PAID FOR NOT WORKING: Ghost Workers and Union Release Time

mike-stenhouse-avatar
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.


  • Rhett Hardwick

    This is part of the union game every where. The first time I encountered it was in the maritime. The “Wage and Manning” scale requires five engineers. There is really nothing for the fifth engineer to do unless another is ill, so they sail with four. The four engineers split the pay of the fifth engineer, because they are “doing his job”.

  • ShannonEntropy

    … and thanks to the new Evergreen Contract Law taking discussions of those positions off the table will prolly be a precondition for any contract renewal negotiations

    p.s. The handwriting’s been on the wall for yrs now about us losing that second House seat. We’ve been sinking on the US Congressional Apportionment survey since the last census, falling to # 385 [ the last position to get a second seat ] last year

    • D. S. Crockett

      Somehow I think there will be enough illegal aliens with voter id cards in our state before the bell tolls.

  • bagida’wewinini

    There are benefits for the employer in having union officers performing human resource work. Giving these democratically elected union officers the time to meet the needs of their members (the employees) seems logical

    https://bizfluent.com/about-5435574-labor-union-advantages-employer.html

    • ShannonEntropy

      And there are “benefits” to having the inmates run Atascadero State Hospital too

      That duzn’t mean it would be a good idea

Quantcast