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Mitch Daniels calls public unions ‘privileged elite’

CINCINNATI – Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels has called public unions “the privileged elite” during a speech in Ohio.

Daniels’ state faces a political standoff over issues including labor legislation. He told a crowd at a county GOP dinner in Cincinnati on Wednesday night that public jobs and salaries went up while private jobs were lost and that private sector salaries have shrunk.

The Cincinnati Enquirer reported that Daniels said there might have been a time when government employees needed protection and reform, but that was a long time ago.

Public employee rights are a hot issue in Ohio, with a bill proposing to restrict collective bargaining for state workers.

Considered a potential 2012 presidential contender, Daniels stressed he wasn’t making a stump speech. His comments about public employee unions got strong applause.