Betsy DeVos Speaks Softly, Carries Big Stick

You've probably not heard about these changes at the Department of Education.

Betsy DeVos has faced some stark critiques. From her confirmation hearing to her response to the Parkland, Fla., school shooting, the education secretary has sparked a good deal of controversy.

But through the cacophony, she has quietly implemented some big changes. Her latest is a revision to the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between the Education Department and its 3,900 employees represented by Council 252 of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE).

Whereas federal workers in the department used to be able to conduct union-related business while on government time, DeVos has changed the policy to prohibit such activity.

The new CBA eliminates the set-aside of “official time” for union business. Under the old agreement, designated union representatives were free to work on union business during normal, government hours — all on the taxpayers’ dime. The old CBA stipulated that “no fewer than 75” (!) union stewards across the country could work up to 40 hours a year on “official time,” while another three union officers would devote 100 percent of their time to union business. Henceforth, union business will be done on union time, rather than on the taxpayers’.

Technically, it's a single reform, but it's one among several that save taxpayers money and keep federal employees focused on their jobs.

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