Indiana governor suggests eliminating public-sector unions

Ryan Lovelace Contributor

Indiana Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels advocated eliminating public-sector unions in an interview with Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday.”

“I think, really, government works better without them,” Daniels said just days after Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker survived a recall election forced by Democrats.

Daniels, who in February became the first governor to sign right-to-work legislation in more than a decade, is often credited with restricting the role of unions in the work place.

A labor union in Indiana that previously supported Daniels said he flip-flopped on this issue.

The International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150 claims Daniels sent a letter to former union president William Dugan in 2004 stating that “no need exists to enact a ‘right-to-work’ statute in our state.”

Daniels told Wallace on “Fox News Sunday” that he believes private-sector unions remain “necessary,” while public-sector unions make government less efficient.

Daniels cautioned fellow Republicans against misreading the results of the Wisconsin recall election and said the vote should be seen as an effort to curtail the problems public-sector unions create.

“I think the message is that, first of all, voters are seeing the fundamental unfairness of government becoming its own special interest group, sitting on both sides of the table,” he said.

Dennis Van Roekel, president of the National Education Association, said he believes the message from Wisconsin is that Walker’s victory was in part “a product of unlimited corporate funding in elections.”

Roekel’s belief has been echoed by many on the left, including White House spokesman Jay Carney.

Thea Lee, the AFL-CIO Deputy Chief of Staff, said Americans value both private and public-sector unions.

“When times are tough, people are trying to figure out who’s to blame, but we need to be able to fund our public sector,” Lee said.

Fox News reports that government workers receive an average of $14.31 in benefits per hour, while members of private-sector unions earn an average of $8.53 in benefits per hour.

Walker, appearing on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” said he believes his victory is a sign that voters want “people willing to take on the tough issues.”