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. Joe

    Typical CNN liberal bias. This is the first poll of several that showed a majority against Walker. Every previous poll (Rasmussen etc.) showed majorities in favor of eliminating collective bargaining for public employees. Guess which poll gets reported by CNN?

    February 23, 2011 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  2. yokoheight

    So you're tired of being stepped on and always having to look up to others while feeling inferior to them simply because you are of smaller stature. Well your investment in this book could be the answer you've been waiting for.

    February 23, 2011 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  3. Clwyd

    Remember that Scott Walker when your year is up and your recall is made. You are losing the Support for yourself and the republican party in the state. The heck with the Kock Brothers new add that still tries to say that workers must give on on $ and benefits that they have already given in on. Lies will not undo the fact that the Wisconsin Budget Bureau (created and run by republicans) says that there will be a $121,000,000 surplus this year. The costs for security and the fact that the debit bonds will not be refinanced by Friday resulting in a $161,000,000 loss could be avoided if you added compromise to your vocabulary! Heil! Walker

    February 23, 2011 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  4. Ancient Texan

    This poll must have been taken in the DNC Headquarters, since every other poll I've seen is the exact opposite. Unions and government jobs are the reason for the negative fiscal conditions that are prevalent for most of the state governments. Unions exist so that their leaders can funnel huge amounts of money from dues to the Democrats to buy elections, then favor the unions.

    February 23, 2011 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  5. Clwyd

    Bob in Pa. Then the Supreme Court (Robert's Court) needs to stop the unlimited spending and hiding of who contributes to all campaigns. We know where most of the money comes from and it isn't from Mom and Pop people! The Kock Brothers are buying America!

    February 23, 2011 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  6. Four and The Door

    States need to do what they need to do. American families have been learning to live within their means. American business has learned to live within it's means. Now it is time for American governments, City, State and Federal to learn to live within their means. Raising taxes is not the answer. Getting budgets in control is. The Republicans were elected to do that and they are doing it. Finally politicians working for the good of the country and not just focused on taking the easy way out.

    February 23, 2011 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  7. davec.0121

    It's clear to see that "over-paid government workers" have become the new bogey-man of the Republicans. The workers in Wisconsin have agreed, at least in principle, to giving back some of their compensation. However the governor (perhaps driven by visions of even more Koch brothers' money), has made restricting union rights the main issue. That's what the bulk of the protests are about. I'm not a big fan of the way that public unions have behaved, but why shouldn't government workers have the same rights as workers in the private sector?

    February 23, 2011 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  8. bob

    States have a constitutional requirement to balance their budgets unlike the feds who just print more money. So besides taxing the population into oblivion to preserve the rich benefits that public employees have, what are the options? I run a business with 75 employees and we went to and HSA with a $2,500 deductible because there was a 45% increase for the current health plan we had. My employees didn't go on strike or call in sick. The majority of private sector employees and employers do NOT support the unions and their so called bargaining rights. They want a more limited government and for those gutless state legislators that have abandoned their responsibility you will pay next election.

    February 23, 2011 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  9. kat

    I agree with Walker, These people need to be glad they have a job and quit whinning about possibly having to contribute a little to their pensions and health care costs. The Unions while in some cases were needed are now just a bunch of corrupt
    people musing the dues from hard working members to buy what ever they want from dirty Politicians. It's a disgrace and needs to be changed. Our country is going broke paying for this kind of deal and paying for all of our so called entitlements like Welfare,Medicaid and all thee other handout programs that are many times undeserved. Medicare and SSI was paid into buy woprkersd. Welfare just encourages people to lay on their lazy behinds and Not work. Walker and some of the other newloy elected officials have found the courage to start correcting some of our problems. I will continue to support them.

    February 23, 2011 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  10. Charlie in Maine

    I saw a cartoon this morning that intended to send an anti-union message. It was two guys at a bar and one "labeled" public worker said to the other, labeled "private worker". Oh man they are messing with my pension, the private worker said "What's a pension?' I can tell by the editorial that came with it and the general tone of my local right-wing rag that the intent was to say that somehow "unions are not fair." Well that is what corporate America would like for the "commoners" to believe but it is the opposite of the truth. I am sick of the trash being spread. If it were not for united labor this country would be a third world back-water. Don't believe me go visit the "right to work" states where unions have been busted and kept out. Sub-standard working conditions and bad wages alll over the place. Think the unions "get too much"? They are the only thing standing between the average worker and slavery.

    Don't have a pension? You should. Don't get fair wages? You could? Don't have a safe workplace? Sounds like instead of complaining about unions you should be in one. If you don't like the job you have, organize and make it better or quit your whining.

    February 23, 2011 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  11. ThinkAgain

    Why isn't Gov. Walker listening to the people? I thought that's what the GOP was all about!

    While we're on this subject, remember back in 2008 when President Obama was elected and the Democrats took the House and the Senate? That was the people talking, expressing their will for the platform of health care reform, among other things.

    But did the Republicans listen then? No! They've done anything and everything to block President Obama and the Democrats in trying to implement the will of the people. They've tried their best to make President Obama and our country fail.

    The Republicans are full of hot air and don't give a rip about the average American. All they care about is money and power – and the rest of us can go to heck!

    Don't you folks who voted Republican get that you've been had?

    February 23, 2011 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  12. Balls McGhee

    Hey GOP, do you like apples? How do you like them apples!

    February 23, 2011 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  13. diridi

    My dear Fellow Americans, please do not get scared of these elected GOP thugs....tit for tat....As long as you get scared, you are scared....look, what is happening in middle-east.....just be brave, god bless you...work for labor unions, and rights, etc., God bless....GOP thugs are messing this nation....be alert.....

    February 23, 2011 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  14. A True Centrist

    I'd love to see how the questions in this poll were worded, because there is NO WAY these results are valid. I'm not sure how the unions think they are winning this fight. Each day that passes with schools needing to close because the teachers call out sick, the parents/public will get more and more frustrated with the "protests". The teachers, who are paid with our tax dollars, need to get back to work and the doctors who passed out fake sick notes need to be stripped of their liscenses. Let's look at the true effect this is having...parents are being forced to stay home from work and our children are not being educated...all because the average teacher is not happy they are making $70k for 8 months worth of work, and a ridiculous pension that no one in the private sector receives anymore. Get over yourselves, you have milked the system for years and now it's your turn to pay up. I appreciate what you do for a living, I appreciate what you do for our kids but enough is enough!

    February 23, 2011 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  15. Lynda/Minnesota

    Poor, Mr. Dictator wannabee Scott Walker . . . ought to have known better. I have yet to meet many Americans who truly consider being thought of as nothing more than slave labor is a good thing for America. For those who still consider unions as the evil of all evils, I wonder how you will feel when you each reach retirement, only to be told you are no longer a necessary commodity as you are stripped of your retirement pensions. Or are forced to work for pennies on the dollar, stripped of your vacation, over time pay, and the other *entitlements* you've taken for granted over the years. Don't think it can happen to you? It happened to my husband. After 28 years, his union of 150 people was dis-banned, all were layed off, a few rehired as self contractors working for the same job - minus half the pay, no benefits, no over time compensation, and no pension.

    February 23, 2011 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  16. Balls McGhee

    @Texas oil – you know nothing about unions at all. this is made up false claims. wow, i cant believe you made it through the 3rd grade. or did you?

    February 23, 2011 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  17. informed voter

    I stand with my union brothers and sisters across this great nation! It is because of the hard fought for rights of workers by unions that we no longer have sweat shops, slave labor wages and illegal child labor. What Governor Walker is attempting to do is break the unions and turn the clock back to the early 1900s. The workers in WI have conceded to the $$ cuts in their wages and benefits. They should not and will not agree to abdicate their rights to collective bargaining. United we stand!!

    February 23, 2011 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  18. Marcus

    Bob in PA – They'll do it the day the poeple who employ the workers they represent stop making contributions too.

    February 23, 2011 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  19. imho44

    1) You lower taxes for corporations then level the budget by increasing the contributions of middle class government employees. That's called being a Republican.
    2) You use legislation to destroy all the unions that oppose you in the political arena, but make an exception for the one union that supports you. That's called being a Fascist.

    February 23, 2011 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  20. T'sah from Virginia

    You are right about how CNN show numbers and they always MIX them. U R right about "living within your means"!! I do it also and I used to work for the state and now the county. The pay for state/government employees – for the SAME job – is nowhere near what a "private sector" pays. Also, we had to give up 2% of our salary last year – haven't had a raise in over three years – and, yes, I do "continue" to live within my means. But if my wages keep getting “reduced” and the prices of commodities continue to rise – YES, I will get out there and say "enough is enough" and only wish I had someone with “bargaining rights” to stand by me – that’s ALL the middle class have left!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 23, 2011 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  21. BlackPanthers2020

    I lot of you are missing the point , republicans are basically trying to marginalized the democratic party so they can hold onto thier political power even if they lose seats in the house or senate . Since they've ( republicans ) lost a lot during the 2008 elections they want to put in place laws that only benefit certain political groups and corporations ..... if they due manage to screw everything up again ( oh and they will , greed serves them best ) they will have laws in place to keep the wealthy benefiting from the struggles that you and I feel everyday . People really need to look at what their doing including the media because if you keep the masses fighting one another it 's easy for them to take away everything you have becasue we're too busy fighting each other instead of the politicians . What's happening in the Middle East can and will happen here , it's just a matter of time .....................keep pushing republicans , I can assure you that Americans will push back !!!!

    February 23, 2011 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  22. Tim in NJ

    @Bob in PA
    I'm union and i couldn't agree with you more on your issue about campaign contributions. what we need more than anything else in this country is strict campaign finance limited to contribution from individuals who reside within the polticians district and capped to a level that the average amercain can afford. No contributions from unions, from PAC, from corporations, nothing but hard earned money from the people. Our constitutions says "We the People." It does not say anything about We the PAC, We the Labor Unions, or We the Coorporations. If the TEA Party wants to return the power to the people, this is where it starts.

    February 23, 2011 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  23. Emerson

    At least the AMerican people see the acts of Republican for what they are – union busting. The problem is not with the unions, the problem is with the state and local goverments agreeing by contract to give such lavish salaries and benefits. People forget that civil servants, teachers, cops and firemen used to make a lesser wage than private sector workers in exchange for job security and a pension. Now they get the same high salaries and the job security and pensions. The publc gets left holding the bag. I livei n a county where 1,200 of it 2,400 cops make over $150,000 a year!
    How do we fix that?

    February 23, 2011 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  24. willie floyd

    Grundoon-agreed-38% voter turnout in the mid-terms. I'd like to tell Dems. that complain about ANYTHING to just shut up. You certainly did nothing to help keep the Reps. out of the house. Thanks a lot. I expect to see a much higher turn out in 2012!

    February 23, 2011 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  25. Inmyopinion

    Not true, the survey must have been done with government workers. Let's clear the air, make all government employees salaries and benefits public record so that we all know where our tax dollars are going, let's have transparency. Unions representing government employees must also make their financial records public record so we can have transparency there also. Seems to me government employees are making more money than us in the private sector and those paychecks are paid from taxes. So, government employees put their share of taxes in the bag like the rest of us, the difference is they get it back in a salary plus benefits they don't pay for. And they even have the power to shut down schools and cities.

    February 23, 2011 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
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