(The Center Square) – The federal Office of Personnel Management is actively helping public unions recruit more members, and critics are calling it a major conflict of interest.
OPM recently released updates to FedScope, a public database of federal employees, that will allow union leaders to recruit those employees to grow their member rolls, and as a result, their coffers.
“The decision by the Office of Personnel Management to help unions identify additional organizing opportunities in the federal government is concerning, but utterly predictable,” said Maxford Nelsen, director of labor policy at the Freedom Foundation. “In fact, it’s just the latest in a string of related efforts by the Biden administration to promote unionization.”
In the private sector, companies usually work hard to prevent unions from forming because they can cause costs to balloon. The federal government, though, is less motivated since those added costs are simply passed off to the taxpayers.
On top of that, critics point out that supporting unions with taxpayer funds can have big political benefits for elected officials.
President Joe Biden issued an executive order in April of last year stating plainly that “the policy of my Administration is to encourage worker organizing and collective bargaining.”
That included the creation of a labor task force to that end and put Vice President Kamala Harris in charge.
And unions have been grateful, publicly thanking the Biden administration for the help. The National Federation of Federal Employees thanked Biden in a press release last week for the OPM tool.
“This upgraded resource will be an excellent tool for our union to locate non-union employees across the federal government who are rightfully entitled to representation and a voice in their workplace,” said NFFE National President Randy Erwin. “NFFE specifically requested assistance in identifying the hundreds of thousands of unrepresented government workers, and today OPM delivered on its commitment to promote employee organizing and collective bargaining by rolling out the enhanced database. We are excited to help these federal employees who have not yet joined a union organize in their workplaces and obtain critical rights and benefits through unionizing.”
Critics, though, say taxpayer funds should not be used to help grow unions, especially when unions traditionally support Democrats in various ways, including rallying members on their behalf or through campaign ads, though there are some restrictions on donations.
Biden was outspokenly pro-union on the campaign trail, and labor organizations shelled out more than $27 million for Biden in the 2020 election cycle, according to Open Secrets.
OPM did not respond to a request for comment.
“Helping unions identify organizing targets in the federal workforce not only enlists taxpayers in promoting private, politically active organizations opposed to their interests, but exposes the reality that much union organizing comes from the top down,” Nelsen said. “If federal employees were clamoring for union representation, unions wouldn’t need the Biden administration to help them find the pockets of non-union employees hiding out in the federal bureaucracy.”