Union-label President Barack Obama and his allies in Congress have ferociously opposed legislative efforts to mitigate the potentially disruptive impact of the automatic federal spending cuts coming with sequestration. The White House is making it clear it does not want additional discretion to determine how to implement a 2.3% reduction in federal spending that theoretically starts today.
One reason why the President may not want express authority to avoid closing national parks or air traffic control towers is that he would then have to explain why taxpayers should continue paying for the salaries and benefits of “federal employees” who actually do no work for the federal government.
As Matt Patterson and Trey Kovacs of the Competitive Enterprise Institute pointed out in a Washington Times op-ed yesterday, “federal employees spent 3.4 million hours on union activities in fiscal 2011, costing taxpayers a whopping $155 million in one year alone”:
[A] bizarre provision in federal labor law called “official time,” which allows a unionized federal worker to work for his union while on his taxpayer-funded duty. Indeed, taxpayers actually pay public employees to labor for unions, which are, it cannot be stressed enough, private enterprises.
For example, James O’Grady is an environmental scientist for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) who makes $93,175 per year. Only he doesn’t do anything for the EPA, or the taxpayers writing his checks. Instead, he works 100 percent of his time for his union, the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE).
What’s more, he’s not alone. According to records obtained by Americans for Limited Government through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, the Department of Transportation (DOT) employed 35 workers who only carried out union work in 2012, while the EPA had 17. All of this amounts to a massive, expensive public donation to the coffers of labor bosses: More than three dozen of these “100 percent official time” workers from the DOT and EPA made more than $100,000 per year.