Government affairs

Legislative Updates

House bill aims to restrict official time at the VA

On May 17, the House Veterans Affairs Committee approved the Veterans, Employees, and Taxpayers Protection Act of 2017 (H.R. 1461) on a nearly party line vote, with Rep. Mike Bost (R-IL) joining Democrats in opposing the bill.

The legislation aims to place arbitrary caps on official time, limiting who can use official time and placing roadblocks in the way of employees seeking representation. It also calls for restricting due-process rights for new hires by extending the probationary period from 12 to 18 months, limits official representation of union members by their chosen leaders, and allows union members to revoke their membership at any time. By allowing employees to drop in and out of union membership at will, the bill would interfere with union business if passed, undermining the union and potentially reducing overall membership, weakening collective bargaining.

“If passed, [H.R. 1461] would arbitrarily prohibit entire categories of VA employees from using official time to improve care for veterans," said Veterans Affairs Committee Ranking Member Tim Walz (D-MN), "while restricting the capacity of whistleblowers to safely report problems in the workplace.”

NALC opposes any attempt to thwart a union’s right to elect its chosen leaders, to eliminate the use of official time and to eliminate federal employees’ right to representation.

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