Poll: Majority oppose stripping govt. workers bargaining rights
February 23rd, 2011
09:32 AM ET
11 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. Al

    Scott Walker your goose is cooked!

    February 23, 2011 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  2. paul

    Collective bargaining helps to assure that workers have safe conditions, are treated fairly, and give workers a seat at the table. Most Republican governors are trying to paint that as a BAD thing. Why? If they have agreed to concessions in wages to help out the budget problem most of the governors created themselves, at least you can give decent hard working people a say.

    February 23, 2011 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  3. Grundoon

    Tax breaks for the rich and corporations get made up off the backs of American middle class workers. Nice work GOP . . . NOT. I'm not as upset with those that voted them in, you can expect a rat to be a rat, but I am furious with the Dems that stayed home on election day. That's the reall reason why the GOP made the gains they did. That election was no mandate.

    February 23, 2011 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  4. Ha Ha !

    Thank you GOP for painting yourselves into a corner with this ! People are finally starting to remember why they got rid of the GOP majority in the first place ! It was because you are heartless, souless, vampires that would have no problem destroying the middle class as long as the rich benefit ! Keep it up GOP ! You are supposed to be focused on job creation but haven't made one move to do so ! It's because you never had a plan for job creation at all !

    February 23, 2011 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  5. JennyTX

    Time for that hateful Republican governor of Wisconsin to listen to the people.

    February 23, 2011 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  6. betterdays

    Too bad. In Ohio, Wisconsin, Indiana, the unions could not spend enough to keep a majority of Democrats in the state legislatures. They lost. Now the losing side won't even show up to cast their loser votes.

    When you have every manipulative advantage at your disposal (unions, press, blogosphere) and the voters still see past your games, it might be time to admit that the gravy train is running out of gravy.

    February 23, 2011 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  7. Ben

    Were these survey respondents fully educated and informed as to how government operates? The state is bankrupt like 35 other ones......if the tax revenue isn't there, then the government scales back everything. Not that difficult to understand. I wonder if the phone surveyors were really looking for an emotionally based response to perpetuate in the leftist media......

    February 23, 2011 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  8. Former Republican - Now Independent

    Quite simply, people like Governor Scott Walker believe themselves to be the aristocracy of the United States and want us peasants to shut up and go away.

    The Republican-Tea Party leadership doesn't listen to the people, they tell the people what to believe.

    February 23, 2011 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  9. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    Private company employees have every right to organize and utilize collective bargaining when dealing with employers. These same rights are not enumerated for government employees except by the rules established by whatever governing council is responsible for their employment. Because of this you have the Federal Government which denies some non-military employees the rights to collective bargaining, even though it grants them to others. In addition, we have 50 states and the territories with their own rules, and in some cases, those states have granted individual municipalities the permission to establish their own independent bargaining rights.
    Now, whatever rights that had been established by those state and municipal workers are being reevaluated for their relevance in today's economy. While I agree with some arguments on both sides, what happens when the governments determine that fewer fire fighters or SWAT team members are required to respond to a call? What happens when the governments determine that EMTs do not require recertification training?

    February 23, 2011 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  10. Bob in PA

    Yeah right !
    Want to keep collective bargining, then AFSCME and other Unions need to give up the right to make political donations and campaign. It is a huge conflict of interest.

    February 23, 2011 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  11. Jerry

    I do not think 1000 people is a very good sampling. It is amazing how many news agencyies are running with this and proclaming Americans want the unions. Why not take a poll of hundred thousand and then see what the results are. Wy not put it on the next ballot and see what the people really think.

    February 23, 2011 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  12. vic nashville tn

    They don’t care what we think. All the republicans states on a mission to implement Glen Beck and Rush Limbaugh agendas
    We learn never miss the election day

    February 23, 2011 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  13. Jess C.

    The GOP has never cared about what the majority wants, do you think they will start now? Fat chance.

    February 23, 2011 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  14. Tim

    When we non-union private sector working stiffs were getting wages frozen, benefits watered down and pensions taken away, did the unions or public sector employees come to our defense? I don't recall it. So why are we supposed to be so up in arms to protect them, especially in the public sector where preserving their deal probably means the private sector grunt who has been falling behind for a decade or more gets nothing more than a higher tax bill for their troubles?

    February 23, 2011 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  15. Bill

    Gallup should also ask Illinoians how they feel about the WI and IN cowards running to their state.

    February 23, 2011 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  16. jpmichigan

    Whether you belong to a union or not all employee can barging with an employer for more benefits or increase in wages. But common sense will show that whether public (government) or private (businesses) can only give individuals what they have or can afford. If what unions are asking of the employer is more than they can give, some employee will suffer and will face the unemployment lines, while union leadership still collect their pay and benefits at the expense of the membership. This is why union membership is down and at times collective bargaining is out of controll.

    February 23, 2011 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  17. gt

    true ... but just like most unions they need to have skin in the game...

    February 23, 2011 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  18. ThinkAgain

    That's because the majority of Americans have seen through the Republicans' empty lies rhetoric about "fiscal responsibility".

    Republicans don't mind raising the deficit by $780 BILLION to give the rich their tax breaks – which don't create jobs at home and people like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet (two guys who know about being wealthy) were against. But they (the Republicans) sure are quick to try to not only cut programs that directly help the average American, but also want to take away working folks' ability to bargain for fair wages.

    Why don't the Republicans just man up and admit they're trying to turn our country into a third-world nation where the top 2% own everything, the Middle Class is virtually non-existent and the rest of us live in poverty?

    Republicans have also shown their willingness to

    February 23, 2011 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  19. Texasoil

    Why don't you get it right. They will still have the right to bargain. What they wont have is the right to make a person join a union to get a job. The real rights are in the right to work law. It states a person has the right to CHOOSE to join the union. Unions control the workers. They create a list and put certain people on top of that list for the best jobs. So if you support Republicans they will bump you to the bottom of the list. It also breeds nepotism. Basically if you brown nose or if your family and you are strong supporters of the democrats and unions you will have the first pick of the best jobs. Now where are the rights there? The job should go to the best qualified person. Without the choice where are the rights?

    February 23, 2011 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  20. from MI

    I notice that CNN chooses it's words very carefully to depict the policies that they dont like as worse, 61% vs. seven out of ten.... Anyone knows that numbers and that one is higher, yet one sounds harsher. Also we need to cut somewhere AND streamline our taxes. Why must people cling to the gov't for everything, our gov't workers need to be able to take paycuts and job losses like the rest of the country. WE (the US) aren't doing well right now financially. If my personal finances aren't doing well and I have 3 homes, 6 cars, 2 trucks, and a few toys, and I am complaining that I need to get a new job (raise taxes) to for my stuff, what would most people say? No, I need to sell a few things (cut funding) and live within my means (fiscal responsibility).

    February 23, 2011 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  21. jakinak

    Unfortunately for CNN the American people are going to see this for what it is, a feeble attempt to convince people that they have to support Jesse Jackson's and Dick Durbin's view of "worker's rights" if they want to be on the winning side. Look for more heart warming stories of poor teachers that give their all for the kids to portray NEA members as devoted, selfless professionals who deserve our support.

    February 23, 2011 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  22. Gobama!

    Unions will give up the right to make political contributions when corporations do.

    February 23, 2011 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  23. Enough is Enough

    Public secter unions should be illegal. Politicians are supose to represent the taxpayers, when they are elected with union money they put the welfare of union members before that of taxpayers. Think about it politicians decide how much of your money to take and then hand your to the union members they are beholden to. Thank the unions for keeping bad teachers in the class room. To find out more about bad teachers do a search on- Dance of the lemons.

    February 23, 2011 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  24. ConservaFascists

    The fascists republican governors do not give a crap about the working people. Their priority is to crush the unions since the unions are the #1 source of campaign funding for democrats. I saw a sign at the protest yesterday that read:

    FBI – Investigate Walker & Koch Brothers

    I think that protester has a legitimate point. Dictator Walker is a bought and sold for governor. The SCOTUS needs to be investigated as well for passing that controversial Citizens United ruling.

    February 23, 2011 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  25. proud mother of soldier

    If you are in favor of public workers unions, then please do not complain about tax increases. Their unrealistic demands in our economic times are driving people to say enough is enough. It is time for these people to face the same reality as every other citizen working in the private sector. Unions are NOT the organizations they began as and have evolved into political, power hungry, controlling groups. It is time for every state to follow Wisconsin's lead! Let these workers walk off the job....there are plenty of people willing to work.

    February 23, 2011 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
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