steps up to the plate and repeals the CSRA,” said Mr. Mix, “taxpayers at least shouldn’t be forced to fund union class warfare and lobbying under the guise of ‘official time.’
“That’s why the Federal Employee Accountability Act, or S.785, is a significant, albeit modest, step in the right direction.”
Sponsored by pro-Right to Work Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), S.785 would mitigate the harm inflicted by the CSRA by repealing the two provisions in the statute that authorize “official time.”
“In the wake of the shocking revelations this year about abusive practices at the VA, for many of which government union bosses bear responsibility, how could Senate leaders not at least allow debates and recorded votes on S.785?” Mr. Mix concluded.