Americans are paying the salaries of over 200 Internal Revenue Service (IRS) employees not to process tax returns or to assist confused taxpayers but to perform labor-union tasks, and two congressional Republicans are trying to pry the details of this legal-but-shady arrangement out of the agency.
Last month, in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, Americans for Limited Government (ALG) obtained documents from the IRS showing that the agency has on its payroll 201 employees who, while they have job titles indicating that they do IRS work, actually spend all their time on the job taking care of union business. (The IRS has other employees who do union work only part of the time, but ALG did not inquire about them.)
“A lot of people are not aware that under federal law, a federal agency is allowed to enter into a collective bargaining agreement with a union that has provisions where employees of the agency, in this case the IRS, are allowed to do union work on the taxpayer’s time and get paid for it,” ALG president Nathan Mehrens told the Daily Caller.
The practice, known as “official time,” was added to the U.S. Code as part of the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 — not coincidentally, a year in which Democrats controlled both houses of Congress and the presidency.
“Official time is seen by supporters as compensation for the fact that unions are required to handle labor issues related to all employees, not just union members,” Fox News explained in 2011. “When union officials negotiate with federal managers over work rules, like appropriate attire and other human resource requirements, those functions are carried out under official time.”
Opponents, however, consider official time to be an affront to taxpayers.
“It is a subsidy to a private entity to do the private entity’s job,” Mehrens told the Daily Caller. “Why should we as taxpayers be paying for this? It is not as if taxpayers are paying to subsidize my organization.”
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