CWF Applauds VA Secretary Robert Wilkie

Posted by Olivia Grady on Tuesday, November 13th, 2018 at 1:56 pm - Permalink

On November 8, 2018, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs announced through a press release by the Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs that it was ending official time for 430 medical professionals.

The press release was appropriately titled, “VA returns medical professionals currently serving unions to serving Veterans.”

Official time is a benefit negotiated by unions in collective bargaining agreements that allows government workers to do work for the unions while they are paid by the taxpayers.

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management published a report on May 17, 2018, titled, “Official Time Usage in the Federal Government – Fiscal Year 2016.” The report found that the total costs from official time in 2016 were $177.2 million and that federal government workers spent a total of over 3.6 million hours on official time.

At the Department of Veterans Affairs alone, employees spent over one million hours on official time, and this cost the taxpayer more than $29 million in 2016.

In addition to wasting taxpayer dollars, official time hurts veterans. In the report, OPM described how one registered nurse was elected to a local union position. That position allowed her to spend 50 percent of her time on union work. Unfortunately, while she was performing union work, no one was covering her clinic duties. The nurse chose the busiest clinic times and days to work for the union. The patients, therefore, had longer wait times, or their appointments needed to be rescheduled.

The VA will end official time for the medical professionals on November 15 when it repudiates parts of the collective bargaining agreements the VA under the Obama Administration made with the American Federation of Government Employees, the National Federation of Federal Employees, the National Association of Government Employees and the National Nurses United. The medical professionals include physicians, dentists, podiatrists, chiropractors, optometrists, registered nurses, physician assistants, and expanded-duty dental auxiliaries.

The Center for Worker Freedom strongly supports this change by Secretary Wilkie and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Taxpayer dollars should not be used to pay for union work, especially at the expense of our veterans.