WASHINGTON, DC— Rep. Scott Franklin (FL-18) introduced the Taxpayer-Funded Union Time Transparency Act to require each federal agency to record and report to Congress the total time and taxpayer dollars spent allowing federal employees to engage in union activities. Occasionally, these activities can directly contradict the interests of the American taxpayer and Congressional oversight, like the House’s efforts to return to pre-COVID telework policies.  Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) is leading companion legislation in the Senate.

“Lingering pandemic telework policies cause backlogs and make it harder for Americans to get swift assistance,” Rep Franklin said.  “American taxpayers shouldn’t pay for empty federal buildings and get bad customer service. They also shouldn’t foot the bill for bureaucrats—who are supposed to be public servants—to help unions ‘organize’ against efforts to force federal employees back to work.  This bill increases transparency and ensures the Biden administration provides a full account of taxpayer-funded union time. I thank Sen. Ernst for leading this effort in the Senate.”

“It’s absurd that Iowans are forced to pay for federal employee unions that are fighting tooth and nail against workers returning to the office,”  Senator Ernst said, who is leading the effort in the Senate. “During Sunshine Week, I’m dragging shady spending into the light and exposing abuse of our dollars. Public service should always be about benefiting taxpayers, not bureaucrats. From failing to return to the office to wasting time on the job, we cannot allow the Biden administration to disregard critical reporting requirements and transparency measures. Every cent of Iowans' hard-earned money should be serving them, not bargaining for more tele-‘work.’”

Specifically, this bill requires federal agencies to produce annual time reports to document:

  • The cost to the agency of official time;
  • Detailed explanation of the purpose for instances when the agency authorized official time; and
  • Details on each employee who was authorized for official time including (1) the employee’s position and salary, (2) the total number of hours the employee spent on official time activities, (3) a percentage representing official time hours out of all hours worked, (4) the total number of hours, monetary value, and disclosure of reimbursements when agency property was used at no cost or a discount rate on official time, (5) any expenses paid by the agency for official time activities, and (6) an explanation for any increases when compared to the report from the previous year.

Federal law allows federal employees to represent labor organizations and perform other non-agency business while getting paid by American taxpayers.  The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) used to publish annual reports detailing the cost to taxpayers of each agency’s use of “taxpayer-funded union time,” or “official time.” However, the Biden administration has yet to publish such a report; the most recent was published in October 2020. In fact, Biden’s OPM stopped publishing reports and removed a repository of information with official time usage in the federal government for over ten years.