Why Are Taxpayers Paying For Union Workers?


Thirty five federal employees with the U.S. Department of Transportation are being paid tax-funded salaries averaging more than $135,000 annually, but they don’t do work for the public. They work full-time for unions.

That’s just at one federal agency.

The total figure works out to $4.8 million dollars per year of your tax dollars being given to union workers.

We are having a hard time figuring this out and justifying it.

Unions collect dues in order to pay for the costs of running the union itself. So why are taxpayers picking up the tab for these workers? Shouldn’t federal employees do work for the federal government and not self serving union interests?

Incredibly, it gets worse.

Federal law also requires that departments and agencies continue to pay the salaries of career employees who work on “official time” performing union duties.

Official time expenses are tracked government-wide by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. In its most recent report, OPM said the Department of Transportation paid more than $15.4 million in such costs in 2010, compared to $12.5 million in 2009.

The OPM report estimated that government-wide costs for official time exceeded $137 million, an increase of 6.42 percent over the preceding year.

We may not be the brightest bulb in the bunch, but even we can see that with the fiscal cliff looming ahead, eliminating taxpayer subsidy of union workers is something that can – and should – be cut from the federal budget.

5 Responses to “Why Are Taxpayers Paying For Union Workers?”

  1. David Omler says:

    While we are at it why not eliminate the billions in taxpayer subsidies to big oil companies, oh wait, congress needs their campaign contributions.

    • AAfterwit says:

      Mr. Omler,

      Thanks for your comment.

      I believe this is a bit of a misdirection on your part. The “big oil companies” take the tax breaks that are available to all companies. As far as we know, there is but one oil specific break that is seldom used and the oil industry has said it can be done away with.

      Personally, I can see a difference between subsidies that benefit all people vs taxpayers being on the hook for work being done on Federal property which does not benefit even a majority of the American population. That is not to say that I am against ending all subsidies, but if that were to occur, I doubt the taxpayer would see the savings come back into their pockets.

      Finally, while I respect your point of view, I would say that politicians want campaign contributions from unions as well, which is why the ridiculous situation of taxpayers paying for people to do union work exists.

      A. Afterwit.

  2. David Omler says:

    Thanks once again for pointing me in the “right” direction concerning my misguided comments. But, being a former tax preparer and having prepared 1000’s of tax returns both corporate and personal I do understand the difference between using the tax code and its loop holes and a subsidy being paid by the government to a corporation or other entity. The two are distinctly different.

    Wishing you and the staff at Hoecakes a Very Merry Christmas and a Healthy New Year.

    • AAfterwit says:

      Mr. Omler,

      I understand what you are saying. I really do. As I said, if we were to eliminate all subsidies for companies, I don’t think I would have an issue with that. My problem is that when we pick on a specific industry. For example, why not end subsidies for so called “green energy” companies? Farming conglomerates?

      I agree with you that the term “subsidies” and “tax breaks” have become synonymous even though they mean different things. Forbes does a decent job examining the tax breaks / subsidies of the oil companies as does the New York Post. (CNN confuses “subsidies” and “tax breaks” as well.) One group that is against any support to oil companies has a site called “Price for Oil,” and their graphic on subsidies confuses subsidies and tax breaks.

      As I said, I am aware of only one subsidy which is granted to the oil industry specifically. I have no problem with ending that subsidy whatsoever.

      I have to say that I was confused as to why you choose to equate paying union workers with taxpayer dollars for work that only benefits a portion of the population with subsidies / tax breaks that (allegedly) benefit the majority of people. While I won’t challenge your statement of campaign contributions to elected officials, I would say that while the oil industry contributed over $17 million dollars to the campaigns of members of Congress, unions gave more than $34 million in the same election cycle.

      That leads me to wonder “who is in the pocket of who?”

      I have a feeling that this is one of those discussions that if it were held in person as opposed to the over the internet we would have grasped the subtleties of each others positions easier and with more understanding. For that misunderstanding, I apologize.

      Hope you and your family have a great Christmas and a wonderful 2013.


      A. Afterwit.

      • David Omler says:

        Mr. Afterwit,

        I would very much enjoy having that conversation with you in person as well as some others, but your identity remains elusive.

        David Omler