NEW TIME: Veterans’ Affairs and Oversight Subcommittees to Examine Union Activities at VA
On Thursday, February 16, 2017, at 12:30 p.m. the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs’ Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform’s Subcommittee on Government Operations will hold a joint hearing entitled, “The Use of Official Time for Union Activities at the Department of Veterans Affairs.”
The following event is open to the press:
WHO: House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs’ Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform’s Subcommittee on Government Operations
WHEN: 12:30 p.m., Thursday, February 16, 2017
WHERE: 2154 Rayburn House Office Building and streaming here
Background: Official time refers to the time union officials spend working on union business while being paid by the VA. Union members use official time to represent employees, intervene and mitigate any issues with management, conduct certain lobbying activities, as well as other bargaining activities.
VA allocates a certain amount of official time to the unions as part of their collective bargaining agreements at both the national and local levels, and the department is supposed to carefully monitor it to ensure union officials are not exceeding the agreed upon amount of time.
A January 2017 GAO report discovered that VA does not have a standardized system to track how many hours union members spend working on union duties during VA work hours, meaning VA does not have an accurate grasp on how much money is spent on union activity while an employee is on official time.
Although VA has reported that at least 346 employees spent 100% of their work hours at VA conducting union business and VA employees across the department spent over one million hours on official time in fiscal year 2015, GAO believes that this data from VA is likely unreliable due to the inconsistencies in VA’s tracking of official time.
This hearing will discuss the findings of the GAO report, as well as examine how VA uses official time for union activities and how this use relates to the department’s overall mission.