A lobbying tip sheet provided by the general counsel for the American Federation of Government Employees reveals some eyebrow-raising things VA employees are allowed to do while on “official time.” According to the document, employees:
- Can, if a union official, pursuant to Article 45 of the AFGE-VA master agreement, or as otherwise negotiated or as a matter of past practice, use official time for appropriate lobbying function, including contact Congress.
- Can, if a union official on official time contact Congressmen utilizing government telephones provided to the union pursuant to Article 48 of the AFGE-VA master agreement or as past practice or as otherwise negotiated.
- Can, under Article 48 or based on past practices or as otherwise negotiated, use an agency’s mail delivery, E-mail, inter-office phone or other communication system to advise employees of: The contents of specific legislative proposals; When Congress may mark-up a legislative proposal; When Congress may vote on a certain issue; When AFGE is to testify on a certain legislative issue; AFGE’s position on certain legislative proposals.
Progressives Today previously reported the VA union far-and-away spends the most “official time” of any government union.
In 2011 – the last year the office published such numbers – employees of the VA reported spending 998,483 “official” hours on union business. That is to say, they spent taxpayer-funded work time furthering their union’s objectives instead of serving veterans.
Remarkably, that was a 23.3 percent increase over 2010’s 809,740 hours.