As protests against conservative attempts to strip public employees of their collective bargaining rights have unfolded in states across the nation, a slew of Republican governors have said they will not pursue similar policy steps to those championed by Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI). “That’s not our path,” said Gov. Rick Snyder (R-MI). “I and my administration fully intend to work with our employees and union partners in a collective fashion.” A spokesman for Gov. Tom Corbett (R-PA) added, “This is Pennsylvania, not Wisconsin. We’ve had Act 195 [the collective bargaining law] since 1970, and I anticipate that we will continue to have it.”
Earlier this week, it seemed that Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL) was also unwilling to challenge collective bargaining rights for his state’s employees. “My belief is as long as people know what they’re doing, collective bargaining is fine,” Scott said in a radio interview. However, during a different interview with Bloomberg Television that is scheduled to air this weekend, Scott took a completely different stance, saying “it’d be great” to get rid of the collective bargaining rights of Florida employees:
He said Florida would be better off if public employees couldn’t form unions and that it’s unfair to taxpayers that state workers don’t contribute to their pensions. While Florida’s constitution grants state workers the right to unionize and bargain for workplace rights, Scott said, “It’d be great to be able to change it.”
“Our state workers don’t pay for anything into their pension plan. And we can’t afford that — it’s not fair to taxpayers,” Scott said. “If you didn’t have collective bargaining, would it be better for the state? Absolutely.”
For one thing, as Tax.com’s David Cay Johnston laid out, the notion that Florida’s employees “don’t pay for anything” when it comes to their pensions is wrong: these employees have agreed to defer some of their compensation, and take it in the form of a pension rather than wages. For another, Gov. Mitch Daniels (R-IN) already stripped public employees of their collective bargaining rights, and even he couldn’t explain how it would help a state get into better fiscal shape. (Daniels also can’t quite pin down where he stands on the protest situation in his own state either.)
Scott already plans to pursue an agenda of corporate tax cuts paired with destructive spending reductions that will hurt low-income Floridians, gut the state’s health care system, and cause the loss of tens of thousands of jobs. And after a momentary fit of reason earlier in the week, he seems to have added union-busting to the list.