Indiana gov. calls public unions 'privileged elite'

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) reversed his rhetoric on public unions Wednesday, calling their members a "privileged elite" who don't need more protection.

"There may have been a time when government employees needed protection and needed reform, but that was a long time ago," Daniels said in Ohio, according to The Indianapolis Star.

The comments contrast with those Daniels made on Tuesday, when he was asked about a bill in the Indiana state legislature that would bar unions from negotiating contracts that require non-union members to pay fees.

Protests by union advocates toward anti-union legislation have begun to erupt throughout the Midwest, with the most high profile confrontation taking place in Wisconsin. The Wisconsin protests have garnered national attention with national GOP figures and both President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden weighing in.

At a fundraiser on Wednesday in New York, Biden pushed back on claims that unions are weighing down the economy. Biden said unions were the reason the U.S. has a middle class.

In his speech in Ohio, Daniels took the opposite stance. He said that while unions have grown stronger in recent years, private sector jobs have disappeared.

"Public salaries went up, while private sector salaries are shrinking," Daniels said.