When Gov. Mitch Daniels took office in 2005, he wasted little time in undoing what Bayh had done. Did it save Indiana any money? It’s hard to tell. Did he win points with state employees? Not exactly.
But over time, wage and benefit issues have a way of recurring in the public arena. Before collective bargaining in 1988, wages for Logansport State Hospital employees were usually an annual issue with local residents, primarily because the hospital was and is one of the area’s major employers. The same can be said for Indiana Department of Correction employees. IDOC employs hundreds of employees at the Miami County Correctional Facility and at juvenile detention centers in Logansport.
As Indiana’s economy rebounds, finding and retaining the best candidates for state jobs will likely become more difficult. The churn of state employees in some positions has always been an issue because wages in some cases are usually higher in the private sector. The Indiana Department of Environmental Management frequently experiences turnover because of it.
Maintaining competitive salaries for state employees will particularly be an issue for families with more than one income from the state.
In some cases, many spouses may be working a second jpb because one income isn’t enough anymore.
Whether John Gregg or Mike Pence take a position on the issue, it’s incumbent upon media in a race without incumbents to pin down both candidates on their respective positions. Repealing provisions of collective bargaining was not a campaign platform for Walker or Daniels, yet candidates have a way of changing priorities once they’re elected.
To avoid the media circus Wisconsinites have just experienced, Hoosiers should demand better of their candidates now so that Indiana voters can deliberate their own perceived merits and drawbacks of collective bargaining for state employees.
• Dave Kitchell is a columnist for the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached through the newspaper at email@example.com.