Union time on the people’s dime: A closer look at official time

Testimony to the House Subcommittee on Government Operations

The U.S. Capitol Building is seen shortly before sunset in Washington, U.S. May 17, 2017. REUTERS/Zach Gibson - RTX36B6A

On May 24, 2018, Darrell West testified before the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform’s Subcommittee on Government Operations on the use of federal labor union official time at agencies across the federal government. According to the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978, federal government employees are allowed “official time” to engage in representational activities, discussions of grievances, dispute resolution, labor relations training, labor-management relations, and department initiatives, among other things.

In his testimony, West addresses the notion of official time, how much it costs the federal government, the benefits of official time, and how proposed changes would affect federal employees.

Of the proposed reforms, West writes: “In my view, adoption of these provisions would weaken labor-management relations in the federal government, reduce the ability of government employees to air their concerns with management, and undermine agency performance. Like every other American, it is important that federal employees have the right to express their viewpoints and petition government for a redress of grievances. Curtailing those rights would deny federal workers important privileges that are guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.”

Read the full testimony.