Arrington Introduces His First Bill in the 115th Congress
WASHINGTON - Today, Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity Chairman, Jodey Arrington (R-Texas) introduced the Veterans, Employees and Taxpayer (VET) Protection Act. This bill would require VA to track the use of official time and prohibit employees involved with direct patient care from spending more than 25% of their time on union activities and any VA employee from spending more than 50% of their time on union activities. This legislation would also put an end to forcing VA employees to pay union dues, giving them the freedom to opt out at any time.
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“The men and women who raised their right hand and committed to serve deserve nothing but the best. Unfortunately, time and time again, our veterans have not received the care that measures up to this standard of excellence. In fact, several veterans have died waiting for care,” said Arrington. “It is outrageous and unconscionable that VA employees, especially employees who provide much needed health care services, are spending the majority of their time conducting union business instead of fulfilling the duties they were hired to do. The VET Protection Act will go a long way to restore public confidence by ensuring VA is using taxpayer resources appropriately and that employees are focused on their primary mission of serving our nation’s heroes.”
“The mission of the VA isn’t to take care of unions; it’s to take care of veterans” said Roe, Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. “This legislation will ensure that the well-being of our heroes is prioritized above all else, and I thank subcommittee chairman Arrington for his leadership on this issue.”
Lubbock veteran, Colonel David J. Lewis, USAF (Retired), in support of Rep. Arrington’s legislation said, “This is exactly the kind of accountability we need from our federal agencies and precisely how our elected officials can insist on accountability. Access to timely healthcare for our veterans is reaching a crisis level, and requires an ‘All Hands on Deck’ approach to address these needs, especially in mental health. We must look for ways to reduce the bureaucracy and get our veterans the care they earned. I'm proud of Congressman Arrington's willingness to tackle this issue head on.”
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Background: Under VA’s current union agreements, union members can use “official time” to conduct union business such as working on employee grievances, addressing bargaining issues and some lobbying efforts while being paid by VA. A Government Accountability Office report found that more than 340 VA employees, including numerous high level health care providers, spend 100% of their time working on union duties instead of the work VA hired them to do. What’s more, VA does not have a standardized system to track how much time its employees spend doing union work.