NJ Taxpayers Footing Bill for Public Employees' Union Work

Thursday, 10 May 2012 08:25 AM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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New Jersey taxpayers are spending millions each year to allow public employees to perform union duties and their time is not always reimbursed, according to a state commission investigation.
 
While it is not unusual for government employers to grant time off for union work, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported Wednesday the State Commission of Investigation had found “significant and questionable variations in how such leave is authorized, who qualifies for it, who keeps track of it, how it is constituted, and who ultimately pays the bill.”
 
In Camden alone, the newspaper said the commission discovered $2.3 million had been spent over the past five years paying salaries and benefits for three police officers and three firefighters doing full-time union business.
 
Statewide, the commission found that some union officials had been on paid leave for decades, “occupying government job titles but doing no government work.”
 
In some cases, unofficial agreements allowed union officials to earn a salary, health coverage, and other benefits, at taxpayer expense.
 
According to the Inquirer, the investigation took place between 2006 and 2011 and looked at more than 12 state government departments, 17 municipalities, more than 120 school districts, and 17 counties.
 
Overall, the commission found government-paid leave for public employees doing union work cost taxpayers about $30 million during that period.

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