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Kankakee Times|Report: Union employee payment practice costs taxpayers

Taxpayers United of America’s Executive Director, Jared Labell, was quoted by Kankakee Times about unions, pensions, and the CSRA.


A recent report reveals that the legal practice of “official time” — under which government agencies pay staff on a full-time basis to work for a labor union rather than for taxpayers — comes with a hefty price tag.
“Although the record keeping isn’t perfect … the estimates of costs to taxpayers range from roughly $1 billion in the last 20 years at the federal level alone, to numbers approaching $1 billion annually when state and local employees are included in the totals,” Jared Labell, executive director of Chicago-based Taxpayers United of America, recently told the Record.
Labell said the Civil Service Commission instructed government agencies to authorize the practice of official time beginning in 1976. The practice became law in 1978 under the Civil Service Reform Act (CSRA).
He said the fight for transparency is as old as the CSRA itself.
“In recent years, the Bush administration finally required detailed reporting of official time and the activities conducted, but that was just as the administration was preparing to vacate the White House, and the Obama administration’s Office of Personnel Management ceased to report data,” Labell said.
The Americans for Limited Government Foundation produced a summer 2016 report titled “Full-time Official Time: A Special Report Exposing Taxpayer-Funded Union Employees.” The report said that 490 individuals had been disclosed as a result of Freedom of Information Act requests as working full-time for a union using taxpayer dollars.
Specifically, the foundation reported the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the U.S. Department of Transportation is paying 26 full-time official time employees a total of more than $3.6 million, with 24 of those employees earning annual salaries in excess of $100,000.
The foundation reported the U.S. Postal Service disclosed 274 of its employees are on full-time official time status, at a total cost to the agency of $16.5 million; the Department of Agriculture is paying 29 official time employees more than $2.2 million; the Environmental Protection Agency is paying 73 official time employees more than $8 million and the Small Business Administration is paying two official time employees a total of $199,644.
Also, the foundation reported the General Services Administration pays 17 salaried official time employees a total of more than $1.6 million; the Department of Energy pays two official time employees a total of $304,701; the Department of Education pays three official time employees a total of $286,115; the Department of Labor pays 17 official time employees a total of more than $1.6 million and the Department of Commerce pays four official time employees a total of $373,055.
Finally, the foundation reported the Department of Homeland Security pays 39 official time employees more than $2.7 million and the Department of the Interior pays three official time employees $263,873 in total.
The most recent report published by the Office of Personnel Management in 2012 revealed the federal government had spent more than $157 million on salaries of official time employees.
“The figures referenced above are but a small piece of the total cost associated with the practice of federal agencies providing labor unions with free employees,” the foundation said in its report. “This is a large problem.”
Labell said 47 state constitutions currently prohibit using public expenditures to aid private entities and that some lawmakers have proposed legislation that would enact a federal gift clause to prohibit similar issues.
He said the only benefit for agencies that pay employees to perform union work is a political one.
“Taxpayer-funded salaries should not enable government unions to grow their power and influence to further extract tax dollars from the public, yet that’s exactly how the system works,” Labell said.

Alton Daily News|Taxpayer Group Suggests Pension Fixes

Taxpayers United of America’s Executive Director, Jared Labell, was interviewed by Alton Daily News about TUA’s 10th Annual Report on Illinois State Pensions and the crushing financial impact the unfunded pensions have on Illinois’ taxpayers.


A taxpayer group has some fixes they say are severe but necessary to shore up the state’s growing unfunded pension liability.

Taxpayers United of America released their 10th Annual Report on Illinois State Pensions. The highlights include more than 15,600 state pensioners collecting more than $100,000 annually. More than 92,300 pensioners make more than $50,000 annually.
Taxpayers United of America Executive Director Jared Labell said for the top 400 pensioners the average pension contributions made over an entire career is only about $40,000 more than what the average annual pension is.
 
“For many of these pensioners they’re already recouping all of their contributions barely over a year of retirement. They’ve already made that money back,” Labell said.
Labell said something has to be done. “Look, this is not a good situation for any of us, whether it’s for taxpayers or for employees, and some solution has to be cut.”
Labell said some changes could include changing the state Constitution’s pension protection clause or allowing for bankruptcy reorganization to alleviate pension obligations, but even that has its potential problems.
“But it also has some downsides in that politicians may then decide that they can spend frivolously with taxpayer dollars and then bail themselves out by declaring bankruptcy at the end of their term,” Labell said.
The state’s unfunded pension liability is $113 billion and growing.

Illinois News Network|Report: Severe fixes necessary for Illinois pensions

Taxpayers United of America’s Executive Director, Jared Labell, was interviewed by Illinois News Network about TUA’s 10th Annual Report on Illinois State Pensions and the crushing financial impact the unfunded pensions have on Illinois’ taxpayers.


A taxpayer group has some fixes they say are severe but necessary to shore up the state’s growing unfunded pension liability.
Taxpayers United of America released their 10th Annual Report on Illinois State Pensions. The highlights include more than 15,600 state pensioners collecting more than $100,000 annually. More than 92,300 pensioners make more than $50,000 annually.
Taxpayers United of America Executive Director Jared Labell said for the top 400 pensioners the average pension contributions made over an entire career is only about $40,000 more than what the average annual pension is.
“For many of these pensioners they’re already recouping all of their contributions barely over a year of retirement. They’ve already made that money back,” Labell said.
Labell said something has to be done. “Look, this is not a good situation for any of us, whether it’s for taxpayers or for employees, and some solution has to be cut.”
Labell said some changes could include changing the state Constitution’s pension protection clause or allowing for bankruptcy reorganization to alleviate pension obligations, but even that has its potential problems.
“But it also has some downsides in that politicians may then decide that they can spend frivolously with taxpayer dollars and then bail themselves out by declaring bankruptcy at the end of their term,” Labell said.
The state’s unfunded pension liability is $113 billion and growing.

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Taxpayers United Of America: (TUA). is a nonpartisan, 501(c)(4) taxpayer advocacy group. Founded June 27, 1976 in Chicago, Illinois by activist and economist Jim Tobin, TUA works on behalf of taxpayers to reduce local, state, and federal taxes. In the past forty years, TUA has saved taxpayers more than $200 billion n taxes and has become one of the largest taxpayer organizations in America. Check All posts. s.

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