The value of official time

Why should union stewards be allowed to use duty time to represent employees, some elected officials have asked, characterizing the practice as a waste of taxpayer money. But official time benefits our customers--the American people. Here's how:

Management has dedicated resources to deal with workplace and personnel issues. Nobody has suggested cutting their hours or authority as a “waste of time.” Official time—which is only used for the representation of employees, not for internal union matters—brings an important balance to the workplace. Managers hold employees accountable through the performance, conduct, and discipline processes. But unions also help hold agency management accountable: to ensure they are following the rules, that they are not discriminating or retaliating against employees, that they are not committing waste, fraud, and abuse. Furthermore, when workers have a voice in their workplace, they have more engagement and investment. Morale and efficiency increase. We all want a productive, efficient government that can attract and retain the best employees.

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