After Wisconsin, bold talk by Republicans about ending public-sector unions

Other GOP governors have tried what Scott Walker accomplished in Wisconsin, some successfullyl, some not.


In Ohio, Governor John Kasich's plan to to curb rights of public employees lost badly at the polls last year when it was proposed as a statewide referendum.


But Indiana's Mitch Daniels was successful years ago in cracking down on collective bargaining for state workers, and he told Fox News Sunday that he does believe that Walker's victory "means some kind of turning point in trying to redress the balance" of benefits that state workers have traditionally earned vs. the private sector.


?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. ... Money is being devoured by very high salaries, almost bulletproof job protection and huge pensions,? he said.


Asked whether he believes that there should be no public worker unions, Daniels said yes.


?I really think government works better without them. I really do,? he said, adding later that ?absolutely there?s a place in the private sector.?


On the other news programs on Sunday, executives from organized labor or their supporters were called to explain what happened in Wisconsin.


Perhaps their best surrogate was Martin O'Malley, the Democratic governor from Maryland. On Face The Nation he said the biggest takeaway out of Wisconsin was that 60 percent of the people there did not believe recall elections were the proper forum for policy differences, "short of some criminal offense."


He then added the zinger that "right now, Governor Walker has had only three people in his administration indicted."


On Fox News Sunday, the leader of the country's largest union, Dennis Van Roekel from the National Educators, ultimately agreed with O'Malley's analysis.


VAN ROEKEL: I think it's part of divide and conquer. The reason they went after the public sector unions and left private sector alone is part of the things to trying to drive a wedge between people.


I also understand that unions are not monolithic.


But I also understand that when you're outspent seven to one, 68 percent of all of the people saw more ads for Walker than Barrett, I understand their message from the corporate side has been heard better than the one from the common every day workers.


WALLACE: This was the biggest issue in Wisconsin for more than a year. You don't think ? certainly you are right that the Walker side had more money and ads. But the vast majority of people, the exit polls showed that vast majority made up their minds more than a month before the election. They knew what the issues were here.


VAN ROEKEL: One of the big differences between Wisconsin and Ohio ? in Ohio, the policy of taking bargaining rights, the voice ? just the ability to get fairness from the employer at he table, that was voted down by the citizens two to one.


WALLACE: That was private unions.


VAN ROEKEL: No, no, no, it was public sector. But it's on a policy question. In Wisconsin, it was a recall, which is very different. Sixty percent of the exit poll, people said that they didn't believe recalls should be used to oust someone just on political beliefs. So, that was a difficult hurdle to overcome even from day one.

  • Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels

In the aftermath of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's success at keeping his job for at least another two years — a vote prompted by anger over his reform of collective bargaining rights for public sector employees last year — lots of questions are being asked about organized labor's future in America, raising potentially serious implications for the Democratic party.

One of the best mainstream commentators on labor issues, the American Prospect's Harold Meyerson, wondered whether the result would "embolden other Republican governors to go down this path."

But here in Florida, that is so 2011. A year ago, a bill sponsored by state Senator John Thrasher (strongly supported by Governor Rick Scott) would have required public employee union members' permission to use dues money for politics, as well bar the state or any community from deducting union dues from workers’ paychecks and forwarding that money to unions.

That legislation died when some fellow Republicans (such as Jim Norman) teamed up with Democrats to kill the bill. However, Scott and the GOP did pass legislation requiring state workers to contribute 3 percent of their salaries toward pension costs (a measure which was struck down by a judge earlier this year).

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