Larry Gibbs commented on a proposal to end National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) representation at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and its impact on workforce morale and service difficulties for tax practitioners and taxpayers. The GOP suggested the proposal to add IRS employees to the list of federal agencies not entitled to union representation under the Federal Labor-Management Relations Statute in a recent addendum to the Senate Finance Committee's report on the exempt organizations controversy. "I've never even thought about this at all," said Gibbs, a former IRS Commissioner. "I had no trouble at all with the union when I was there. I mean none."
Gibbs said the union makes its presence felt not only in pay and bonus negotiations but also in areas such as employee training and workplace safety, labor-management relations and initiatives such as the push for total quality management processes that were popular in the federal government in the 1980s and 1990s. "I think many people believe that the union and management never agree. That's simply not true. I'd say that it's more often that on big issues like that, the union and management agree," he said.
Gibbs said he experienced a politicized IRS when he worked at the agency under the Nixon administration and noted that he saw little or none of that political interference when Ronald Reagan nominated him to be Commissioner in 1986. "I would find it strange based on my experience really both times [at the IRS] that there would be any significant partisan political attitude in the IRS [today]," he said. "Maybe it's changed. I've been away from it a long time."