Many government employees across the nation are getting paid on the taxpayers job not to do the job they were hired to do, notes a report by the Goldwater Institute.
Instead, they are working full-time for private labor unions, collecting full salaries and benefits from taxpayers and accruing seniority while not providing any public service.
In one of his less-publicized efforts to help Americans, President Trump issued an order in May 2018 curbing release time, but Joe Biden is expected to repeal the order soon after taking office in January.
Trump said in his order: “No agency should pay for federal labor organizations’ expenses, except where required by law. Agencies should eliminate unrestricted grants of taxpayer-funded union time and instead require employees to obtain specific authorization before using such time. Agencies should also monitor use of taxpayer-funded union time, ensure it is used only for authorized purposes, and make information regarding its use readily available to the public.”
Goldwater said it seems hard to believe that government employees “are getting paid not to do the job they were hired to do, but to work full-time for private labor unions, all on taxpayers’ dime.”
“But not only is it happening — it’s incredibly common in cities and school districts across the country,” said the institute, which has compiled a series of reports on the issue.
“Under release time, which occurs on the local, state, and federal level, government employees are ‘released’ from the jobs they were hired to do and instead work full-time for labor unions, while still receiving their full salary and benefits paid for by taxpayers. That means that a teacher on release time does not spend their time educating students, and a firefighter on release time doesn’t spend their time fighting fires. Instead, they spend their time negotiating higher wages, participating in lobbying and political activities, recruiting new union members, attending union conferences and seminars, and other activities that advance the union’s interest instead of the public interest,” the report said.
Goldwater investigative reporter Mark Flatten surveyed 150 jurisdictions across America – three in every state – and found more than 400,000 hours of paid release time annually can be documented.
It also found that of the 150 agencies it contacted, only 82 could produce data on the number of hours they allowed in release time.
Among the worst cases is the city of Phoenix, which allowed 67,511 hours of paid union release time at a cost of about $3.7 million last fiscal year, the report said.
Miami-Dade County Public Schools in Florida, which according to contracts allows more than 22,000 hours a year, were among the jurisdictions that failed to provide information.
“The federal government allows about 3.6 million hours of release time (known as ‘official time’ on the federal level) every year. That adds up to a $177 million bill for taxpayers,” the report said.
The institute says the fight “must happen on two fronts – through litigation and legislation.”
Goldwater is “currently standing up for taxpayers through lawsuits challenging release time in Arizona, Texas, and New Jersey.”
The institute said lawmakers need to be urged to “pursue policy reforms that prohibit public expenditures on activities that advance private, special interests, including those of private labor unions,” the institute said.