Gov. Daniels says government ‘works better without’ public sector unions

Gov. Mitch Daniels (R), who has led his own efforts to roll back public workers' power in Indiana, touted fellow Gov. Scott Walker’s victory in Wisconsin’s recall and said officials could provide better services if the power of public-sector unions were curtailed.

“I think the message is first of all voters are seeing the fundamental unfairness of government becoming its own special interest group sitting on both sides of the table,” Daniels said on “Fox News Sunday.” “I hope it means some kind of turning point in trying to redress the balance.”

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Taxpayers, he said, are tired of paying for public workers who often get better salaries, benefits and job protection than their private-sector counterparts and then vote for politicians who keep those perks in place. Daniels went on to say public sector unions were generally a bad idea.

“I really think government works better without them,” he said. “I really do.”

He, however, denied any intent to weaken public sector unions for political purposes.

“We're not going after anybody,” he said. “We're just going after better government and more jobs for people in our state.”

But labor groups, which suffered a setback when Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett failed to unseat Walker in Tuesday’s Wisconsin vote, countered that the result and other attacks on public workers’ powers were little more than corporate-sponsored efforts to roll back the gains of workers in both the public and private sectors.

 “It really points out the impact of unlimited corporate funding in elections,” said National Education Association President Dennis van Roekel, who claimed unions were outspent seven-to-one in Wisconsin. “The reason they went after public sector unions and left some private sector alone is part of the thing to try to drive a wedge between people.”

Thea Lee, the deputy chief of staff of the AFL-CIO, said the solution to state and local governments' budget woes are higher taxes on rich Americans, not slashing benefits.

“We absolutely could raise taxes,” she said. “And we ought to raise taxes if we need to do that to provide the social services that Americans need and depend on and to make sure that we attracting the very best people into public service.”

Lee also refused to criticize President Obama's decision not to get involved in the recall campaign.

“That's a decision for President Obama,” she said. “I'm not going to second-guess the president.”