President’s Budget Staff Wants to Unionize

When I worked at the United States Budget Bureau in 1965-66 right after grad school in public administration at the University of Michigan, there was a period just before the budget went to the printer that employees worked very long hours.

Apparently my successors still do.

Fox News reports that over half now want to join a union. I guess they want to be paid overtime.

I wonder if they will be willing to be paid undertime for the days right after the budget goes to bed when they have nothing to do.

My senior budget examiner Roger Adkins told me to go through the files.

Now, that was interesting.

No, I mean it.

I found a memo that recommended the 1964 Democratic Party’s Small Business Platform.

Apparently, a Civil Service employee had done Democratic Party work.

That stuck me as improper.

In an orientation session, new employees were told that President Lyndon Johnson was the first President who had used the Budget Bureau throughout the year.

That, of course, made sense because of the budget examiners’ connections with their agencies. Mine was the Small Business Administration.

And, when this 23-year old called his contacts at the SBA, they never knew whether if was the new guy asking a question or whether he (that is, his boss) had been asked to inquire on behalf of a White House staffer.

Very heady stuff.

There was also the perk of having an office next to the White House.

Where I worked was called the Executive Office Building. Now it's been re-named the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.

When I went to visit in 1972, I walked up the steps of the Old War Department Building and found the budget folks had been displaced by an expanding White House staff.


They were then located a block away n a high rise behind Blair House. Security was by rent-a-cop, rather that Federal employees.

There was one other perks..

One day, President Johnson needed a Greek chorus for some visiting dignitary.
So we got to spend part of our lunch hour in the Rose Garden.

Sometimes I wonder what my life’s course would have been had I not come back to run for McHenry County Treasurer when my father, who had almost beaten the McHenry County Board Chairman for the GOP nomination for the newly-created post of County Auditor, told me he wasn’t going to run for County Treasurer and I might be interested. (I flew home, met the announced candidates, Harvard Police Chief Gene Brewer and Hartland Township Supervisor Ray Murphy, who also served on the McHenry County Board by virtual of being a township supervisor, and decided I was as competent as they.)

Mr. Lawrence, the man who interviewed me, knew that I was a Republican. He asked Roger if he could work with a Goldwater Republican and Roger, being quite a jovial fellow whom I believe could have worked with anyone, said he could..

I’m pretty sure that I was the only out-in-the-open Republican in the building. Every once in a while another staffer would approach me in the hall and confess that he or she was a Republican, too. One. A girl a bit older than I, took me to a party attended by economist John Kenneth Galbraith. Standing by the sink, he looked perfectly ordinary.. I’m pretty sure that was the one next to the Russia Embassy.

Then there was the SBA Budget Officer Hoadley. (Probably spelling his name wrong.) After he heard that I was going to run for McHenry County Treasurer, he pulled open his bottom drawer one day and showed me a six-pack of Goldwater, a drink marketed by some company during the 1964 election.

When Nixon came into office in 1968, I figure there would have been some upward mobility.

But, back to the reason for this article.

The Budget Bureau is now called the Office of Management and Budget. (So much for tradition.)

And over half of its members no longer consider themselves professionals.

They want union protection from onerous working conditions, it seems. This “a highly educated and professional group,” as union spokesman Peter Winch describes them want more appreciation.

Doesn’t everyone?

Most could probably get an agency job paying more money, as I was offered by the SBA, but I guess they love their workaholic jobs too much to leave.

Think the employees of the Illinois Office of Management and Budget will follow suit?


President’s Budget Staff Wants to Unionize — 2 Comments

  1. Did Office of Management and Budget employees seek the union?

    Or did the union approach OMB empoyees?

    I don’t see a good reason why we need public sector employee unions.

    I do see all kinds of perks the union employees are getting that is not possible in the private sector.

    I get the impression from what Cal is saying, the employees sometimes work long hours, sometimes short hours. If it all evens out in the end, I don’t see the problem.

  2. Heck, I’d like to unionize too – “Taxpayers who are broke supporting unions”

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