Bill McMorris of the Washington Free Beacon documents disturbing news about federal government employees performing work for their unions while working at taxpayers’ expense.

Government employees spent nearly 3.5 million hours conducting union business, costing taxpayers $162.5 million in 2014, according to a new report.

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) revealed that official time increased by more than 10 percent between 2008 and 2014—the most recent data available. Official time is the practice of allowing a federal worker to remain on the clock even as he conducts business for his labor organization, rather than his government job.

OPM found that employee representatives logged 3,468,170 hours doing official union activities in 2014, a 20 percent jump from the 2008 fiscal year. OPM concluded that official time cost taxpayers $162.5 million based on average salary and benefits payments made to federal workers, a $5 million increase from 2012.

Union representatives increased their time away from the job by 30,000 hours from 2012, according to OPM, which surveyed more than 50 agencies to complete the report. A minority of departments was responsible for the increase, while the majority actually reduced the use of official time.
“Thirty-seven agencies reported reductions in the total number of official time hours used whereas twenty (20) reported increases and four (4) reported no changes in the total number of official time hours used,” the report found.

Smaller agencies with fewer union members experienced the largest increases in official time, which can involve grievance or discipline issues, as well as bargaining. The International Boundary and Water Commission, which maintains international waters standards along the U.S.-Mexico border under the State Department umbrella and employees fewer than 1,000 workers, experienced a 543 percent increase in official time between 2012 and 2014. Union representatives logged 135 hours on official time up from 21 in 2012.

The State Department overall witnessed a 50 percent increase over that time period. Homeland Security also witnessed a 30 percent climb in official time from 2012 to 2014.