Despite partisanship, IRS should remain unionized, Democrats say

A recent proposal by Senate Finance Committee Republicans that would prohibit unions at the Internal Revenue Service has raised ire among committee Democrats and the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) the measure seeks diminish.

NTEU represents 150,000 federal employees across 31 agencies, including the IRS.

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a committee member and "longtime NTEU ally" defended the union, saying in a written statement to the American Media Institute, “The outrageous Republican attacks on America’s working class never seem to cease, or cease to amaze. Their latest backdoor attack unfortunately focuses squarely on our country’s dedicated federal workforce, which is already being asked to do more with less than ever before because of Republican budgets.” 

The Senate plan was released just before NTEU President Colleen M. Kelley’s retirement speech last week. The bipartisan report accuses interference at the IRS by Kelley's NTEU, which endorsed President Obama twice and runs a political-action committee (PAC) that has directed 96 percent of its money to Democrats since 2008.

Kelley visited the White House a day before the IRS, according to a report by the Treasury Department Inspector General, established a "sensitive case report" on Tea Party cases.

Kelley also lauded Obama's victories, announcing on the eve of his re-election victory that NTEU would "move forward aggressively," lobbying to raise the pay of federal employees, thwart outsourcing of federal government work to lower-cost contractors and limit employee contributions to their own pensions.

When first announcing the legislation in June, Finance Committee Chairman, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Ut.) said that 200 IRS employees worked full-time for Kelley's NTEU union, costing taxpayers $27 million per year.

"That’s $27 million in a single year paid out to “employees” of the federal government who did nothing but union work," Hatch said. "That’s simply preposterous. If the American people understood that this type of fleecing of the taxpayers goes on every day, they’d be outraged.  

An IRS spokesperson told the American Media Institute, “as a general rule, we do not comment on pending legislation.”

Kelly's replacement, Tony Reardon, told the American Media Institute in a written statement, “Internal Revenue Service employees are dedicated and committed public servants who perform vital work for our country. No bipartisan report, including the bipartisan Senate Finance Committee report and reports by the Treasury Inspector General, has ever found any evidence of political motivation on the part of IRS employees.” 

Committee member Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, was not immediately available for comment but did say though his press department that he, too, is against the Republican proposal.