Feds rally outside a Washington, D.C. courthouse where a union lawsuit is being tried. Photo credit: Chase Gunter

OPM orders agencies to report 'official time' data

Unionized feds rally outside a Washington, D.C. courthouse on July 25, 2018. (Photo credit: Chase Gunter)

Office of Personnel Management Director Dale Cabaniss directed agency heads to report on the amount of time federal employees spent on "taxpayer-funded union business" during Fiscal Year 2019.

In an Oct. 23 memo, Cabaniss told agencies that under an executive order from May 2018, agencies were required to track the amount of federal work time that was spent on union business – so-called official time -- and ensure that it was only used for authorized purposes.

The order specified that not more than 25% of an employee's time be spent on union activities. The order does not have an effect on official time agreements in existing union contracts, but essentially instructs agencies to limit the use of official time in new contract negotiations.

The workforce orders took effect after a judicial injunction was lifted Oct. 4. Prior to that, a federal court ruling had barred full implementation of the orders pending the outcome of legal challenges. A federal appeals court eventually ruled that an overarching lawsuit against the orders was not appropriate under federal law and that challenges must original with the Federal Labor Relations Authority.

The OPM chief's memo directed agency and department heads to collect information pertaining to time spent in contract negotiation, labor-management conflict resolution, expenses related to union activities, the amount of time that each employee spent on union activities, and the compensation and job title associated with each employee who engaged in union business during work hours. Agency heads were required to submit their reports by Jan. 31, 2020, and OPM hoped to publish its own report by June 2020.

Reader comments

Thu, Oct 31, 2019 Benny

Hmmmm, some Union representation has abused the Union time allotted for business. I know of one person that is a Union Steward at a VA, and he is no longer even doing his actual work on his Position Description (PD). He spends his entire day, week in and week out in the Union Steward office. He hasn't worked on his line in over 4 years. They really need to get a hold of it and revamp the system. Don't get me wrong, the Union is a good thing, but it is severely lacking oversight at many facilities throughout the government, not just the VA.

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