Poll: Majority oppose stripping govt. workers bargaining rights
February 23rd, 2011
09:32 AM ET
12 years ago

Poll: Majority oppose stripping govt. workers bargaining rights

Washington (CNN) - A majority of Americans say they oppose attempts to take away the collective bargaining rights of public unions, according to a new national poll.

A USA Today/Gallup survey released Wednesday indicates that 61 percent of the public would oppose a move in their state to pass a bill that would take away some of the collective bargaining rights of union government workers, with one in three saying they'd support such a move.

The poll's release comes as thousands of protesters rallied for the second straight week outside the Wisconsin state capitol, upset with Gov. Scott Walker's plan to limit collective bargaining rights for public-sector employees. The Republican governor, who was elected last November, says his plan is necessary to reduce his state's budget deficit, but pro-union groups say the governor is trying to curb long-held labor rights under a guise of fiscal responsibility.

Fourteen Democratic state senators have fled Wisconsin over the past week to keep the chamber from having a quorum needed to vote on the legislation.

The survey indicates a partisan divide on the issue, with nearly eight in ten Democrats and more than six in ten independent voters opposed to the move, but Republicans by a 54 to 41 percent margin supporting such a move.

According to the poll, 53 percent of Americans would also oppose a move to reduce pay and benefits the state provides for government workers to reduce the budget deficit, with 44 percent backing the idea.

The survey indicates that the public's split over whether government worker unions are helpful or harmful, with 45 percent saying such unions are helpful to the states where they exist, and 46 percent saying they are harmful.

More than seven out of ten people questioned say they oppose an increase in state sales, income, or other taxes to help reduce their state's budget deficit.

The USA Today/Gallup poll was conducted February 21, with 1,000 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus four percentage points.

–Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn

Filed under: Poll • Scott Walker
soundoff (62 Responses)
  1. kyle

    This is all about busting the union and their right to bargin, so in the future they can eleminate their healthcare, and pension all together.

    February 23, 2011 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  2. Airdoc

    More lies to rile up the non-thinking CNN watchers. Where was this poll taken? At the location where the teachers are illegally striking and the bussed in SEIU protestors? All other polls are the exact opposite.

    February 23, 2011 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  3. Jilli

    But...but...but...the republicans are listening to "the people"!

    Too bad "the people" they're listening to are the Koch brothers and the groups spun off of Allen-Bradley and the Birchers.

    February 23, 2011 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  4. Anonymous

    Ya know, I think the Democrats and Astro-Turfers are right about one thing- this is what Democracy looks like. The will of the Wisconsin populace was to curb spending. They elected people who promised to do that to their respective chambers, Assembly and Senate. Those elected officials are getting the job done, or at least trying to. That's what Democracy looks like. That's what it is. What the Democrats, Unions and Astro-Turfers are doing respresents how they govern, what they think and what behavior is acceptable to them. Reminds me of some of what we're seeing in the Middle East. The people want change and those in 'power' won't allow it. This is what their form of government would look like. Thwart the will of the people through any means available. Therefore, the choice of what form of government one would enjoy living under is really kinda clear. I choose Democracy.

    February 23, 2011 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  5. Allan

    Jerry, obviously you don't know ANYTHING about statistics. A random sample of 1000 people gives you a margin of error of the general population of plus or minus a little over 3%. To get around plus or minus 2% of the overall population, the sample size jumps to 2400. And around 10,000 are needed for an error or plus or minus 1%. Really? that much work for 2? and you talk about unions causing waste.

    February 23, 2011 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  6. DIANA

    What a coincidence that the since the Supreme Court made their rulings that companies have the same rights as individuals, now that they could get their big contributors, Republicans want to get rid of the only big contributers to Democrats.

    I hope those who didn't vote this past November are proud of themselves.

    February 23, 2011 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  7. Buzzwad

    History repeats itself. Wait a decade or two. Corporate America is sitting on more money than ever. Over 1.8 trillion dollars. Do you really think they ever pay a fair wage if they don't have to? Just remember why unions came about, because the company owned your home, and the only store in town. You worked in miserable unsafe conditions. These people want to dismantle the EPA (remember the Love Canal), MSHA, OHSA, pensions, workers comp, health insurance, unions, basically the middle class. Don't listen to this GOP BS. Less than 1% of the costs of health insurance is do to malpractice lawsiuts, but they would have you believe, it's what keeps the cost of Health insurance skyrocketing.

    February 23, 2011 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  8. texasoil

    The way the poll question is stated is bias. The RIGHT TO WORK BILL does not strip collective bargaining . It just gives a person the right to choose if he or she wants to be in a union. Since unions are used by the democrats. I an independent would not like my dues going to strictly democrats or republicans. my dues should be going to my benefits so my pension plan would not be in a hole like they are. the unions have became a arm of the democrats just like a PAC. The democrats use them just like the unions use the democrats. And the hypocrisy of it is ridiculous.

    February 23, 2011 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  9. ThinkAgain

    For years, I lived in a town whose economy was so bad, it was an employers' market, through-and-through. Companies paid the lowest possible wages and provided the least amount of benefits they could, regardless of the company's profits – because they knew most people were stuck.

    If it weren't for unions, our whole country would be an employer's market – and we'd all be screwed.

    February 23, 2011 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  10. Peace

    Am waiting to see how the voice of one person (Scott Walker), can overpower thousands voices. If it will, why not declaring dictatorship is alive in full swing.

    February 23, 2011 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  11. Drew Williams

    What if I'm being told that I must cut my standard of living and make sacrifices because a part of my paycheck really does have to go to someone else's financial support? If you think I'm talking about the teachers unions and their 50K a year salaries, you'd be dead wrong. Scott Walker and the Republican legislature here in Wisconsin passed three bills into law that gives tax breaks to corporations and individuals earning over $300K, and adds $117 million to the state deficit. That's MY money going to the support of the wealthy, and it's up to them to decide if it ever "trickles" back down or not. Wisconsin - the new corporate welfare state.

    February 23, 2011 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  12. Russ

    Collective bargaining at the Governmental level is full of flaws. It must be limited unless the taxpayers can get involved. We are the ones footing the bill. If the Government doesn't have the money to pay for all the benefits and wages won by collective bargaining then what good is it? They have to ask us the taxpayers to ante up to pay the tab. No money, no pay, no job. It's pretty damn simple. Where do these bargaining agents propose to get the money to pay their outlandish wages and benefit packages?

    February 23, 2011 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
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