(CNSNews.com) - It's a "dark day" for Indiana, says the American Federation of Teachers.
The union is upset that Indiana's Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels, on his second day in office, rescinded collective bargaining rights for Indiana's 23,000 state employees, including teachers.
Because Indiana law does not give state workers collective bargaining rights, each governor must sign an executive order allowing those workers to negotiate their pay, benefits, and work rules.
But Daniels, the first Republican governor in 16 year, has not signed such an order.
"Eliminating this executive order is not good government," AFT President Edward McElroy said in a statement. McElroy says collective bargaining gives state employees the "opportunity to improve public services while securing fair treatment on the job."
According to McElroy, collective bargaining benefits taxpayers as much as it does state employees, because "it brings with it higher quality services, more efficient government and improved quality of life for all of Indiana's citizens."
McElroy called Gov. Daniel's move "a leap in the wrong direction," and he said the union "is not going away."
"The AFT is committed to supporting state employees in Indiana, giving them a voice on the job and in the State Legislature," he said. "Our union will continue to represent our members through all means available. Indiana's state employees need representation now more than ever."
Daniels, who was sworn in on Monday, has inherited a projected $600 million budget deficit. He says he will address those budget problems in next week's State of the State address.
In his inaugural address on Monday, Daniels said every Indiana resident must help the state recover.
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