Update 12-15: The governor argued in the Star Tribune for major reforms in public pensions, including eliminating the “pay premiums” in the public sector, private sector accounting standards, and 401(k) style retirement instead of defined benefits. Governor Tim PawlentyGovernor Pawlenty argued in the Wall Street Journal today that the moral case for unions–protecting families from exploitation–does not apply to public employees. And notes that many government workers pay and benefits outweigh the private sector, citing the corrupt cycle of government employees paying union dues which are given in turn to politicians who then give government employees greater pay and benefits. “Government employees today are among the most protected, well-paid employees in the country. Ironically, public-sector unions have become the exploiters, and working families once again need someone to stand up for them.”

Pawlenty, a guy from a union family who learned the lessons of honest hard work, also notes that the nature of the work done by government employees does not require union representation. “The majority of union members today no longer work in construction, manufacturing or “strong back” jobs. They work for government, which, thanks to President Obama, has become the only booming “industry” left in our economy. Since January 2008 the private sector has lost nearly eight million jobs while local, state and federal governments added 590,000.”

Here is the governor on Minnesota: “We reworked benefits for new hires. We required existing employees to contribute more to their pensions. We reformed our public employee health plan and froze wages.We proved that even in deep-blue Minnesota, taxpayers can take on big government and big labor, and win.”

We think he has over-stated the pension reforms here in Minnesota but we encourage him to stay with this issue and take it to the national level. We wish he was going to be around for the 2011 session!