In an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Herman Cain said he supports the "right" for public employees to bargain collectively. In other words, he is in favor of unions on the taxpayer dime. Cain also said federal workers have unions, meaning the right to collectively bargain, but they do not.
On the issue of collective bargaining, Cain said he supported the right of public employees to bargain collectively.
"But not collective hijacking. What I mean by that, if they have gotten so much for so many years and it's going to bankrupt the state, I don't think that's good. It appears that in some instances, they really don't care."
Asked about last week's vote in Ohio, in which the state's new collective bargaining law was rejected by voters, Cain said that "maybe they tried to get too much and as a result it failed."
Asked if the Ohio Legislature had gone too far in stripping collective bargaining rights for public employees, including fire and police personnel, Cain said that Ohio legislators "may have tried to get too much in one bill."
Ohio's collective bargaining law differed from Wisconsin in at least one key aspect: Wisconsin exempted police and fire personnel from the law.
In an interview with the Journal Sentinel last month, Cain said that he was "right in the corner of Gov. Scott Walker 100%" in Walker's battle with public employee unions.
Cain also appeared to be unclear on the issue of collective bargaining as it involves federal employees. Asked if he thought federal employees should have the ability to bargain collectively, Cain said: "They already have it, don't they?"
Told they didn't, he said, "They have unions."
The American Federation of Government Employees, which represents 600,000 federal government workers in 65 agencies, says that most federal employees don't have collective bargaining over pay and benefits.
With the economy in Wisconsin improving significantly since Governor Walker's union policies were put into place, Cain's comments are disappointing, not to mention inaccurate. The fact that Cain made these comments in Wisconsin, ground zero for the battle against public sector union greed, makes things even worse. His comments are also contradictory to a speech he made in Madison at a tea party rally back in February in support of Governor Walker. So which one is it? Is Cain for or against public sector unions? It's not exactly a topic a presidential candidate shouldn't have a clear answer on.