Fairfax County Public Schools Spend More than $5.8 Million on Big Labor Grants

According to the approved 2016 Fairfax County Public Schools Budget, School Board Members approved spending $5.8 million for substitute teachers and the corresponding full-time teachers who were taking paid leave to work for labor unions.

Exposed:  SEIU and NEA union bosses are among the freeloading “Employee Organizations” receiving multi-million dollar grants from Fairfax County to leave their assigned jobs and participate in exclusive union activities and lobbying.

A CNLP Special Report

Table of Contents

Download CNLP's Report: Virginia Wasted Tax on Paid Union Leave (2015)
Download CNLP’s Report: Virginia Wasted Tax on Paid Union Leave (2015)

Executive Summary


Employee Organization Leave

Monopoly Representation Justification

Official Time = Union Security Clause.

Taxpayer-Funded Lobbying?

Reform Proposals

What You Can Do To Stop Organizational Leave

Which Employee Organizations May Use Fairfax County Paid Leave?

Ten Current Fairfax County Government Employee Organizations

Current FCPS (15) Certified Employee Organizations

Fairfax County Government (FCG) Paid Organizational Leave Policy

Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS)

2016 FCPS Budget Line Item: Substitutes Costs to Cover Organizational Leaves

FCPS Regulation 4530 Employee Organization Privileges

More Freeloading Unions in Arlington, Harrisonburg,  and Lynchburg

Official Time Used to Battle Right To Work In Missouri, Kentucky?



Widespread Taxpayer Abuse from Freeloading Labor Union Bosses

Legality of Organizational Leave Questionable

Illegal Act to Bargain and Create Organizational Privileges

The Virginia Fraud Against Taxpayers Act


“Most of the energy of political work is devoted to correcting the effects of mismanagement of government.”[1] 

― Milton Friedman

Executive Summary

Fairfax County spends millions paying salary and benefits to allow government employees to work exclusively for labor unions.

A scheme creating government paid no-show jobs is something you might expect to see in an episode of the Sopranos, not in suburban Fairfax County, Virginia.  In the Sopranos’ clip to the left, the mob guys are sitting around taking care of their rackets enterprises while being paid illegitimate wages and benefits by the corrupted construction company owner.  In much the same way, union officials use so-called “official time” to take care of union business while receiving wages and benefits from County coffers.

U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch has likened this civil-servant-turned-union-activist scheme to taxpayer-funded featherbedding.  Today, this union featherbedding contrivance is costing Virginia taxpayers millions of dollars every year.

In the Federal government, the scheme is euphemistically called “official time” though no official government business occurs.  The Fairfax County Government (FCG) and Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) refer to this paid leave as “Organizational Leave” and typically record most this type of leave in the broad Administrative Leave category.

For example over a three-year period, taxpayers paid an estimated 132,529 hours for substitute teachers while FCPS public school teachers were taking paid leave to participate exclusively in labor union business.

According to the 2016 Approved Fairfax County Public Schools Budget[2], the school board approved spending $5.8 million[3] pay for an estimated 132,559 hours combined (substitute teachers and teachers on paid union leave) so that school employees could:

  • Attend local, state, regional, or national labor union meetings or other union activities
  • Meet with representatives of FCPS (“Employer”) concerning personnel policies, practices, or other general conditions of employment
  • Lobby the school board members
  • Prepare for any of the meetings or activities listed above

Think about it.  Rather than spending $5.8 million from the school budget to subsidize NEA, AFT, and SEIU unions, the school board could have bought 12,108 iPads or 580,000 books for county students.  What better uses for the $5.8 million come to your mind?

Since at least 1986, the County’s public schools have granted labor unions special “Employee Organization Privileges” to pay FCPS employees while they are working for their union.  The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors created a similar Organizational Leave and the slight program differences illustrated later in this report.

This political kickback scheme might be expected in a compulsory unionism state like Maryland (where numerous such schemes exist) or in a Right to Work system with mandatory bargaining like the federal government.

However, Right To Work Virginia prohibits public sector bargaining by statute.[4]

  • 40.1-57.2. Prohibition against collective bargaining.[5]

No state, county, municipal, or like governmental officer, agent or governing body is vested with or possesses any authority to recognize any labor union or other employee association as a bargaining agent of any public officers or employees, or to collectively bargain or enter into any collective bargaining contract with any such union or association or its agents with respect to any matter relating to them or their employment or service.

Interestingly, one primary reason for the restriction on public sector bargaining was to prevent unscrupulous politicians from creating these types of political paybacks.

Non-political benefits are hard to find, but the negative consequences of using County payrolls to pay labor union personnel necessitates additional hiring personnel, administrative costs, creates employee resentment, and causes disruptions in services (e.g., schools must hire substitute teachers).  The obvious benefits for labor union bosses of this multi-million dollar Big Labor subsidy include payroll guarantees allowing labor unions to divert millions of dollars to their political friends’ elections, rather than spending the resources on otherwise obligatory union personnel costs to provide union member services.

Employee Organizational Leave policies siphon off millions of dollars’ worth of government resources and subsidize private political entities (Service Employee International Union (SEIU), American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees union (AFSCME), National Education Association union (NEA), etc.).

In essence, these Fairfax County Boards hire labor unions as vendors:

  • To provide grievance representation for a member-only class of government employees,
  • To provide government employees training as labor union operatives; to provide government employees union political training;
  • To provide government employees as public policy consultants, and
  • To provide government employees to lobby these Boards and other State government officials.

Unlike the school system, the County provides specific limitations on Organizational Leave, such as a 240-hour limitation per union regarding certain union activities.  However, with lax accounting for Organizational Leave, combined with the unlimited allocation of leave for grievances activities, the Organizational Leave restraint is illusionary.

With no obvious benefit for students or county government operations, and yet with obvious political benefits for elected officials and financial benefits for politically influential labor unions receiving millions of dollars in non-competitive payments for union services – this is a political problem that can only be stopped politically.  It is time to demand politicians take a stand against this government waste and cronyism.

Public exposure and outrage about these political paybacks strategies are needed to motivate school board members and County Supervisors to bring about an end to “Employee Organization Privileges” in Fairfax.

To borrow a teacher union mantra, what about the children? What are these schemes teaching students about politically connected labor union bosses, taxpayers, and politicians?  Is this wealth transfer out of the school budget to labor unions really worth the lesson?

The 20-year lesson the County has been teaching is that political connections are more important in Virginia than taxpayers or students.  It is time for a new lesson, one of redemption and about citizens taking back control of their government.


Official Time appears to have arrived in Fairfax County during the 1986-summer break when FCPS Board members generously voted to give labor union officials special “Employee Organization Privileges.” [6]

In Policy 4530.23 ( right), FCPS School Board members seem to explain that there could not be “a positive relationship with employee organizations” without these privileges and Fairfax employee organizations will not be “beneficial forces in the school system” unless they are subsidized and given special privileges unavailable to any other organizations:

In keeping with the School Board’s desire to maintain a positive relationship with employee organizations and a belief that such organizations can be beneficial forces in the school system, the following privileges shall be available to certified employee organizations.

Employee Organization Leave

Now seems like a good point to delve into the “Employee Organization Leave” provision.  The leave is often referred to as “Official Time” in Federal government contracts.[7]   Organizational Leave occurs when Fairfax County allows government employees paid leave specifically to work for a private employer, a labor union or other authorized employee association.

Mallory Factor, author of Shadowbosses: Government Unions Control America and Rob Taxpayers Blind, describes Federal official time as follows[8]:

Imagine thousands of government employees reporting to work each morning at their government offices and then doing no government work. They use government workspace, government telephones and government computers, all while working on projects unknown and unidentified to their government employers. They receive hefty taxpayer-funded salaries, promotions, bonuses and benefits, plus generous government pensions when they retire—[while not working] on behalf of the taxpayer.

Instead, they work as paid political operatives for powerful government unions.

Welcome to the common practice of “official time.” Sometimes called “release time,” it’s a mechanism by which the government pays union officials to work on union matters during their government workdays. This mechanism—enshrined in law and contracts—is an enormous subsidy to public-employee unions, who fiercely defend it.

The Office of Personnel Management reports that federal employees spent over three million hours on official time in 2010, costing the taxpayers about $137 million in salary and benefits costs.

FedSmith.com author Bob Dietrich[9], who spent 37 years in federal human resources and resources management, suggests all “official time” or Organizational Leave is understated:

Bob Gilson’s article on February 20, 2013, Interesting Twists in OPM’s Official Time Report opined that the above total hours of official time is understated.  This author agrees with him … When it comes to official time, management adopts a very laissez-faire approach to enforcing contract provisions on its use because, like electricity, human behavior will always take the path of least resistance.  Trying to enforce contract provisions on official time will always invoke a struggle with the union, and management would rather have labor peace by surrender.

Based on the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (VFOIA) documents received regarding Fairfax County’s Organizational Leave reporting and from a confidential conversation with a County supervisor, Dietrich’s assessment is accurate.  VFOIA documents indicate lackadaisical reporting of Organizational Leave and non-existent auditing prevents accurate assessment of costs. The Board’s proclaimed “desire to maintain a positive relationship” with labor union bosses reflects Dietrich’s assertion that government managers “take the path of least resistance.”

Monopoly Representation Justification

Beyond the Board’s stated desire to pay off labor unions to maintain labor peace, are there any reasons, beyond bribes, for the creation of official time?  A primary justification provided by labor union officials has been the costs collective bargaining and the cost of monopoly-bargaining representation for nonmembers. In Kenneth Bullock’s thesis, Official Time as a Form of Union Security in Federal Sector Labor-Management Relations, he provides a thorough review of the history of official time.  He gives the most weight to arguments based on the collective bargaining model with negotiated requirements to represent every employee in a bargaining unit regardless of membership.

Bullock’s thesis discusses exclusive representation and the fall of Big Labor’s heyday after the demise of closed shops.  The arrival of so-called “fair share fees” and Right To Work continued to undermine labor unions patronage structure and political operations.

With legal cases like Abood v. Detroit Board of Education preventing mandatory 100% dues payments and Right To Work protections expanding the number of “union-represented employees” who could no longer be forced to pay union fees just to keep their job, the old labor model became unfeasible.

Abood v. Detroit Board of Education[10]

A six-member majority of the Court rejected arguments that requiring public employees to pay agency fees to keep their jobs violates the First Amendment. The Court ruled that the agency shop is constitutionally valid, but only “insofar as the service charges are applied to collective-bargaining, contract administration, and grievance-adjustment purposes.” The Court unanimously agreed, “a union cannot constitutionally spend [objectors’] funds for the expression of political views, on behalf of political candidates, or toward the advancement of other ideological causes not germane to its duties as collective-bargaining representative.”

Restoration of individual rights forces labor unions bosses to look for new ways to transfer the cost of labor union operations onto employers.  Thus, “official time” expansion became a priority for labor union bosses. After all, personnel costs are a service organization’s greatest expense and transferring these costs to the government forces Virginia taxpayers to cover labor unions’ hefty personnel costs.

Official Time = Union Security Clause

Bullock refers to “Official Time” as a union “security clause.”  Security clauses are commonly the first item union negotiators try to get included in a contract, because the clauses force all employees to pay union fees regardless of membership or be fired by the employer.

Union Security Clause[11]

collective bargaining agreement clause used to ensure that employees are excluded from a bargaining unit if they either:

  • Do not support the union.
  • Do not wish to pay union dues associated with union membership.
  • Do not want to pay fees associated with a union representing the employees’ bargaining unit.

Historically, the three most common union security clauses included Closed shop clauses, Union shop clauses, and Agency shop clauses.

In Right To Work states, such security clauses are illegal. However, the Organizational Leave payments here force County taxpayers to guarantee that union officials’ time will be paid regardless of membership numbers.  Consequently, Organizational Leave privileges provide each union significant levels of unearned financial security

If monopoly bargaining burdened labor unions in non-Right To Work states, union negotiators could bargain for union-member-only contracts and eliminate costs arising from mandatory representation.  Non-member representational costs would become zero. However, billion-dollar payments union officials receive nationwide from Official Time make it unlikely Big Labor will seek member-only bargaining soon.

Which brings us back to the oddity of Fairfax County paying for union time since member-only representation is the only form of representation Virginia governments can allow because public sector monopoly/collective bargaining is illegal.  Regardless, Fairfax County Boards continue to subsidize a few select private employee clubs while excluding most government employees from this County paid-for service.

Taxpayer-Funded Lobbying?

Absurdly, an acceptable reason union officials receive taxpayer-paid leave is to prepare for and to lobby county officials.  Imagine your employer paying you to take time off and lobby the Board of Supervisors or the School Board.  Do you think you could find the time to get active in local government?  You betcha you could!

If the County boards financially reward labor unions for lobbying, do you think these unions’ officials will find numerous opportunities to propose an endless stream of suggested County projects to fulfill their political agendas?

Worse, union officials are not only paid by the Board to lobby them; board members give these county-paid lobbyists preferential treatment in public meetings and privileged access through numerous private meetings.  FCPS’ conditions for Organizational Leave state it may be granted for “[m]eetings with representatives of FCPS (“Employer”) concerning personnel policies, practices, or other general conditions of employment, including, but not limited to, regularly scheduled meet and confer sessions with the Office of Human Resources… [and] to prepare for [these] meetings.”[12]

A succinct way to describe meetings with government officials to discuss proposed policies is:  lobbying.

Fairfax County regulations not only permit paid lobbying under Organizational Leave, but the County memo also describes these privileges as labor unions’ “rights.”

Attached please find newly issued Procedural Memo No.11-03 that summarizes the rights and responsibilities of employee organizations in Fairfax County. The intent of this procedural memo is to define the rights and responsibilities of officers and representatives of employee groups in Fairfax County.

Of particular note is the delineation of employee group activities conducted during work hours where the use of administrative leave is authorized.  Below is a summary of those activities:

Participation in county related employee group activities such as attendance at monthly employee group meetings, meetings with the Board of Supervisors (individually or at the regular Board meetings to include committee meetings), participation on committees or task forces established to review employee-related issues[13].  …[Emphasis added]

Fact: these paid-leave tactics grant labor union bosses special taxpayer-paid private rights of access to County officials that the Board does not provide for any other county citizens or groups.

Reform Proposals

The first thing that can be done to end this practice of Organizational Leave is to have the County Board of Supervisors and the Fairfax County Public Schools Board vote to eliminate Organizational Leave effective immediately upon passage of the rescission motions.

To prove that the reform proposals are serious, any new law should include criminal and civil penalties to anyone authorizing or using paid leave for Organizational Leave.

“No public employer shall pay any public employee for any time in a duty status to serve in an employee organization, professional association, labor union or labor organization, or to pay for time away from official duty to attend conventions, conferences or training provided by any employee association, labor union, labor organization or to investigate any grievance or improper act on behalf of or in a representative capacity for any other public employee.”

“Any violation of any of the provisions of this article by any person, firm, association, corporation, or labor union or organization shall be a Class E felony.”[14]

What You Can Do To Stop Organizational Leave

On the Center on National Labor Policy’s (CNLP) website (NationalLaborPolicy.org), you may contact CNLP for information regarding your state and local government labor policies.  CNLP staff will help you formulate FOIA inquiries and assist in analyzing your FOIA data.

Also, if you are a government employee who has to cover the workload for other government workers taking official time leave, or you have information about an Official Time scheme, CNLP would like you to visit its webpage and provide confidential tips about official time use.

Besides investigating the use of Official Time in local jurisdictions, ask candidates for state office if they will vote to outlaw Official Time.  Record their answers with your phone and we can post them.  Let as many people as you can know what your representative plans to do about these political kickbacks.  Also, please use the CNLP confidential tip line to update us on your elected officials and candidates.

Virginia elected officials can end this taxpayer-funded union activism within a year.  Since Virginia outlaws collective bargaining, it should eliminate obfuscating arguments about “breaking” union monopoly-bargaining contracts that might delay legislative votes on ending Organizational Leave policies.

It is time to terminate another taxpayer-financed special privilege subsidizing Big Labor’s political machine.

Which Employee Organizations May Use Fairfax County Paid Leave?

Ten Current Fairfax County Government Employee Organizations

SEIU Virginia Local 512 is both the Fairfax County Government Employees Union (FCGEU) and Fairfax Deputy Sheriff’s Coalition.  Does this mean that SEIU may receive double Organizational Leave allotments?  At the time of the writing of this report, the answer is unknown.

Current FCPS (15) Certified Employee Organizations[15] (10/01/2015)

Fairfax County Government (FCG) Paid Organizational Leave Policy

Over a period of several months, the CNLP filed multiple Virginia Freedom of Information Act requests with the Fairfax County Department of Human Resources (DHR) for details and policies related to paid leave to participate in labor union activities.

Received VFOIA documents confirmed that the Fairfax County Government grants labor unions the “right” to be paid by taxpayers for lobbying Board of Supervisors “individually or at the regular Board meetings.”[16]

Documents indicate that taxpayers pay the primary costs (i.e., personnel costs) for SEIU and other certified “employee organizations” to exclusively “represent” their County employee members.  Unionists commonly claim that the primary purpose of a labor union is to “represent employees” regarding grievances, pay, and working conditions.[17]   Under the FCG’s negotiated policy, County taxpayers – not the union’s membership – pay the union’s primary representational costs![18]

Below is the official language authorizing unlimited county pay for labor union payroll taxes, wages, and benefits for union officials as they exclusively work on behalf of their union’s interest:

Of particular note is the delineation of employee group activities conducted during work hours where the use of administrative leave is authorized…

Time spent assisting a member with a grievance when designated as the employee’s official representative (this time is not included in the allotments above and is on as needed basis).  (coded as administrative leave, subobject code 116, with no job number included)[19]

How much money is being diverted from government services to cover union payroll overhead and activities?  The answer: Fairfax County cannot determine it.  The County’s response to a CNLP VFOIA request for specific payroll costs associated with the County Organizational Leave was:[20]

In response to your Virginia FOIA request, we do not have much information to share as we do not track the level of detail you have requested. Agencies are responsible for tracking time and attendance of their employees and as PM 11-03 states the 240 hour annual allotments will be monitored by the employee organization.

Fairfax County provided “Gross Admin Leave for S/O 172: 172 is ‘Admin Leave Emp Org Activities’” from a “legacy” system.  Based on the few reported hours provided by DHR during the fiscal years 2011 and 2012, [21] taxpayers paid about $308,065.16 for labor union officials to lobby the Fairfax County Board and others.

In addition, VFOIA documents reveal that Fairfax County failed to monitor this taxpayer-paid lobbying activity. Virginia taxpayers are paying labor union officials to train for member recruitment and political activism.[22]

Of particular note is the delineation of employee group activities conducted during work hours where the use of administrative leave is authorized…  Attendance at conventions, conferences or training related to employee relations.  Each [of the 10 organizations] is allotted 240 hours per year for this purpose. (coded as administrative leave, subject code with no job number included) …

The 240-hour annual allotments will be monitored by the employee organization with periodic audits by DHR.[23]

Interestingly, nowhere in the FCG or FCPS Organizational Leave regulations are there restrictions requiring that the union activities be specifically for Fairfax County related activities or benefit.

In other words, Fairfax County taxes pay SEIU officials to lobby the Fairfax County Boards and organize its employees; taxpayers may pay for SEIU officials’ wages and benefits to organizing Loudoun County government employees, or lobby Loudoun Boards or other elected officials statewide.  Because SEIU Virginia 512 has Loudoun County members and promotes itself as a statewide union, Fairfax County taxpayers are probably subsidizing the union’s expansion across the state.[24]

The Loudoun (SEIU 512) chapter is an active group of more than 140 Loudoun County general employees. Many of these members work with adults with disabilities and are joined by librarians, juvenile justice workers and more. They began organizing for a voice at work in 2010 and are building their union to make positive change in their communities.

Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS)

Compared to FCG disclosure, Fairfax County Public Schools provide a wealth of online information regarding its budget.  However, FCPS provides little information in its budget that tracks actual costs of labor union subsidies via FCPS payrolls expenditures.

FCPS spends an approximated average of $2 million per year to hire substitutes and give labor union officials paid leave to lobby, attend union conventions, union conferences, union training, and other exclusive union functions.

2016 FCPS Budget Line Item: Substitutes Costs to Cover Organizational Leaves[25]

Based on the 2012-2014 information provided in the 2016 Approved FCPS Budget regarding Organizational Leave, it cost taxpayers $5.8 million to hire substitutes and pay teacher salaries and benefits.   (The estimate assumes substitute pay is $15/hour and uses average middle school teacher pay for those hours worked by the substitutes).

However, this method of Organizational Leave cost analysis only allows an estimate of Organizational Leave costs when the substitute teachers hired reported for duty on this basis.  Often, if not in substantially larger occurrences, FCPS need not hire a substitute teacher to cover the absent school employee.  In addition, as with FCG Organizational Leave policy, FCPS allows Administrative Leave usage for Organizational Leaves.  These practices by the FCPS and FCG have made it impossible to determine the extent of Organizational Leave grants provided to labor unions.

FCPS Regulation 4530 Employee Organization Privileges[26]

FCPS describes this regulation as “privileges” awarded to politically active labor unions.  This section of the regulation does not mention the most valuable privilege of all – paid Organizational Leave.

Regulation 4530 Human Resources Employee Performance and Development Effective 11-7-13

HUMAN RESOURCES Employee Organizations Employee Organization Privileges

  1. PURPOSE To establish guidelines regarding privileges afforded to certified employee organizations.
    1. Membership Payroll Dues Deduction
    2. Distribution of Materials
    3. School and Work Location Visits
    4. Meetings in FCPS Facilities
    5. Elections and Referendums

Employee Organizations Employee Organization Privilege—Leave[27]

In a recently revised FCPS regulation that directly addresses  Organizational Leave, FCPS provides paid leave for:

  • “Attending local, state, regional, or national employee organization meetings or activities related to performing the representational duties of the employee organizations…”
  • “Meetings with representatives of FCPS (“Employer”) concerning personnel policies, practices, or other general conditions of employment, including, but not limited to, regularly scheduled meet and confer sessions with the Office of Human Resources.”
  • “To prepare for meetings established in” the preceding two bullet points.
  • If Organizational Leave is denied, the union may file a grievance to appeal the denial (and take Organizational Leave to prepare and process the grievance).
  • Employees taking Organizational Leave will have administrative leave used as the coded reason for the absence.

Additional available employee organization related regulations are available on FCPS Online.[28]

More Freeloading Unions in Arlington, Harrisonburg,  and Lynchburg

Fairfax County is not the only Virginia governmental entity providing paid leave for union activities for its employees.  It is a statewide problem that can be efficiently eliminated by state law, rather by than trying to require each school board, county board, city council, the board of regents, etc. to vote to end the controversial scheme.

In Lynchburg public schools: “Special leave is absence from duty allowable to full-time employees with approval of the superintendent for the performance of professional or civic duties…  Absence from duty without loss of pay or benefits is allowable… to serve as delegates or officers for professional organizations.[29]

Harrisonburg schools allow, “A cumulative total of four (4) days of professional leave may be granted for Harrisonburg Education Association members to attend the annual state VEA convention.”[30]

Arlington County public schools offer paid Organizational Leave.[31]  Arlington even allows the labor unions to represent any government employee, not just members.  “An employee organization shall be recognized by the County and shall have the right to represent any employees for the purpose of hearing and discussing conditions of employment. Such employee organization may be required to provide written authorization for the individual employees they represent.”[32]

Official Time Used to Battle Right To Work In Missouri, Kentucky?


Some of the political activity performed by these teachers was protesting and lobbying against right-to-work legislation. Yes, Missouri tax dollars are going toward lobbying against RTW, which would increase worker freedom and bring economic benefits to the state.

As explained in the report,  A Remedy for Taxpayer Giveaway to Unions: Time to Enforce Missouri Constitution’s Bar on Gifts to Private Parties, union release time activities include: preparing and filing grievances, engaging in political activity, attending internal union meetings, union conferences, and negotiating contracts.[34]


Kentucky, like Missouri, is a compulsory-unionism state and is close to becoming a Right To Work state.  However, in a state where employees are forced to pay for representational activities, Kentucky local governments still provide official time Big Labor kickbacks.

Section K Association President and Vice-President Leave[35]  The Employer shall upon request grant a full-time leave to the President of the Jefferson County Teachers Association for the school year(s) for which the President is elected, without the loss of salary, step increment, or Employer paid fringe benefits.

Union Leave[36] The Teamster Union shall be entitled to designate individual employees to be granted unpaid leave in an aggregate amount not exceeding twenty-five (25) days per year to be taken in full days for the conduct of necessary Union business, such designation to be made in writing by the Union to the Jefferson County Superintendent/designee normally at least ten (10) days in advance of the leave usage. Five (5) days shall be the maximum Union leave per employee per year. The employee taking the Union leave shall inform the supervisor at least five (5) days in advance of the leave usage. The Union shall reimburse the Employer for the salaries of employees on Union leave.

Union Leave[37] The Union shall be entitled to designate individual/s employees to be granted unpaid leave in an aggregate amount not exceeding 150 days per year to be taken in full days for the conduct of necessary Union business, such designation to be made in writing to the Superintendent/designee normally at least 5 days in advance of  the leave usage. The Union will reimburse the Employer for the cost of any substitute employee for these leave days, should one be provided. The parties agree that Union leave will not be granted during the first five (5) days just before the school term, the first five (5) days of the school term or the last ten (10) days of the school term, or in the case of school-based employees, during standardized testing such as state/federal tests.

Widespread Taxpayer Abuse from Freeloading Labor Union Bosses

It is not surprising that compulsory-unionism states like Maryland,[38] & [39] and California provide taxpayer-paid union activities in the form of organizational or association leave.

On the other hand, Virginia is not the only Right To Work state where politicians have awarded these types of taxpayer-funded kickbacks to Big Labor Bosses.  These forms of Big Labor kickbacks gobble up millions of dollars from taxpayers in Oklahoma[40], Tennessee, [41] Texas, [42] and Nevada.

In Las Vegas, Nevada, a local police officer union is suing to force taxpayers to continue paying for government employees participating in union activities.

Plaintiffs are suffering or are threatened with irreparable harms from the reduction in their advocacy for and communications with their members and prospective members, as without paid leave the unions’ officers…have less money to spend on their other advocacy and associational activities, and thus have to curtail such activities.

In this audacious complaint, union officials admit that government-paid union leave, like Fairfax County’s Organizational Leave policies, subsidizes labor union political and lobbying activities.

The Nevada labor union’s complaint provides more proof that taxpayer paid leave is subsidizing Big Labor’s political operations.

In the court documents, Las Vegas union bosses admit that

  1. Without taxpayer-funded union activity, the union will have “less money to spend on their other advocacy and associational activities, and thus have to curtail such activities” as electioneering and lobbying.
  2. Apparently, no tracking of this payroll subsidy exists in Las Vegas because the union appears incapable of determining how much money taxpayers spend subsidizing them. Their complaint states that calculating the amounts of lost revenue “would be extraordinarily difficult,” and “the amounts … would be inordinately burdensome to calculate.”  “Plaintiffs are also threatened with economic damages … Such damages will also be also be continuing in nature which would require a multiplicity of damages actions to address, and the amounts of such damages would be inordinately burdensome to calculate.”
  3. There is little reason for taxpayers to spend millions providing these paid leave grants. However, the union lists numerous reasons taxpayers should have to keep paying for its activities:
    1. “Need paid leave in order to engage in speech and association in the forms of advocating for members before government officials [i.e., lobbying]…”
    2. “Having plaintiffs handle benefit administration functions that for many other employers are handled by the employer itself or an outside trust; “
    3. “Having union officials be more familiar with the employer’s current conditions than someone hired from the outside,”
    4. “Allowing an agency and its employee representatives to conduct the meetings required by their relationship during the normal workday …”
    5. “Allowing meetings to occur immediately after a problem occurs …”
    6. “Employee organizations serve the valuable public purposes of reducing government problems in recruitment and retention of public employees and morale problems …”
    7. “No compelling state interest exists to ban local governments from granting paid leave for government employee union activities.”

These union bosses have been slurping down dollars from the public trough for so long, that they shamelessly argue the Legislature has “no compelling state interest” to control how state taxes are spent!  It is impossible to read this complaint’s lack of coherent reasons to provide these grants, and not conclude that the only reason for Organizational Leave is to finance political favors allied with taxpayer funds.

Taxpayers should not be forced to prop up labor unions so that they can afford to prop up select elected officials.

Legality of Organizational Leave Questionable

Illegal Act to Bargain and Create Organizational Privileges

Virginia’s statute appears to outlaw Organizational Leave policies because the Leave memo and policies are de facto agreements to collectively bargain.

No state, county, municipal, or like governmental officer, agent or governing body is vested with or possesses any authority to recognize any labor union or other employee association as a bargaining agent of any public officers or employees, or to collectively bargain or enter into any collective bargaining contract with any such union or association or its agents with respect to any matter relating to them or their employment or service.

In the Labor and Employment Code of Virginia,[43] “bargaining agent” is used three times and in each instance as part of the phrase “collective bargaining agent.”  The prohibition on government officials bars regarding union related agreement is total; they cannot recognize a union as a bargaining agent of any group of employees, cannot bargain with a union about any employment matter, and cannot enter into any contract with a union.  The Virginia legislature intended the word “bargain” and “bargaining” in its normal sense.  Merriam-Webster[44] defines the word “bargain” as “an agreement in which people or groups say they will do or give something in exchange for something else” and “bargaining” as including “what course of action or policy each pursues in respect to the other.”

Since Virginia expressly prohibits recognizing “any labor union or other employee association,” the recognition by FCPS and the FCG of “Certified Organizations” granting special privileges to allow union officials to act as “agents with respect to matters relating to [County employees] or their employment or [their] service” achieves what the Virginia Code is expressly prohibits.

Fairfax County Boards have:

  1. Recognized by Certification several labor unions and employee organizations.
  1. Recognized several labor unions and employee organizations by written memo and public policy created County taxpayer obligations to the unions and employee organizations.
  1. Included in these memos and policies substantial consideration in the form of paid leave.
  1. Given these labor unions and employee organizations authorization to act on matters related to their organization and matters related their member employees relating to their employment of service.

How can this occur?  The problem is Virginia’s “Article 2.1. Collective Bargaining for Governmental Employees” provides no penalties for ignoring the law, which has allowed government officials and union bosses to ignore the bargaining prohibition.

The Virginia Fraud Against Taxpayers Act

8.01-216.3 of the Virginia Code provides a penalty for false claims[45] made to any level of state government by,

  1. Any person who:
  2. Knowingly presents, or causes to be presented, to an officer or employee of the Commonwealth a false or fraudulent claim for payment or approval;
  3. Knowingly makes, uses, or causes to be made or used, a false record or statement to get a false or fraudulent claim paid or approved by the Commonwealth;
  4. Conspires to defraud the Commonwealth by getting a false or fraudulent claim allowed or paid

Obtaining financial benefits from state employees to lobby, meet, and propose legislative and policy changes, violate this ethical boundary.


The Fairfax County School Board “bargained” to have taxpayers fund union activity, they even agreed to allow union officials to file grievances whenever Organizational Leave is denied.

Think about this special union benefit for a moment.  The school system automatically grants union officials paid leave to handle grievances.  If a school administrator should deny a union official Organizational Leave, then the union official could automatically take Organizational Leave to prepare for and grieve the denial of the Organizational Leave.

It is a ludicrous arrangement and a corrupted situation created by the FCPS Board.  By establishing this payroll scheme, the School, and County Boards provide labor unions with essentially a security clause guaranteeing the viability these private voluntary membership organizations.

Having Virginia taxpayers pay the operating costs of labor unions is outrageous.  The Las Vegas union’s complaint highlights the fallacy of forcing taxpayers to pay for labor union activities.  It is clear who benefits from these arrangements, labor unions and the politicians they help elect.  Organizational Leave, a political payback scheme, must cease immediately.

Taxpayer outrage could force an end to this practice in Virginia as early as the end of February 2016.

The FCPS Board and the Board of Supervisors could end Organizational Leave giveaways even sooner if the ones who benefit from the scheme were not there voting to keep it alive.  An Opinion Letter by the by the Virginia Attorney General or even a local Commonwealth Attorney could quickly end this taxpayer fraud.

If Official Time were abolished in every state, as much as billion dollars in taxes would be saved, and unions would have to come up with the funds to provide their union’s own services.  Without these restrictions, and the tens of thousands of taxpayer paid Big Labor political activists, Right To Work might pass in states like Missouri, Maine, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, and Kentucky.

If Organizational Leave ended, labor unions officials would cut the unnecessary absences from work they take now because it is free.  It will be interesting to compare how many Organizational Leave hours are used after the program is eliminated compared to the current number of hours used when taxpayers were paying for the hours.

We may never know because there is no system tracking all the hours. As this report prepares for publishing, we received word that during the most recent audit committee meeting, Fairfax County Supervisor Pat Herrity attempted to have the Organizational Leave procedures and controls reviewed.  But, Democrat Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova (At-Large) and John W. Foust (Dranesville) prevented the Organizational Leave review from being added to the audit work program.  SEIU and the local teachers unions, which greatly benefit from the Organizational Leave grants, have endorsed both supervisors Bulova and Foust in the past.

If you want to end this taxpayer financed Big Labor political action, you can help make it happen, and CNLP has set a taskforce to help you.

On the CNLP website NationalLaborPolicy.org, these following links are available:

  • Confidential Tip FormIf you have personal knowledge of Official Time or Organizational Leave currently being used in your workplace, please leave CNLP a detailed message. Your identity is kept confidential.
  • Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) HelpCNLP staff will provide help with your FOIA requests, help with FOIA document analysis, and publicizing your FOIA reports.
  • Commonwealth Employees Association (CEA)CNLP is helping organize employees who want to establish an Employee Organization to work with Virginia public sector employees who wish to file grievances due to:
    • having additional workloads,
    • having disproportionate leaves,
    • having inappropriate compensation,
    • having been passed over for promotions,
    • having been denied choice assignments, and
    • suffering other negative consequences

… Because other employees in their workplace who take Organizational Leave are receiving preferential treatment.

It is up to you now.  If you live in Virginia, every state representative and senator should be contacted and asked if they will vote on legislation to end this scheme by February 2016.  Members of local school boards, county boards, and city councils must be forced to vote on ending these programs.

Take action now: Virginia residents can use this link to call your Virginia State Senator and Representative.  Ask them where they stand.


—– END —–

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[2] Fairfax County Public Schools, “FY 2016 Approved Budget,” page 410 http://bit.ly/1Mtpgnv (7/1/2015)

[3] Estimate extrapolation based on FCPS FY2015 Approved Budget amounts for Organizational Leave substitute 2012-2014 costs.  Substitute expense used $15/hour, avg. full time teacher costs based on avg. middle school teacher salary $68,710, 180 days, 8 hours/day, and benefit rate of 52% provided by Fairfax County official.

[4] Commonwealth of Virginia, Code of Virginia, “§ 40.1-57.2. Prohibition against collective bargaining.,”  http://1.usa.gov/1hInxSJ (10/16/2015)

[5] 40.1-57.2 Prohibition against collective bargaining – Justia Law, http://law.justia.com/codes/virginia/2011/title40-1/chapter4/40-1-57-2/ (accessed October 17, 2015).

[6] HUMAN RESOURCES 2 I. PURPOSE, https://www.boarddocs.com/vsba/fairfax/Board.nsf/files/9DCQT6666476/$file/P4530.  (accessed October 17, 2015).

[7] “Section 7131 of title 5, United States Code, defines and authorizes official time for unions representing Federal employees.  Official time, broadly defined, is paid time off from assigned Government duties to represent a union or its bargaining unit employees.” (Report) https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/labor-management-relations/reports-on-official-time/#url=Overview (accessed October 17, 2015).

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[12] Fairfax County Public Schools, “Regulation 4537.5: Employee Organization Privilege—Leave,”  http://www.boarddocs.com/vsba/fairfax/Board.nsf/files/9K5VXW64739B/$file/R4537.pdf (May 15, 2014)

[13] Procedural Memorandum No. 11-03 – Employee Organization Rights and Responsibilities” – Fairfax County, Virginia, http://bit.ly/1GhtdyG (November 23, 2010).

[14] 40.1-69. Violation a misdemeanor, http://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/title40.1/chapter4/section40.1-69/ (accessed October 17, 2015).

[15] Fairfax County Public Schools, “Current Certified Organizations,”  http://bit.ly/1hInEO3 (3/14/2012)

[16] Procedural Memorandum No. 11-03 – Employee Organization Rights and Responsibilities” – Fairfax County, Virginia, http://bit.ly/1GhtdyG (November 23, 2010).

[17] Herbert B. Asher and Eric S. Heberlig, “American Labor Unions in the Electoral Arena”  http://bit.ly/1hgUV2G “Unions exist to represent their members before management on workplace issues, members mostly join for this reason.” Page 47 (March 15, 2001)

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[19] IBID.

[20] Spage, Catherine M., “draft response to FOIA Request” – Fairfax County, Virginia, http://bit.ly/1PwKlTd (June 19, 2015).

[21] http://bit.ly/1NfIoYQ

[22] http://bit.ly/1PlBZ1D “Under John Sweeney, who served as SEIU’s president from 1980-1995, the union initiated the use of “Muscle for Money” (MfM), an Alinsky strategy featuring highly aggressive, organized efforts not only to discredit and intimidate opponents, but also to pressure business leaders and public officials to support the union’s agendas”

[23]  “Procedural Memorandum No. 11-03 – Employee Organization Rights and Responsibilities” – Fairfax County, Virginia, http://bit.ly/1GhtdyG (November 23, 2010).

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[27] Fairfax County Public Schools, “Employee Organization Privilege—Leave,” http://bit.ly/1QzGsez (5/15/2014)

[28] Fairfax County Public Schools, “Current Certified [Employee]Organizations,” http://bit.ly/1PwKJAZ (October 14, 2015)

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[38] NEGOTIATED AGREEMENT – Frederick County Public Schools, http://www.fcps.org/about/documents/09-10FCTAAgreement.pdf (accessed October 18, 2015).

[39] Trey Kovacs, “Prince Georges County Public Schools – union release time PGCEA Union Leave – 2011-2012,” http://docslide.us/documents/prince-georges-county-public-schools-union-release-time-pgcea-union-leave-2011-2012.html (November 9, 2014)

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[42] A Remedy for the Lone Star State’s Taxpayer Giveaway to .., https://cei.org/content/remedy-lone-star-state%E2%80%99s-taxpayer-giveaway-union (accessed October 18, 2015).

[43] Title 40.1 – LABOR AND EMPLOYMENT- Virginia Law, http://law.lis.virginia.gov/library/cov/Title40.1.pdf (accessed October 18, 2015).

[44] Bargain | Definition of bargain by Merriam-Webster, http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bargain (accessed October 17, 2015).

[45]The False Claims Act (FCA) provides, in pertinent part, that, http://downloads.cms.gov/cmsgov/archived-downloads/SMDL/downloads/SMD032207Att2. (accessed October 17, 2015).