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.
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