This is a rush transcript from “Fox News Sunday,” June 10, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
CHRIS WALLACE, HOST: I’m Chris Wallace.
Public employee unions are under fire across the country.
Wisconsin’s governor survives a recall effort over labor reforms. California voters trim government worker pensions. Is Big Labor losing its clout?
We’ll talk with Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels who has pushed back against labor, Dennis Van Roekel, president of the nation’s largest union, the National Education Association, and Thea Lee of AFL-CIO.
Plus, is someone leaking top U.S. secrets to boost President Obama’s reelection? We’ll ask our Sunday panel what is behind the security breach.
And our power players of the week offer the class of 2012 words of wisdom.
All right now on “Fox News Sunday.”
WALLACE: And hello again from Fox News in Washington.
We may remember this past week as a moment when voters across the country decided public worker unions have too much power and benefits that are too generous. But was it a turning point or just a bump in the road for government workers. Today, we’ll hear from both sides.
We’ll talk with top officials of big labor in a few minutes. But first, from his home state in Indiana, Republican Governor Mitch Daniels who fought and won against the unions.
And, Governor, welcome back to “Fox News Sunday.”
GOV. MITCH DANIELS, R-IND.: Good morning, Chris.
WALLACE: There have been several big developments this week, of course, in Wisconsin, Governor Walker beat back the recall effort. But also in California, two cities — San Diego and San Jose, those voters passed an initiative to cut back on government worker pensions.
Governor, what’s the message?
DANIELS: 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. And they are also noticing with sadness that when fundamental services — education and health care and others are diminished because so much money is devoured by very high salaries and higher than those than the taxpayers are earning and more generous benefits, almost bullet-proof job protection and huge pension.
WALLACE: Is this some sort of a watershed what we are seeing right now. Are voters across the country giving state and local officials a green light to go after or at least curtail public unions?
DANIELS: I hope no one thinks of it that way. I hope it means a turning point in trying to re-address the balance. You know, there is a reason that defenders of labor from Franklin Roosevelt to George Meany to many others, always said that unionism had no place in the public sector and it is a necessary freedom in the private sector, but that it was a bad idea in government.
And I think we have seen through its excesses, the one I just mentioned, now visible to voters almost everywhere that it really needs to be brought under control and the interest of people who pay taxes and who would rather see those taxes, more of them, dollars go to vital services.
WALLACE: Are you saying that you would like to see no public worker unions?
DANIELS: I think really government works better without them. I really do. You know, in our state, we had a 16 year run with so- called collective bargaining. And we did end it.
And I want to say that although it led to the savings of large amount of tax dollars, it was not principally about that. We had 160 pages of shackles really on government’s ability to deliver better. And seven years later we are delivering services. We could never made the reforms tied down to 160 pages of thou shalt not.
WALLACE: Well, give me an example how have services improve since you cut back on the unions.
DANIELS: If you deserve a tax refund, it comes twice as fast it used to. Our state parks are in a dramatically better shape than they were. And if you go to our Bureau of Motor Vehicles last month, you are out in less than 10 minutes and 97 percent of the time when we surveyed them, customers say they are satisfied.
WALLACE: Well, let’s look at what you have done as governor of Indiana. It is a long list. Let’s take a look.
In 2005, you ended collective bargaining rights for state workers on first day in office. In 2011, you restricted teachers bargaining rights. In 2012, this year, you signed a right to work law that said people don’t have to join a union to get a job.
It sounds, Governor, like a pretty concerted effort to break public and private unions.
DANIELS: I don’t see it that way at all. Now, I will say that on the government side, we felt if we were going to do right by taxpayers and if we were going to make government work effectively as it does in Indiana, there was a survey last year in which 77 percent of Hoosiers said they thought the state government was effective. It’s the second highest number in the country. If we do those things we have to have freedom to move resources where they were need, move people where they were needed, pay people on the basis of their performance and not simply their seniority, and we are doing that in the state now, I think to a very positive affect.
Right to work in the private side is a different disagreement, Chris, and there, it is simply a matter of bringing more jobs to the state. Indiana has been winning two-thirds of the time to get a shot at new jobs. We have been rated as one of the best jobs climates in the country by everyone now.
But, there was a very large percentage of the time and a third of all of the opportunities, we didn’t get a shot at because the businesses were their own reasons insisted on this freedom.
So, two separate questions as we saw them — we’re not going after anybody. We’re just going after better government and more jobs for people in our state.
WALLACE: But to take a look at this and all the reforms as you would call it. Government workers in your state have taken a hit. Indiana ranks 46th in state worker gross salary. And public employees in Indiana must pay more for health care coverage than they used to. I mean, they have paid a price because of all of your actions.
DANIELS: I disagree completely. Particularly those who have been rated the best performers and the highest raises by far in state history, in fact, ever in state history. I think we have a fair system now. State workers praise them all of the time. I think the ones that I encounter are rightly proud of the job we are doing.
And as I just mentioned, their fellow citizens appreciate them here in a way that maybe is not the case elsewhere.
WALLACE: But how — what about this figure I just gave you. Indiana ranking 46 in the 50 states in state worker gross salary.
DANIELS: I don’t know where they come from and I’ve never seen them before. I can’t comment on them.
WALLACE: I mean, have in fact — you know, we have a lot of information in terms of gross salary and in terms of the cost to the state worker and health care benefits that those have gone up a lot?
DANIELS: Well, Chris, all I can tell you that we believe that the most effective state government in America. We have very low turnover, lower than before, among our state employees. Maybe that says something.
We think we have the best health care plan anywhere. It is one which is leading to much lower increases in costs. By the way, 93 percent of Indiana state workers have a health savings account. They are accumulating tens of millions of dollars that they control on those accounts and they are renewing in a high rate — satisfaction rate every year. So, we’re not really believing that we have done anything but improve the lot of Indiana public employees. WALLACE: Let’s take a look, Governor, at the big picture, and it’s almost a philosophical question. Don’t unions have a place in this country and even in the case of state workers, public workers, and with government, to make sure that management, in this case, government, doesn’t run roughshod over them?