The Office of Personnel Management released it annual ”Labor-Management Relations: Reports On Official Time” report Monday. The term “official time” refers to ” time spent by Federal employees performing representational work for a bargaining unit in lieu of their regularly assigned work.” In other words, the time those employees spent doing union activities instead of their job but still getting paid.
This is entirely legal. It is essentially viewed as a trade-off for certain limitations put on federal unions, such as prohibitions on striking.
So how much time was spent doing this? The report found:
During FY 2011, unions represented 1,202,733 non-Postal Federal civil service bargaining unit employees, an increase of 17,048 bargaining unit employees compared to FY 2010. Agencies reported that bargaining unit employees spent a total of 3,395,187 hours performing representational duties on official time, an increase of 9.66 percent compared to FY 2010. Government-wide, the number of official time hours used per bargaining unit employee on representational matters increased from 2.61 hours in FY 2010 to 2.82 hours during FY 2011.
The report also noted: “Official time costs represented one tenth of one percent of the total cost of salary and benefits for Federal employees in FY 2011.”
For comparison’s sake, the FY 2010 report found that that bargaining unit employees spent a total of 3,096,019 million hours performing union duties on official time. That puts the increase at nearly 300,000 hours in a single year.
It is a significant boost from FY 2008, the last full year of the previous administration, when the number was 2,893,922 hours. In FY 2002 it was as high as 4,765,484 hours. The number steadily decreased during most of the Bush administration, hitting a low of 2,718,142 in FY 2007, before it started rising again.