Like ’Em or Not, Most Americans Support Labor Unions’ Rights

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Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Take note, Republican governors: The majority of Americans oppose efforts to weaken public-employee unions' collective bargaining rights and attempts to cut pay or benefits to public workers in order to reduce state budget deficits. According to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll, 60 percent opposed weakening bargaining rights, and 33 percent supported it. In terms of cutting pay or benefits to balance the budget, 56 percent opposed it, and 37 percent supported it. However, that doesn't mean labor unions are likely to win a popularity contest. A third of those surveyed viewed unions favorably, a quarter unfavorably, and the remainder said they were undecided or haven't heard enough to know. But that didn't stop 61 percent (including just over half of Republicans) from saying that salaries and benefits of most public workers were "about right" or "too low" for the work they do.

But that's not the only recent poll that could spell bad news for Wisconsin governor Scott Walker. If there were a hypothetical do-over of the state's gubernatorial election, 52 percent of respondents in a PPP poll out yesterday said they would vote for Democrat Tom Barrett, the man Walker defeated, while only 42 percent said they would reelect Walker. That's an flip-flop from what actually happened in the non-hypothetical elections, when Walker picked up 52 percent of the votes to Barrett's 47 percent.

In defense of Walker and his anti-union measures, billionaire tea-party enthusiast Charles Koch has taken to the op-ed pages of The Wall Street Journal.


The Congressional Budget Office has warned that the interest on our federal debt is "poised to skyrocket." Even Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is sounding alarms. Yet the White House insists that substantial spending cuts would hurt the economy and increase unemployment.

Plenty of compelling examples indicate just the opposite. When Canada recently reduced its federal spending to 11.3% of GDP from 17.5% eight years earlier, the economy rebounded and unemployment dropped. By comparison, our federal spending is 25% of GDP.

You know the tea party is desperate if they're willing to suggest we be more like Canada.

Majority in Poll Back Employees in Public Sector Unions [NYT]
Poll: Wisconsin Voters Wouldn't Elect Gov. Walker In Do-Over [TPM]
Why Koch Industries Is Speaking Out [WSJ]