Polls: More support for unions in Wisconsin labor battle
March 1st, 2011
08:54 AM ET
12 years ago

Polls: More support for unions in Wisconsin labor battle

Washington (CNN) - As the standoff in Wisconsin rages on, two new nationwide polls indicate more people support the public sector union workers over the state's Republican governor in the battle over collective bargaining rights.

Forty-two percent of the public sides with the public employee unions and 31 percent backs Gov. Scott Walker, according to a Pew Research Center survey released Tuesday. Nearly one in ten say they don't support either side, with 18 percent unsure.

The poll's release comes as protesters rally for the third-straight week outside the Wisconsin state capitol, upset with 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.

A new CBS News/New York Times survey indicates that six in ten oppose the elimination of collective bargaining rights for the public sector union workers, with 56 percent opposed to the cutting of pay or benefits to reduce state budget deficits. The poll indicates a partisan divide, with Democrats and independents opposed to both moves while Republicans in favor of Walker's proposals.

A USA Today/Gallup survey released last Wednesday also indicated 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.

According to the Pew poll, two-thirds of Democrats side with the government employee unions, with Republicans favoring the governor by a 53-17 percent margin. Independents questioned in the survey are more divided, with 39 percent siding more with the unions and 34 supporting the governor.

The survey also indicates an income gap, with lower income people siding with the unions and more affluent people divided.

The Pew Research Center poll was conducted February 24-27, with 1,009 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

The CBS News/New York Times poll was conducted February 24-27, with 984 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

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Filed under: Polls
soundoff (42 Responses)
  1. stayintrue

    Who the heck are you all polling? I'm an Independent and I stand with Governor Walker. Unions need to be reigned in. It is not about politics for me, it is about the fact that the union bosses (and their hand picked politicians) benefit from all that collected money from dues......NOT STUDENTS, and rarely teachers.

    March 1, 2011 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  2. donkey party

    Shows very clearly who are with the people (D), and who are against them (GObP)...

    March 1, 2011 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  3. John

    It's history folks... the GOP will ALWAYS hate unions/collective bargaining, and support big business above the laborer... above all else. Always has... always will! That will NEVER CHANGE!

    March 1, 2011 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  4. Four and The Door

    It doesn't matter what people would like to see happen. States are in much worse shape financially than most people understand. State workers have not seen the kind of brutal adjustments we have made in the private sector for survival. But some states are in critical financial situations and the Governors are absolutely responsible for getting their states in line with these realities. They need to do whatever is necessary. That's their job.

    March 1, 2011 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  5. Inmyopinion

    I think people are supporting the Unions only because Governor Walker is a Republican. If Governor Walker were a Democrat than people would be angry that our tax dollars are paying these high salaries, pensions, benefits for government workers and also paying Union fees thus consuming our tax dollars.
    I don't think this is fair as so many in the private sector have to work 2 jobs, overtime, weekends just to live a comfortable live, pay for their own benefits, pension, college for kids all the while also paying for the government worker.
    We have the reached the point of encouraging college kids to get a government job if they want to make good salaries and benefits, pension and forget about working in the private sector as the private sector salaries, pensions and benefits cannot compete with government salaries and benefits.
    Everyone is wanting the workers in the private sector and businesses to pay more taxes in order for our government to continue to pay its workers' their high salaries and benefits for less hours and weeks worked (except fire fighters and police officers) and pay their Union fees ??????

    March 1, 2011 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  6. America fell asleep

    Every working American, union or not, has benefited from the labor movement in this country.

    March 1, 2011 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  7. PalmReader

    In GOPerville, apparently its NOT OK to take from the rich to balance our budgets, but it IS OK to take from the poor to give to the rich. Good to know that the majority of Americans think otherwise. Funny also how Americans shouldn't be expected to raise taxes on the upper 2%ers, but we MUST decrease incomes on the working class, even when this means pitting one neighbor against another. Not sure how laying off more folks will increase tax revenues . . . no doubt Scott Walker will be happy to explain this new variation of trickle down economics once the Wisconsin layoffs commence. After all, didn't Reagan push that the more the rich had, the more they would be willing to share, through better benefits and better wages. Apparently this new GOPer trickle down ideology suggests that NOT collecting ANY revenue is best - not only for individual states, but the country as a whole. Perhaps his new best friend Mr. Koch can help push Walkers ideological talking points? After 30 years of Reagan's trickle down economic message, we continue to have high unemployment and huge state budget deficits. One would think that even GOPers might take a long look at what Reagan's voodoo economics has actually accomplished, or not accomplished - as the case may be.

    March 1, 2011 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  8. Peter E

    Wow! People are starting to realize the bigger picture: republicans are not just out there against unionized teachers. They want to silence all workers, remove all rights and regulations, and give control only to the rich and powerful. They are realizing 'it's the teacher's union today. It could be my job benefits, and even security next!'

    March 1, 2011 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  9. Limbaugh is a liberal

    Facts: the teacher's union HAS agreed to give up benefits. The only thing they are holding onto is collective bargaining rights. The teachers are NOT the ones against balancing the budget.
    Also, a lot of the budget deficit came from unnecessary and unproductive tax cuts implemented by republicans. The republicans were NEVER serious about balancing the budget. This was solely about rewarding their business buddies, and using the resulting budget imbalance as an excuse to silence unions, take away workers' rights.

    March 1, 2011 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  10. Zeke2112

    Wow, the poor siding with unions? No way.

    I suppose I'd side with them too if I was getting paid $30/hour plus benefits to turn a wrench (real data from a family member at Chrysler, Warren MI).

    March 1, 2011 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  11. betterdays

    As has been proven time and time again in D.C. over the past two years, what matters is who has the votes and/or veto power. Not what some poll says. So people in Maine or California or Washington state are certainly welcome to their opinions, but where the law in Wisconsin is concerned, that's all they are: opinions.

    In case you hadn't noticed, a lot of Republicans got voted into office lately. Perhaps if some younger people had rolled out of bed during off-year elections and gone to the polls, instead of just voting for "that one dude" during presidential campaigns like MTV told them to, things would be different. But they're not.

    March 1, 2011 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  12. rob

    These Public sector unions chose to participate in power politics by donating 10 to 1 to Democrats who in turn negotiate with the unions favorably on there contracts. They now have to face the end of the corupt sweetheart deals they had. Republicans swept to victory in State Houses all across the country in historic #'s based on the financial condition of those states leaving the unions agents,(Democrats), out of power and the unions on their own. The private sector has been suffering from the recession with job losses, wage reductions and higher costs for benefits leaving States with less revenue and huge debts and unsustainable obligations to its retired work force.

    This is not about "Busting unions" its about breaking the corrupt stanglehold the unions have had on the State and local governments.

    March 1, 2011 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  13. Enough is Enough

    I guess the wrong question was asked. The question should have been would you support the rights of an organization (union) that keeps bad teachers in the class room because they are in a union but should be fired based on their ability. This is the reality its what unions do, they protect their members not your kids. I know from experience, my kids have had many wonderful teachers in the DC public schools and some who should have been fired for gross incompetence decades ago. Do the research yourself do a search on the following- "dance of the lemons"

    March 1, 2011 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  14. Former Republican - Now Independent

    Looks to me like Scott Walker has more in common with Moammar Gadhafi than Ronald Reagan.

    March 1, 2011 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  15. betterdays

    Some feller say "obstruct?"

    March 1, 2011 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  16. w l jones

    For those who have work in management one day the boss tell you do not check in! an then tell you your negitive have surpase your positive we can not use you any more. Then an only then wish had somebody to bid your cause. Just think ..no holiday,vacation, sick day off nor family leave, everything that will keep a family togather came about through the union as well as a middle class living.

    March 1, 2011 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  17. Dean

    A public employee is protected under civil service codes. A public employee is paid by the taxpayer and is not entitled to any collective bargaining rights under any law or constitution article. When a taxpayer gets collective bargaining rights against the governemt and IRS then a public employee will be entitled to union representation and collective bargaining.

    March 1, 2011 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
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