VA finally gave the finger to the federal unions working within its walls breaching its 2011 contract by revoking “official time” for certain health care professionals.

VA presently spends an estimated $49 million on salaries of employees working full time as union representatives supporting other employees in employment grievances. For example, one nurse whose salary averages $80,000 could be working full time on union activities and zero time helping veterans seeking care.

For some, including President Donald Trump, this kind of arrangement is unacceptable.

“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.”

The problem with President Trump’s posture on this issue is that it defies contract law. The appropriate move would be to renegotiate the contract rather than breach the agreement. Now, one could argue that since VA regularly breaches its social contract to provide fair treatment of veterans, then breaching its union contract is par for the course.

Those interested in researching the legal ramifications should start by researching the landmark decision: Goose v. Gander.

The list of officials who will no longer be able to work on “official time” is:

  • Physician
  • Dentist
  • Podiatrist
  • Chiropractor
  • Optometrist
  • Registered Nurse
  • Physician assistant
  • Expanded-Duty Dental Auxiliary

On Wednesday, VA sent out a memorandum titled “Notice of Repudiation.” The basis for the repudiation is the assertion that use of “official time” by Title 38 employees “negatively impacts direct patient care.”

The agency is relying on its own interpretation of 38 USC § 7422 and FLRA precedent wherein the agency can repudiate any part of a collective bargaining agreement that conflicts with federal law. The assertion is that use of “official time” directly impacts patient care.

Do I agree with their definition?

No. Their assertion that one nurse serving “official time” has a direct impact on care for a particular patient is a stretch, and that argument can cut both ways. Union representation through the grievance process helps protect good health care providers from hostile managers engaging in harassment.

Harassment impacts a nurse’s ability to provide quality care. And, we would be lying and ignorant to pretend that VA management does not engage in harassment on a regular basis.

The problem with this approach is that it supports the federal government making up arguments in support of an agenda without regard to a Court’s express Order (DC Circuit), or common sense.

Do we really want federal government moving further in this direction at the whim of whoever is in control?

According to a WaPo article:

VA’s announcement carries important implications that go well beyond the agency’s walls. The repudiation notice is in line with Trump’s three union-bashing executive orders, one of which called for sharp restrictions on official time. But key elements of the May 25 directives have been blocked by a federal court decision the administration is appealing. The administration’s action seeks to accomplish part what it could not do, at least so far, by executive order.

“We are shocked that the Trump Administration would try take unilateral action like this to undermine VA employee unions after being so thoroughly blocked by the courts on these matters just a couple months ago,” said Randy Erwin, president of the National Federation of Federal Employees. “In our view, this action from the VA is a clear violation of the law and the court order blocking implementation of President Trump’s anti-union executive orders. … NFFE will be seeking immediate intervention from the Courts on this matter.”

Like the unions, hate the unions, when the Executive Branch of the government makes up the rules as they go, it is dangerous. And, I am basically chewing off my own arm here since canceling “official time” will dramatically increase reliance on attorneys instead of union representatives.

The hilarious thing, here, is VA officials will get chewed up and spit out by attorneys whenever the official is engaged in some stupid plot to fraudulently remove or harass an employee. Through the use of depositions, discover, and MSPB hearings, this is great for business…. for me. And for the press.

But, the agency is wrong, here. The federal government should not make up the laws this way to advance an agenda in this way.

I remember how absurd it seemed when President Barack Obama called our wars in northern Africa a “kinetic action” rather than a war. Many hundreds of thousands of people were displaced, were injured, or died through that conflict in Libya, for example.

We need to get back to the rule of law. We are a nation of laws, after all. The further we move from that True North, the more dangerous our country becomes for us Americans and for those against whom we aim the cannons.

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19 COMMENTS

  1. Let me tell you when Ronny took the traffic control union to the floor I was all for it and I feel the same now you remember the law to help the Vet’s and people who work at the VA from getting the shaft from the upper management for bad service to the Vet’s it was put into law and signed in to law by BO and the union told them that they would not follow it and told them to go to hell. Now what you think about an union can take away the bennifits to both and look at the law and say which one they would follow like the ones who make the law and don’t follow too. So I say to all if we are a country of laws all must follow them until they are changed.

  2. Damn! Deep subject Ben. This topic alone would need one of those V-Bulletin chat boards to argue over for the rest of our short lives, and nothing being accomplished but chasing tails. Or going the way of the attorney jokes of Goose V. Gander. And other rabbit holes. Funny though, to me it was intended or not.

    This is just another never ending tale of this or that versus that or this. Feds/Company vs. Union shops or as corporations/stock-holders/elite/gubbermint/special interests putting the boots on the necks of both and the debaters or concerned. As corruption, profiteering, abuses, power-tripping, the immune takes deeper roots ‘top to bottom.’

    High pay for union staff to spend huge times or all times on union like affairs? Totally unacceptable. If need be give em a little time on the job to do whatever and the rest can be done at home, the pubs, or union buildings. This crap is right up their with the VA company people allowing for union staff to shut down or slow down the works due to threats of possible strikes, which I don’t think they can do, or as an aside union staff calling in on pre-set times to create severe shortages in the VA hospitals and many clinics at the same time. We never here about that even though the top dogs of the VA and others are fully and totally aware of this. Like talking shop, gossiping, openly sharing their issues in-front of vets instead of doing their jobs. But now I guess new rules about how many appointments a vet can have per day may have shut-down any sight of this going on today. Glad I got to see it more than once before the ship tightening up allowing games to be seen or made aware of by some to report or discuss. The more trips to the VA along with the once allowable multi-clinic visits once allowed could really open some eyes if they cared to look or notice some things. Odd how the ‘machine’ tends to shut down things like recordings that may show some reality and truth.

    What’s more important? “Official Time,” or veterans life, quality of life, or death issues? Or listening to arguments between the college kiddies, cocky staff, or med students, etc.

    Grievances don’t always work as intended, ethically, and depends on who may not like who or what is more corrupt. Who deserves the protection this clique or connected person or the other one. Mediation means then maybe as as a cheaper step up from a difficult or meaningless/activist grievance?

    Laws or selected fascism and censoring to black-balling? In a nation of supposed laws but corrupted ones and courts while living in a new fascist state of affairs where we can’t even get back-up or reps for our Constitutional rights, Bill of Rights, or for other basic human rights in any field or playground VA or not? One set of laws for critters in DC to Hollweird, another set for prominent families and mafia cliques, for the Fraternal Orders, court officials, the immune, to the treatments of the cannon fodder, pawns, sheep, tax slaves??? Who by the way many cannot afford to see fair treatment by some “laws” or high dollar courts, or play the games of run arounds, buck passing, precise court procedures/language. The screwing to complications/red tape/intentional confusion, lacks of due process is all by design and has been.

    Patient Advocates more worried about their “team-mates” or union brethren than veterans? With many officials, unions, medical associations/boards, political parties united to end, or more concerned about stopping “Right to Work” bills or to put illegals or immigrants to work at higher levels or in the medical fields before Americans or vets? Or about covering all their own asses and complaints from some of us? It can get deep and dangerous even getting back to the days of union or company styled thuggery that is kept out of the news or we are supposed to be silent over due to some being “offended,” not enough on the job freedom, or given a black-eye over some issue.

    Going through the dense cob-webbing in my top knot this is just a throw-back to the good old days of union official vs. corrupt unions, vs corporate/banker’s/stockholders interests, vs SES types, vs. activists…blah blah blah. Then back to the this law applied here for that one, restricted for this one, more blah blah.

    Been too many years ago but we can go back and compare today to yester-years. Taft–Hartley Act, NLRB crap, dangers to free speech crap (Censored today), “National Security/trade” needs. Anti-Communist needs, oops too late too. Air traffic controllers issues and the like etc. The propaganda about who supported and did just what. We need more laws more allowances some cry. Which POTUS was the worse enemy of unions or who baited and switched. Trump? Obama? Bush’s? Clinton? Reagan? Carter? Did the book “Collision Course” and other writ explain it all or help with these on-going, never ending, deep-seated issues? Has anything changed today? Hell no, old games/agendas continue, profiteering, distractions, controlled thought processes, to the musical chairs up there.

    Again, how many died recently? How many suicides in the past twelve hours or so?

    • Not a deep subject at all. The VA is correct. If you are a VA employee then you do VA work. If you want to be a Union employee then you go to work for them. There is NO law anywhere that will allow one employee to go and work for another business while the first business is paying them for their time. That will never stand up in a court of law and you know it Ben! So WHY are you seemingly on the side of the VA employees to do this instead of taking care of the patients that they were hired to do?

      I am starting to worry about you Ben and where your priorities are at.

      • Just trying to play the ‘field.’ One big field in reality. Not so short and simple.

        Oh oh and here it comes while people suffer, wastes of time, waste of resources, compounded distractions/divisions/activist etc:
        “https://federalnewsnetwork.com/unions/2018/11/va-eliminates-official-time-for-some-104000-employees/”

        I agree Dan however. Ben did point out he’s chewing his own arm off. Not many attorneys will do that over any issue say like with the vet medical issues of constant bankruptcy problems for greed… most welcome the added income gladly without word. With a flood of wanted clients he mentioned headed to their legal offices and choosing. Along with that I am thinking this began with the “whistle-blowing” issues.

        Government, no agencies, no union (s), no “laws,” protected me in my times of need when supposedly safe from retaliations, firing, or thuggery. None protected me or like today came to the rescue when a federal court brief just disappeared from my attorney’s office that was excused by all and sent me packing with hard lessons about corruption and how deep it goes and no-way to fight it. Oh, but there will be those who claim awww no such things happen in “murica.”

        All the issues I’ve been dealing with today and recent past is because of the VA, their unions, health care associations, lying medical board asshats, local lawyers with some having long memories of some failed attempts about reporting them for gross professional misconduct, major ethics violations, they should have been dis-barred over. To having bad blood with the local ruling areas political party, all the “Proud Union Members,” and some hate from politicians that haven’t grown up from being bullies in grade school or college days. Who are totally and have obsessed over me for years waiting for some weak periods or times for attacks. And all doing the covering-up and protecting games. All this shit leaches out to other unions, groups, cliques, associations, myriad of activists, over protective family members/gangs/mafias, politicians for their “identity politics” gaming, foreigner’s groups, the country club elite, etc. The reality of the layering on of shit can be sky high with no ending to it. And no “whistle-blowing’ laws will help or will function as claimed. But some had hope… I don’t. Too much fear and too easy to ruin peoples lives with a word or phone call. Too many behind the scenes players, SJWs, and attack dogs. If the scum want to rid themselves of a problem they are easily fired, forced out, and shown as examples for all to see. Like with what has happened to some posters here.

        All the above could end by ethical people coming out in force or alone to “whistle-blow.” Not just waiting till some harm hits too close to home, too late then. Expose the filth from the top down, bottom up, inside out. Again, won’t happen. Laws are a farce and facade. Few to none are willing to put their lives, family units best interests and connections on the line to expose some deep-seated enemies, corrupt, and traitors. Rules of the jungle and living in ‘union strong’ areas. Wish things were simple and work was work, so-called professionals did their thing as with the oaths, activist to politics kept away from certain areas of life like health care or basic living needs by some. Again, I don’t see ethics or common decency coming down the road.

        Who are they (the corrupt or “teams”) all going to pick to side with? Me? Networks of corruption, chain of union members? The abused, harmed, the targets, or their own? Too many lives are too comfy to upset the apple carts even over other American’s lives and health.

      • I forgot to throw in the word – trust. Just like grand ole USSR days, or N. Korea, or China red, you don’t know who to trust regardless of years known or positions. Same things fly with the new ‘Murica’ and within every union out there and community/nation wide. Hard lesson to know ya can’t trust anyone in official potions to the media much and the many have a price to be bought and sold. Along with all those in fear or not wanting to get involved or with those VSOs and such not wanting to get involved due to poly-ticking, to fearing ruling regimes or the need to swim with schools of fishes to fit in.

    • Moo! (: (: Yep, we’re the ticket to the cookie jar atop the meat train’s caboose…Moo, indeed!

      Want to bet the AFGE will quickly rename ‘Official Time’ to something every VA hack is trained extensively for; rectal exams?!!

      AFGE Rectal Exams will be where all the cool craniums are impacted.

  3. Unions can be a pain in the behind but they do serve a purpose, if following protocol to assist union workers in disputes then the union should have hired dedicated union Representatives to conduct official time and disputes, and not nurses, doctors not doing their jobs serving veterans, there has to be some compromise in getting this resolved

  4. The unions are not protecting employees from abusive management, the union is busy protecting the thugs.

    Check out the NPR story, from June 2018. In that story read about retired U.S. Army Colonel, Cynthia Chavez. She was forced to resign after the union-protected thug she was trying to discipline for theft was allowed to retire with full benefits.

    Here is an excerpt from the NPR story:

    “Soon after, Chavez got the first of many anonymous-threat letters slipped under her Tuskegee office door. “This isn’t the Army, where you had connections. This is the VA and we will get you,” one letter said.

    But Chavez says that the anonymous-threat letters were only slightly more menacing than what she soon got from her boss and the local union leaders.”

    I, myself, suffered from a union where members and union officials engaged in harassing me and the union president himself lied to me (he said that a DAV employee said he felt “threatened” by me).

    The union helped the VA retaliate against me at all costs – while protecting thugs who threatened to bring guns to work to use against me; who violated the privacy of my and other veterans records; and, whi lacked the conduct, knowledge, skills, and abilities to work at the VA.

    The union is about 90% of why the VA can’t improve, IMO. The union needs to go.

    And, if they wanna be doing the union thing no way they should be pulling a VA check at the same time. That should be against the law.

    Get rid of the union and who cares how it is done!!! The union violates the laws to protect its thugs and intimidate, remove anyone who stands up to them. So, time for them to go!!!

  5. the VA has all that money to protect and hear the problems of contract employees but little if any for wronged vets. The patient advocate is at best a farce. That person knows well which side of his toast is buttered and will act according.

  6. BTW, all this ‘We are a nation of laws’ bull?

    The VA violated its own procedures/regulations, union contract and precedent law when it terminated me.

    I had to sit back and watch the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) and Federal Circuit not only rubber stamp whar was done to me, but they also violated my right to due process (i.e. not appling precedent and U.S. Supreme Court rulings upon review of my appeals).

    So, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. In other words, if the law is going to be ignored for one, ignore it for all.

    You’d think that the Kavanaugh thing would wake people up as to how our right to due process and the goverment and/or courts following the law is important before destroying someone’s life (due to unsupported allegations made by people with agendas).

    So, no pulling out the smallest violin to play a tune for the union here. They and the VA have no problem in violating the laws and the courts uphold it. Who cares….really.

  7. Here we go again all about protecting VA employees. No one is protecting veterans.

    Law’s laughable ! Patient advocate ! Are VA employees. It is their job to get the veterans to stop their complaints or to dismiss their complaints.

    Law’s laughable ! The VA is punishing veterans through the illegal disruptive committee.

    The VA has regulations do they follow those regulations. Only when they benefit the VA. When it comes to veterans they are ignored.

    Veterans are caught in the middle and seem to be a byproduct of doing business !

    They are the problem it seems.

    These people whom are breaking the law and not following Court Orders, should be held in contempt and brought in front of a Real Judge and punished.

    It would have to be the Secretary of veterans affairs, who should be held accountable for breaking those lawful orders.

  8. Sounds like you are influencing this decision. Oh, I am not saying I am against you. Just that you are invoking to much of an opinion on the situation, when you should just be reporting the facts and letting the people decide is all.

    You have stated several times in no such terms that you just report. Then do that Benjamin Krause.

  9. I thought you were scrapping the long posts Ben??? Bad for SEO???? I am a “reader” and I am not going to read these long posts. You guys need to think “haiku,” be “concise” and “witty.” That way this blog will show up in internet searches more often when Veterans issues come up. Sorry, but your long posts are hurting our cause, not helping.

    Union reps are a joke in the VA. I mean, A REALLY BIG JOKE! They are about as good/worthless as the Patient Advocates. The two things they are best at is taking smoke breaks and hiding in their offices surfing the internet.

  10. I think every single one of those union bastards deserves a fair trial before being strung up. You speak of rights??? Whose rights??? The right of The People to control public servants takes precedence over any contract that was conjured up by teams of lawyers over generations of corrupt VA officials. My God these people are responsible for some of the most horrific and deadly behavior EVER sanctioned and protected by union so called rights and now we need to lay down and feel what? Feel bad these pecker heads must do the job We The People believed we were paying them for?

    Nope. Piss on them and the horse they rode in on and every one of those bastards can kiss my ass if they feel cheated that Uncle Sam no longer pays their bills in exchange for labor done for the plague of America -AFGE. These are not innocent bystanders suddnly having the caroet ripped from under them! These are not unstained doves just struggling to out together a life. These are monsters who time and again have pissed in Ameticas face and then give the big old bare ass to anyone who tries to stop them. FIRE every last one of those pricks and shut them down before the spill another generation of veterans blood. End VA segregation or the nightmare will never, ever, ever cease.

    Set fire to the contract and go after these worms. You are worried about abuse of authority…??? Seems to me the genie was let out of that bottle a very long time ago. The bloodshed and wanton unabashed disregard for human decency and total disregard for The Constitution is all the exuse I need to give POTUS all my support in taking down this abomination of our government.

    DON’T TREAD ON ME.

    • Dennis. You hit the nail on the head about the big C but taking down this, coup (sp), against the Trumpster goes high and deep. Just like those attacking us, or some of us, can go high and deep. Ben should know by now along with others we lost the big C along time ago. John F. Kennedy was done away with for upsetting some enemies (many) against “We the People.” People bitch and moan if we don’t use the enemy’s play books and words just to stifle communications which is worse or as bad as all the censoring going on. The ‘whine’ about PC-ness or stupid “hate speech” is nothing more than brain-washing and controls. Then “readers” want to moan about info or too much info or discussions/revelations. I’m surprised the ‘machine’ allows Ben to have this website while totally controlling or attacking those in many areas of the country and totally ignoring people like you with your ordeals with the VA and court’s clowns/judges/admin etc. We are NOT under “Constitutional Law.” Bankers and “the corporation” seen that happened generations ago and kicking the cans of corruption down to us where change is impossible, just destruction and collapse. Our lives mean nothing to the real clowns at the top, nothing.

      Dealing with the VA, the myriad of unions to their hard line supporters along with all the behind the scenes corruption, would mean the bringing down the whole house of cards and the true enemies and blind, the brain-dead, don’t want that. Won’t allow that, so we have to play the games that go no-where and deal with those out to destroy or silence us. There are more than enough books out there from Kevin Shipp, a couple of Congress critters, Sheryl Attkisson, and others that have exposed the phony “whistle-blowing” laws and why veterans and us at the bottom are mere subjects of the corporations and can be attacked, harassed, ignored, or let die off on a whim. It all also exposes as to just why so many fear the ‘machine’ and so many including those in the judicial systems allow it all to continue not really giving a good shit about us. That includes media too. The whole sheebang is corrupt to the core. Yet we are supposed to bow to the ‘readers’ only, the instigators, agents, and to the corrupted, bought off and paid-for enemies. Hell, there are many out there including veterans to college kiddies that have never read the little Constitution booklets even. And we are supposed to bow to them too. Or trust anyone … upstairs or in DC. Truth and deep research is not done much today nor wanted if allowed.

  11. Ben. It also may help enlighten you (and others) about the Dept. of Justice, judicial systems, if you contact a member of the BAR or ABA for info. Sydney Powell. She is a DC insider and knows how the ‘machine’ functions and why some of us out here can freely be harassed, attacked, ignored, to being black-balled by a entire state and community. Then again there are those who hate truth, exposure, or may shake-up their little worlds of understandings and mindset. Ask her about the ‘rule of laws’ to the U.S. AG and more. Yeah that includes the VA and their band of hoods and legal thugs. Whatever the topics… the top is pure corruption and game playing. People should educate themselves besides playing attack dogs, or remain enemies of the nation and of veterans.. or “We The Peeps.”

  12. Here’s a ‘Happy Veteran’s Day” post that is not far off from the topic and doesn’t violate copyrights, etc. Might be an interesting short read for some, a ‘can’t read’ for others. Kinda long like dope warnings. Interested click and read. If not stifle it and pass by.

    A Badge of Shame: The Government’s War on America’s Military Veterans
    By John W. Whitehead
    November 05, 2018
    “https://www.rutherford.org/publications_resources/john_whiteheads_commentary/a_badge_of_shame_the_governments_war_on_americas_military_veterans?utm_source=The+Rutherford+Institute&utm_campaign=59c0e72939-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_11_05_02_09&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_d7ffde3304-59c0e72939-42108713”

  13. Hip, hip..

    Hypocrisy.

    The Agent Orange Issue continues to spin out of control. Now our beloved government is going to spend millions cleaning up the dirt in Vietnam and useless VA administrators can’t finalise presumptive eligibility for diseases like loss of thyroid.

    Speaking of dirt, naw never mind.

    John McGuire
    Former USAF, SSgt
    Tan Son Nhut
    1970-71

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