Union Busters Say Gov. Mitch Daniels Doesn’t Know How To Bust

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March 23, 2011 5:19 a.m.
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As he struggles to get his legislative year back on track after state House Democrats shut it down five weeks ago, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) is facing a harsh assault from the anti-union right, which is accusing him of “running scared” from organized labor advocates.

It’s a strange position for the virulently anti-union Daniels to be in.

“Big Labor Democrats may have fled to Illinois,” a newspaper ad from the National Right To Work Committee that ran yesterday in Indiana reads. “But it’s you who have been selling out.”(View the ad here.)

NRTW says the newspaper ad is just the first salvo in an ad campaign aimed at Daniels and Indiana state House Speaker Brian Bosma (R) that will also reach TV and radio. Meanwhile, Republican state leaders are already under attack from a week-long ad campaign run by national Democrats.

NRTW is about as anti-union as they come. The group’s motto, from their website, reads: “No one should be forced to pay tribute to a union in order to get or keep a job.” Normally, it might be reasonable to assume Daniels and the Republicans in Indiana would be among the NRTW’s favorite elected officials. Daniels eliminated the right of state workers to collectively bargain on his first day in office, and Bosma is a leading figure in a state legislature hell-bent on changing Indiana into a right-to-work state.

But the NRTW says Daniels and Bosma have fallen down on the job, after pressure from unions and their allies in the Democratic party. Five weeks ago, 39 of the 40 Democrats in the state House fled to Illinois, denying the majority Republicans the quorum they need to pass any legislation and shutting down the right to work bill. Daniels called on Republicans to drop the right to work bill, in order to bring the Democrats home, and they obliged.

But Democrats stayed away anyway, saying that the Daniels agenda (including an aggressive school reform program that will grant private school vouchers to public school students across the state) needs to be changed before they’ll come back to Indiana and let the legislative calendar roll on.

The NRTW is fed up, and is calling on Daniels and Bosma to call in the big guns.

“To force the Democrats to come back to work, you should impose a $10,000 per day fine on each missing legislator until they return to Indianapolis,” the group says in the ad. “If they still don’t return, you should take out liens on their property to force them to do the job they were elected to do.”

Republicans recently instituted daily fines against the AWOL Democrats, but they’re currently at $350 per day.

In a statement distributed to reporters yesterday, NRTW president Mark Mix said Daniels may as well be a labor organizer with the way he’s behaving.

“If Speaker Bosma and Governor Daniels continue their policy of appeasement, they will
be as much to blame as the Democrats for killing Right to Work by their refusal to stand up and fight,” he said in the statement. “Time is past due for Governor Daniels and Speaker Bosma to show leadership and pass Right to Work instead of sabotaging it.”

Despite multiple attempts to schedule an interview, officials at NRTW were unable to make Mix available to TPM yesterday.

This isn’t the first time that Daniels — a potential contender for the White House in 2012 — has found himself on the wrong side of a classic Republican constituency group. His continued call for a social issues “truce” to focus on fiscal policy has made him persona non grata among the Republican social conservative base, despite Daniels’ strong pro-life history.

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