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Gov. Scott's evolving position on Florida labor law and collective bargaining

Days after Gov. Rick Scott told a Tallahassee radio station that he was supportive of collective bargaining, he now says he wish it wasn't allowed in Florida.

Scott's original remarks came in a half-hour interview on WFLA FM Radio on Tuesday in which he referred to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. (Just as Walker is mentioning Scott.) “Walker is trying to eliminate collective bargaining,” Scott said. "My belief is, as long as people know what they're doing, collective bargaining is fine." He added, however: "as long as people know what they're voting for."

On Friday, Scott gave an interview with Bloomberg TV in Washington, D.C. and changed his tune. While Florida's Constitution protects workers from being compelled to join a union, it also protects unionworkers by guaranteeing their right to collective bargaining. Scott acknowledged the constitutional protections, but announced he'd now would like to see the constitution changed.

“It’d be great to be able to change it,'' Scott said, according to a preview of the interview posted on the Bloomberg web site. “Our state workers don’t pay for anything into their pension plan. And we can’t afford that -- it’s not fair to taxpayers. If you didn’t have collective bargaining, would it be better for the state? Absolutely.”

What a difference a week -- of national attention directed at another governor -- makes. For another take on this issue, read former New York Times reporter David Cay Johnston's criticism of the way the media has covered the collective bargaining dust up in Wisconsin. His point: Walker, and Florida Gov. Scott for that matter, are wrong when they say that workers don't pay for their retirement accounts.

"Out of every dollar that funds Wisconsin' s pension and health insurance plans for state workers, 100 cents comes from the state workers,'' writes the award-winning journalist on his web site,

"How can that be? Because the "contributions" consist of money that employees chose to take as deferred wages – as pensions when they retire – rather than take immediately in cash. The same is true with the health care plan. If this were not so a serious crime would be taking place, the gift of public funds rather than payment for services.

"Thus, state workers are not being asked to simply "contribute more" to Wisconsin' s retirement system (or as the argument goes, "pay their fair share" of retirement costs as do employees in Wisconsin' s private sector who still have pensions and health insurance). They are being asked to accept a cut in their salaries so that the state of Wisconsin can use the money to fill the hole left by tax cuts and reduced audits of corporations in Wisconsin."