the practice of requiring an employer to hire unnecessary employees, to assign unnecessary work, or to limit production according to a union rule or safety statute: Featherbedding forced the railroads to employ firemen on diesel locomotives.

1920–25; feather + bedding

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verb (used with object), verb (used without object), featherbedded, featherbedding.
to subject to or engage in featherbedding.

1945–50; back formation from featherbedding

Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
featherbedding (ˈfɛðəˌbɛdɪŋ)
the practice of limiting production, duplicating work, or overmanning, esp in accordance with a union contract, in order to prevent redundancies or create jobs

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

featherbedding definition

The practice of forcing an employer to hire more workers than are needed for a job.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences
When every joke about your business mentions featherbedding, you should be
  worried about outsourcing.
In short: less featherbedding of their party's paymasters be they trade unions
  or big business.
He has been withering in his criticism of the featherbedding that has
  bankrupted the state.
We're probably also number one in featherbedding officials.
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