Polls: More support for unions in Wisconsin labor battle
March 1st, 2011
08:54 AM ET
11 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.

Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @PsteinhauserCNN



Filed under: Polls
soundoff (42 Responses)
  1. bigsue87

    Really? a CBS/NYTimes poll that favors a liberal agenda? You've got to be kidding! haha

    March 1, 2011 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  2. ConservaFascists

    The poll goes to show that Dictator Walker is on the wrong side of the issue. The sad part is that he's not willing or attempting to negotiate.

    March 1, 2011 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  3. DENNA

    With the Republican attack on unions, apparently they have forgotten that union members vote too. I am sure that there are a fair amount of union workers who are conservative too. Why are the Republicans spitting on a large part of their voting base? By the way, Gov. Walker, most Americans support the union. You are toast in the next election unless you stop acting like a dictator.

    March 1, 2011 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  4. Pete

    Don't take the right wing bait, pitting public worker against private worker. Your shrinking paycheck also pays the wages, health insurance, pensions and retirement plans (where they still exist) of workers in the private sector as well. You don't think companies add that into the price of their products and services? Trust me, those costs are not coming out of the paychecks of top executives.

    March 1, 2011 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  5. The reality is...

    ...but when more people learn the truth about what unions are really all about, then you will see more support for what the governor is trying to do. Oh, right, with the union loving, liberal media, getting the truth out is the big battle.

    March 1, 2011 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  6. realist

    You go Wisconsin,keep up the fight against the Gop taking away your protection from corporate greed and corruption! I think us Americans have "seen enough CEO greed that has been allowed by the Republican Party for years! The Ceo of 3M called the President"anti bussiness,LOL. Sorry Mr.Billionaire,He,s anti GREED. You got your Billionaire tax cut! What are you complaining about? God help us?

    March 1, 2011 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  7. American

    I stand strong with the majority For American working families and Against imperialist, lying Walker.

    The reasonable concessions have already been offered over the budget. Enough of Walker's partisan nonsense against Americans' constitutional rights to assemble.

    March 1, 2011 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  8. Seattle Sue

    After the fake phone call from [David Koch], Walker's true plans were exposed. If after the Union members agreed to the money cuts and Walker won't except the offer without stripping their rights to bargain, then it is clear that Walker's agenda is to bust the unions.

    March 1, 2011 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  9. Darth Vadik, CA

    And this after over 30 years of brainwashing people about the evil unions and their crazy idea that workers might actually have rights....

    Here is a good test to know and do next time you are wondering where your support should be....if the Republicans support it, then it must be bad because the last thing decent that a Republican did was back in 1861, and he got killed for it....

    March 1, 2011 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  10. Mark

    Is CNN playing favorites? During the Tea Party protests, CNN had DAILY coverage regarding the “tone” of the protests, which by all other accounts were extremely peaceful. In Wisc and Ohio we see signs all of the time calling the Governors Hitler, people yelling inappropriate things, ignoring law enforcement, etc. CNN ignores all of this. Where is the daily coverage on these union thugs? Shame on you CNN for siding with the political left.

    March 1, 2011 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  11. tstorm

    Governor Walker would clearly lose the election if it were held today. He's made a scapegoat out of public employees when they are the hardest working among us; those that guard our prisoners, clean our streets, empty our garbage, teach our children, protect us from criminals, and put out fires... Walker is an offense to middle class America.

    March 1, 2011 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  12. voter.taxpayer.parent

    As a Wisconsin resident and voter, I am still waiting for a call to be "polled." Luckily we have binding polls, aka ELECTIONS where my opinion does count.

    I continue to support Scott Walker and his plan to cut government spending, whether the unions like it or not.

    March 1, 2011 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  13. Mark

    "I don't think it does anybody any good when public employees are denigrated or vilified or their rights are infringed upon," Obama. Where was this President during the Tea Party protests???? The President was silent.

    March 1, 2011 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  14. Casual Citizen

    And to think you folks in Wisconsin VOTED the guy in.....and now you hate him for doing exactly what he said he was going to do.

    WHAT gives with that? You voted out all the Democrats you could, and now the knuckleheads are taking over.....isn't THAT what you folks in Wisconsin signed up for? Wanted?
    One good thing, it shows what Repugs are capable of doing, and most of the country has watched, so, I hope this becomes a lesson learned on voting for Republicanknuckleheads.
    Too many voters think they clean house......be careful what you wish for...or in this case vote for. I can't help driving home that point, its astonishing to me thay are mad.......now! Then....the recorded phone call the Gov. had......I bet they are ticked.

    March 1, 2011 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  15. tct

    It's really quite simple, both sides have been abusive, unions have to be more willing to give things up in hard times and less greedy (to justify leadership positions to the rank and file) and union busting (like ending collective bargaining) is an attempt to impose serfdom and end class mobility.

    If decent people negotiate answers are often easy, we need "leaders" to display some decency.

    March 1, 2011 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  16. GonzoinHouston

    The GOP is currently led by a combination of the rich, the corporate, and the anti-tax militants. Between them they will do major damage to the middle class. In the words of Warren Buffet "We've had class warfare for several years now. My class is winning."

    Unions serve as a check and balance on the excesses of managements. They are sometimes a nuisance, and sometimes corrupt, but the damage they do to the economy and the nation is trivial compared to the ravages of an out-of-control financial sector. Cutting budgets is important; destroying labor unions is not.

    March 1, 2011 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  17. Al

    Your goose is cooked Mr. Walker.

    March 1, 2011 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  18. Fred

    lmao – Does anyone in politics or journalism do their job anymore? No wonder journalism is a dying industry. Over 35% of those polled belong to unions. Less than 15% actually belong to unions in this country, making the results of this "poll" laughable. The statistics quoted are false, which makes the pollsters either liars or idiots. But that's okay... don't be bothered to do the most basic things a journalist should do (check the facts). Tis a sad world in which we live sometimes.

    March 1, 2011 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  19. Gene Poole

    Did the Poll tell us which groups should be cut to balance State budgets? Let's just rule by misleading Polls and see where we end up. Is CNN aware that a majority of Americans were against the US going to War against Hitlers Germany before WWII. We would all be speaking German now if the US President just followed the Polls.

    March 1, 2011 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  20. jules sand-perkins

    If 18% of those polled are "unsure," then they are unaware of how they are personally affected by unionized government workers' pay scales.
    That 18% figure is what is frightening about this poll.
    Just for the record, I support Governor Walker 100% on this issue, although not on every political issue.
    Unions cause a great portion of our nation's economic problem. This is not the case in many other nations where unions thrive. In this country, union leaders are the most certain to succeed, not union workers.

    March 1, 2011 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  21. Stay Informed

    This is good. People need to understand that the power of the middle class/regular workers has been greatly weakened over the last 30 years and the stagnating salaries and loss of benefits show this. Any further loss of workers' rights will only result in even more salary reductions and benefit losses. Now people need to understand that the Republican party's policies continue to allow the very wealthy to suck up all of our wealth and resources while at the same time requiring the middle class to keep sacrificing in order to give these very wealthy people more and more. Look at Walker in WI and Christie in NJ. Walker gives $140 million in tax cuts to the wealthy and corporations and then demands that teachers, snow plow drivers, nurses (all middle class workers) give up $150 million in salary and benefits. Christie is giving huge tax cuts to those who make over $1 million a year and then bullying teachers and demanding salary cuts from them. The problem is that the wealthy and big corporate sponsors of the Republicans are willing to put a lot of money into elections in order to keep things the way they are. It worked in 2010. Don't let it work again in 2012. Our middle class depends on it.

    March 1, 2011 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  22. Oy Vey Az

    It wouldn't make any difference if God All Mighty was against Wisconsin's wack job goveror. It's all about lining Scott Walker's pockets ... he'll deal with God later.

    March 1, 2011 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  23. Sgt. Joe.

    Yes, but of course the GOP does not listen to the average American. When will we ever learn? They have the gumption to say they are listening, but they only pander to votes and money. Is this a surprise to anyone else? I'm alway baffled by why anyone with a middle to low income would vote against their own best interest. What has happened to dumb down our country?

    March 1, 2011 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  24. John

    Big surprise... Americans usually look unfavorably at Facist regimes that want to eliminate unions. Among others, one of the first things the NAZI's did when they grabbed power in 1933 was to eliminate unions!

    March 1, 2011 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  25. once upon a horse

    well so much for the Republicans always "doing the will of the American people" as they like to say. They only do the will of the people when they the GOP agrees with it.

    March 1, 2011 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
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