Summary: Few Americans are aware that, through their tax dollars, they finance labor unions through a practice known as “official time” or “release time.” The cost to taxpayers is skyrocketing, while—thanks to Obama administration stonewalling—accountability is declining. Fortunately, reformers are working to rein in this costly, corrupt practice.
Each working day, government employees report for work but do not perform governmental duties. Instead, they work for a private enterprise void of any public purpose—their union. Taxpayers pay for these employees’ wages, pensions, and health care benefits. Taxpayers pay for office space, supplies, and travel, too.
It’s all part of an expensive government subsidy to labor organizations known at the federal level as union “official time,” and on the state and local level as union “release time.” Government employees receive paid time off to perform union activities unrelated to their government responsibilities. Thanks to haphazard recordkeeping and lack of transparency, it is impossible to know the true cost of union official time, but the available records since 1998 indicate that, at the federal level alone, it has cost taxpayers more than $1 billion.