President Donald Trump made a promise on the campaign trail that he would reform our beleaguered Department of Veterans Affairs.

The latest reform puts an and to official time within the department, which means that medical employees at the VA will not receive taxpayer money while doing work for the unions. From the VA news release:

“It’s common sense,” VA Acting Assistant Secretary for Human Resources and Administration Jacquelyn Hayes-Byrd said. “Allowing health care workers to do taxpayer-funded union work instead of serving Veterans impacts patient care negatively. President Trump has made it clear – VA employees should always put Veterans first. And when we hire medical professionals to take care of Veterans, that’s what they should do at all times. No excuses, no exceptions.”

As an example of the negative effect taxpayer-funded union time has on Veteran care, one VA registered nurse who was elected as a local union official receives 100 percent taxpayer funded union time. Although she no longer provides patient care, she continues to receive a nurse’s salary, which at VA averages more than $90,000 per year.

Department-wide in fiscal year 2016, VA employees spent more than a million hours doing taxpayer-funded union work at a total cost of more than $49 million.

In other words, if you are a medical professional, that’s exactly what you will do when employed at the VA.

J. David Cox, Sr., the president of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), described this move as “a grave disservice to our nation’s veterans” because “[S]ilencing (these employees’) voices endangers our veterans.”

Actually, Mr. Cox, I think that having medical professionals not perform their medical duty is a grave disservice to our veterans considering the fact that long wait times, lower staff numbers have led to veterans not receiving proper care.

One manager told the Government Accountability Office that “it can be especially challenging to find other staff to fill in for employees who are responsible for serving patients yet spend most of their work time on official times.”

The Washington Free Beacon reported that taxpayers spent $49 million on union activities in 2016. Is it only me, but wouldn’t that money be better used to strengthen and update VA hospitals and supplies? Remember this blog from March where I detailed the serious and deadly conditions at a DC hospital?

Cox tried to slam the VA by using the 35,000 health care jobs open. Maybe the VA could fill it if it didn’t waste money on people using so much official time.

But it simply comes down to this: You receive a paycheck for doing the work you were hired to do.


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