On Friday the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation submitted comments to the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA), pressing the agency to issue a policy statement forbidding the use of “official time” for union lobbying purposes. Union “Official time” occurs when federal union officials are paid by taxpayers while doing union business.
The FLRA began accepting comments on March 25, in response to the Foundation’s request in August 2019 that the agency issue guidance on this topic.
The Foundation’s comments point out that previous FLRA decisions justifying the use of “official time” for lobbying the federal government is inconsistent with longstanding federal law. The comments also explain how rampant the problem is and why it necessitates guidance from the FLRA:
“Put simply, the Authority’s prior precedent is inconsistent with [federal law]. This inconsistency has real-world implications. For example, in 2016, union officials throughout the government spent 2,738,363.88 hours of official time on actions they deemed “reasonable, necessary, and in the public interest,” including lobbying Congress…This is an astronomical number of hours, resulting in a significant amount of taxpayer money funding lobbying in violation of federal law.”
In light of this, the Foundation’s comments argue that the FLRA should “immediately and explicitly affirm the prohibitions on using official time for lobbying.”
In fact, one member of the FLRA has already recognized the strength of the Foundation’s argument, and wrote in a dissenting opinion when comments were solicited that the existing justification for this activity was so “strained and contorted” that waiting for comments shouldn’t even be necessary prior to issuing guidance that official time for union lobbying violates the law.
Read the Foundation’s full comments to the FLRA here.
The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, assists thousands of employees in more than 250 cases nationwide per year.