CNLP Exposes of Fairfax County Board’s Kickbacks to SEIU

On October 1, 2015, in CNLP Cases, Public Policy, by Katelyn Nuckoles

SEIU and nine other unions are being paid by Fairfax County taxpayers to lobby and for political action (Full report to be published next week) For Virginians, unions and employee organizations have relatively little hold on public officials and their funding…or so one would think. Virginia stands as one of only three states that forbid […]

seiu-flexing-muscle2

SEIU and nine other unions are being paid by Fairfax County taxpayers to lobby and for political action

(Full report to be published next week)

For Virginians, unions and employee organizations have relatively little hold on public officials and their funding…or so one would think. Virginia stands as one of only three states that forbid collective bargaining across all branches of public workers; including firefighters, police officers, and teachers. For unions or otherwise noted employee organizations, collective bargaining is the most powerful tool in their arsenal for increased privileges for union officials.

Along with the Carolina’s, Virginia has taken great measures to protect itself from the bureaucratic abuses of union privilege in the public workspace.

In Washington, elected officials crafted a loophole in the Federal system called “official time”. Known also as ‘union time,’ ‘release time,’ and unidentified administrative leave, by definition official time occurs when a union official who is a federal employee uses their government paid regular work hours to attend to union activities. Many federal employees though paid by the taxpayer for full-time work, the work performed is exclusively for their labor union, not the taxpayer.[i]

As official time is a unique aspect of federal collective bargaining it comes as an initial surprise it not only exists, but also thrives in Virginia’s public systems despite their state-wide policies prohibiting the formal practice of collective bargaining.

While researching the matter, it became apparent that on the state level, the system of record keeping is so scattered by municipality and branch that no form of report from either government or academia, has even been drafted to account for hours of paid official time spent by local employees on union business.

Rumors amid state employees using mandated leave time for attendance at union conventions sparked curiosity at the Center on National Labor Policy, Inc. who pursued the research on the above matter.

On March of 2015, under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act  §2.2-3704 et seq.,, a request was sent to the Human Resources Director of Fairfax County’s Public Offices regarding “official time.”

CNLP received a copy of the chapter in Fairfax County’s Personnel Regulation Policies, and subsequent memorandums dictating administrative approval of official time and how official time was to be treated. The loopholes immediately became apparent.

These documents outlined a policy that allowed 240 hours, or 30 full workdays a year, for each “employee organization” officials to attend regular meetings and to deal with employee-related issues. Another 240 hours for each organization per year were allotted to attend conventions or participate in training. [ii]

On top of the 600 paid workdays for not working, an unlimited amount of time is given to the union representative involved with an employee concern. This grant of unlimited paid leave applied to each employee organization, for which there are 10 recognized in Fairfax County.

Though official time is granted to representatives and employee organization officers only, the County provided no list of union officials nor how much “organizational leave” each employee takes.

Audits of these leave records are cited to take place. Yet, when CNLP requested the gross amount of official time taken by public employees from 2012 to present, no information could be provided.  By 2012, the County halted record keeping of its employees on official time and shifted that responsibility to its use and monitoring to the unions themselves. It was explained that it was the employee organizations’ responsibility to monitor official time.

This discovery is made even more astounding by policies’ being recognized in the Personnel Regulations Handbook for Fairfax County Employees. Approved by the county’s ruling board, the Handbook blatantly stands against Virginia’s legislation and voluntarily extends benefits traditionally garnered through collective bargaining.

The lack of records on which state officials use public funds for union lobbying, political campaigining, or union conventions is as inexcusable as it is expected.

Union officials have long since manipulated the informal system of politics when the formal system of regulation has failed to accomplish their goals. It is true in Virginia’s use of unauthorized official time as in the Federal system’s placement of union heads into coveted positions of power.

On both the federal and state level, manipulation of public funding for union politics is wide spread. CNLP is committed to unveiling these hidden policies so every citizen can understand the real impact of employee organizations in their government. As a defender of the worker and taxpayer, regardless of affiliation, we demand the accountability of public officials regarding how tax dollars are being spent. Starting here in Virginia,

It is inherently unjust for to allow unions to receive special benefits for “members-only” activities at taxpayer expense dressed up as official government duties.

[i] Higgins, S. (2015, March). GOP looks to stop feds from doing union work on taxpayer’s dime. The Examiner.

[ii] Documents available by request to CNLP.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *