One of the most objectionable schemes of government union collective bargaining process, which excessively drives up the cost of government for taxpayers, in ways or at levels that do not exist in the private sector, is being paid for not working. This issue, along with many others defined in the Center’s report, Public Union Excesses, contribute to an $888 million per year in excessive collectively-bargained costs, responsible for driving up local property taxes by up to 25%.
After looking at examples in just a few cities and towns, municipal taxpayers across Rhode Island may collectively be paying millions of dollars per year for unionized government employees to spend their public time on work for their unions… and not to work on the public services they were hired to perform.
Adding insult to injury, the many collectively bargained provisions that specifically allow for these so-called ‘ghost workers’ may actually be in violation of state law.
Under this scheme, unions across Rhode Island use taxpayers as contractual piggy banks to fund union activities. This is called union release time. How many Rhode Islanders know that they are paying for ‘ghost workers’ who are paid by the public, but who do not actually perform a public service for some or all of their official time?
Instead, a common provision – found in many government union collective bargaining agreements – mandates that taxpayers pay the salary and benefits for for certain public employees, who spend time working on their unions’ business.
This union release time scheme is indeed a rip-off for taxpayers, as many of the designated union ‘ghost workers’ are awarded six-figure compensation packages, paid for by the public… but without the public’s receiving a commensurate return.
By heaping more privileges upon those who help get them elected, politicians continue to lose the trust of the people, who are also losing hope for their state.
These tragic circumstances have conspired to make it a virtual certainty that the Ocean State will lose a prized U.S. congressional seat after the 2020 national census because of its stagnant population growth.