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Ernst Fights to Track Taxpayer Dollars Subsidizing Federal Employee Unions

Biden’s bureaucrats working on behalf of themselves while secretly billing taxpayers for union activities

WASHINGTON – In honor of Sunshine Week, the annual celebration of transparency in government, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) is leading the Taxpayer-Funded Union Time Transparency Act to track the total amount taxpayers are subsidizing federal employee unions. This effort requires each federal agency to produce and publicly post an annual report documenting the cost billed to taxpayers for union activities and the amount of time spent by federal employees working on behalf of themselves, instead of the hardworking Americans paying their salaries.

President Biden’s Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has stopped reporting “taxpayer-funded union time,” or “official time,” which agencies use to pay federal employees to conduct activities on behalf of federal employee labor unions, not the agencies that employ them or the American taxpayer. In 2019, the last year for which data is available, OPM reported that union activities during official time cost taxpayers $135 million, while federal employees spent 2.6 million hours – totaling 296 years – working for their union instead of doing their agency jobs.

Additionally, unions fighting off efforts to make federal employees come back to work are secretly billing hardworking Americans, and President Biden is hiding the cost.

“It’s absurd that Iowans are forced to pay for federal employee unions that are fighting tooth and nail against workers returning to the office,” said Senator Ernst. “During Sunshine Week, I’m dragging shady spending into the light and exposing abuse of our dollars. Public service should always be about benefiting taxpayers, not bureaucrats. From failing to return to the office to wasting time on the job, we cannot allow the Biden administration to disregard critical reporting requirements and transparency measures. Every cent of Iowans' hard-earned money should be serving them, not bargaining for more tele-‘work.’”

“Lingering pandemic telework policies cause backlogs and make it harder for Americans to get swift assistance,” said Rep. Scott Franklin (R-Fl.), who is leading this effort in the House. “American taxpayers shouldn’t pay for empty federal buildings and get bad customer service. They also shouldn’t foot the bill for bureaucrats—who are supposed to be public servants—to help unions ‘organize’ against efforts to force federal employees back to work.  This bill increases transparency and ensures the Biden Administration provides a full account of taxpayer-funded union time. I thank Sen. Ernst for leading this effort in the Senate.”

The bill requires federal agencies to produce annual time reports to document:

  • The cost to the agency of official time;
  • Detailed explanation of the purpose for instances when the agency authorized official time; and
  • Details on each employee who was authorized for official time including (1) the employee’s position and salary, (2) the total number of hours the employee spent on official time activities, (3) a percentage representing official time hours out of all hours worked, (4) the total number of hours, monetary value, and disclosure of reimbursements when agency property was used at no cost or a discount rate on official time, (5) any expenses paid by the agency for official time activities, and (6) an explanation for any increases when compared to the report from the previous year.