As a shop steward (aka union representative) of a company that I worked for decades ago, I performed all union duties during my off-time from work. Only once did I attend a union function on company time and that was because my presence was requested at on on-going contract negotiation between management and the union. My presence which lasted no longer than thirty minutes was agreed upon by both parties to which I obliged. Before that day and ever since, all other union activities performed by me occurred before and after work.
Then we have the public sector employees hired by the government to do specific jobs, jobs of which they are never present to do because these individuals are elsewhere performing union work which is a full-time job in itself. Yet these individuals collect full-time salaries from the federal, state or local government agencies to which they were hired, as if they are present and as if they are entitled to do so. Therein lies the problem.
The practice on the state and local level is called union “RELEASE TIME” and on the federal level it’s known as union “OFFICIAL TIME.” It is a government subsidy to labor organizations funded by American taxpayers who pay the full-time salaries of these men and women including their pensions and health care benefits. Under this subsidy, taxpayers also foot the bill for office space, supplies and travel of these medical professionals working full-time for unions. The labels are part of the scam to protect the union’s interests.
Case in point, the Veterans’ Administration
To use Progressive terminology, it is not fair or right for public sector employees to receive a “fair wage” (and better) in accordance with their collective bargaining agreements while failing to do the original job to which they were hired because they are not fulfilling their responsibilities which is to our Veterans and their families. MOST importantly, our Veterans are suffering because they are
- not being cared for in a timely fashion;
- thrown on a wait-list;
- get lost between the cracks and endless red tape;
- in many cases die from their illnesses or commit suicide because of failure to receive proper health and/or mental care.
While there are many doctors and professionals on duty at VA centers across the nation, there is a need for so many more. In the meantime, the American taxpayer pays the salaries for medical professionals who do union work instead of that which they were hired to do. Thus, it is good news to learn that the Veterans’ Administration is changing the game and the unions don’t like it one bit.
VA Medical Professionals from Serving Unions to Serving Veterans
Starting yesterday, Thursday, November 15, 2018, the Veterans Administration rejecting a provision put into place by the Obama administration with collective bargaining has moved approximately 430 employees medical professionals from their union work activities back to their health care jobs in which they will serve our veterans as hired to do in the first place.
As reported in a November 8, 2018, press release from the VA’s Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs, the Veterans’ Administration under under Title 38 of the U.S.C. maintains a separate system for the employment of medical employees. The ban now in effect which applies to more than 104,000 Title 38 employees eliminated “all forms of taxpayer-funded union work for the following professions”:
- Registered Nurse
- Physician assistant
- Expanded-Duty Dental Auxiliary
The unions with whom Obama administration negotiated these terms which had a negative effect on the quality, care and availability of services to our Veterans are American Federation of Government Employees, National Federation of Federal Employees, National Association of Government Employees and National Nurses United.
As stated by Jacquelyn Hayes-Byrd, VA Acting Assistant Secretary for Human Resources and Administration,
“It’s common sense…Allowing health care workers to do taxpayer-funded union work instead of serving Veterans impacts patient care negatively. President Trump has made it clear – VA employees should always put Veterans first. And when we hire medical professionals to take care of Veterans, that’s what they should do at all times. No excuses, no exceptions.”
To backup its decision, the Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs cited the following:
As an example of the negative effect taxpayer-funded union time has on Veteran care, one VA registered nurse who was elected as a local union official receives 100 percent taxpayer funded union time. Although she no longer provides patient care, she continues to receive a nurse’s salary, which at VA averages more than $90,000 per year.
Department-wide in fiscal year 2016, VA employees spent more than a million hours doing taxpayer-funded union work at a total cost of more than $49 million….
The VA further goes on to state regarding on-going union contract negotations:
VA is in the process of renegotiating several of VA’s national collective bargaining agreements to ensure official time allocations are putting Veterans first. The negotiations are guided by federal law that permits VA to set taxpayer-funded union work (also known as official time) amounts contractually that are reasonable, necessary and in the public interest.
Although the new edict put into place by the VA is in their right under federal law, collective bargaining is attacking President Donald J. Trump and has filed court actions to stop its implementation. (See: Unions Sue VA Over Official Time Edict) Official talking points of federal employees who have for too long not been held accountable and made to do the job that they were hired to do is “Trump hates unions” and as we heard earlier this week, “Trump does not care for our veterans.” Of course, that was pertaining to another fake issue but you can bet that the talking points were molded by the same actors.
Veterans first by any means necessary. No excuses. Our veterans deserve better and those tasked with doing the job must not be excused from the task at hand to do the bidding of labor unions.
Cross-posted on Grumpy Opinions.