Politics

Barbour to Obama: Why don’t you let federal employees collectively bargain?

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour said he stands behind fellow Republican Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin in his battle against public sector unions, and knocked President Obama for supporting the protests while presiding over millions of federal workers who cannot collectively bargain.

Obama recently voiced support for state workers and labor groups in Wisconsin, who have been protesting a bill that would would force them to pay more into their pensions and for health care, and end collective bargaining for public workers.

Barbour, a potential 2012 presidential contender who met with the president this week at a White House governors meeting, didn’t call Obama a hypocrite outright, but he came close.

“The fact of the matter is, the president told us at the White House that he had unilaterally frozen spending for federal employees. Federal employees don’t have collective bargaining rights,” Barbour told reporters during an event at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Wednesday. “The idea you guys have given the country is it’s just like there’s some constitutional right to collective bargaining. About half the states either don’t have it at all – my state does not have collective bargaining – or they limit it. The federal employees are not allowed to have collective bargaining for pay, for pensions, for health care.”

While labor unions that represent federal workers do have some collective bargaining rights, provisions in the Civil Service Reform Act passed under President Carter in 1978 restrict federal employees from using it for pay or pensions and federal workers cannot be forced into a union or required to pay dues.

Barbour has said he plans to announce his plans for a presidential run sometime in April.

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