Poll: Support for Public Unions

USA Today/Gallup
Feb. 21, 2011

The question was asked: As you may know, one way the legislature in Wisconsin is seeking to reduce its budget deficit is by passing a bill that would take away some of the collective bargaining rights of most public unions, including the state teachers’ union. Would you favor or oppose such a bill in your state?

61 percent of those polled said they would oppose such a bill.

Crosstabs revealed some interesting differences in the strength of that opposition.
All age groups oppose this bill, but 75 percent of those aged 18 to 35 oppose it.

Income differences:
74 percent of those earning less than $24,000 oppse; 19 support support.
64 percent of those earning $24,000-59,999 oppose; 33 percent support.
53 percent of those earing $60,000 to $89,999 oppose; 41 percent support.
47 percent of those earning $90,000 or more oppose; 50 percent support.

The question here is why does it vary by income?

No surprises based on political ID though, although the support from Republicans, at 54 percent, is not as strong as one might think given the no compromise position taken the Wisconsin governor. Very few Democats–just 18 percent–support taking away collective bargaining rights.

It is also interesting to note that 51 percent of people who identify as Conservatives support taking away collective bargaining rights. Only 27 percent of moderates support and 18 percent of the liberals support ending collective bargaining rights.

Why such relatively weak support among conservatives?

The governor of Wisconsin is championing a law that does not have popular support. When government strays too far from the majority, people will make their voices heard. Gov. Walker and the Republicans might learn a lesson in democracy on this one. Police and fire-fighters also have unions–and unions are sticking together.

Data can be found at: Washington Post

While the focus has been elimination of collective bargaining by public unions, there are other elements of the bill that is troubling from a public administration standpoint: this includes eliminating transparency in contracting out, eliminating competitive bids, and basically given the governor the authority to privatize and give out contracts at his whim.

According to Paul Krugman:
And then there’s this: “Notwithstanding ss. 13.48 (14) (am) and 16.705 (1), the department may sell any state-owned heating, cooling, and power plant or may contract with a private entity for the operation of any such plant, with or without solicitation of bids, for any amount that the department determines to be in the best interest of the state.” … The language in the budget bill would, in effect, let the governor privatize any or all of these facilities at whim. Not only that, he could sell them, without taking bids, to anyone he chooses. And note that any such sale would, by definition, be “considered to be in the public interest.”
Read: Krugman article

In his view, this is a set up for cronyism.
In my view, this is not good public administration.
What do you think? And why has this issue not made headlines?

This entry was posted in Polls.

3 thoughts on “Poll: Support for Public Unions

  1. PEW survey found similar results, although not as much support for the Unions as the Gallup poll.
    Democrats, Young, Less Affluent Side Strongly With Unions

    “Democrats overwhelmingly side with the government employee unions in the ongoing dispute in Wisconsin. Two- thirds (67%) say this, compared with just 12% who say they side more with the governor. About half of Republicans (53%) say they side more with Gov. Walker; 17% say they side more with the public employee unions. Independents are evenly divided (39% side more with the unions, 34% more with the governor).
    Link: http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1910/poll-wisconsin-unions-favored-governor-scott-walker-president-obama-gop-leadership-government-shutdown

    Among those ages 18 to 29, nearly half (46%) say they side more with the public employee unions, while 13% say they side with the governor. Among those ages 65 and older, the balance is reversed — but the gap more narrow (45% say they side more with the governor, 33% with the unions).

    While whites are nearly evenly divided (38% unions, 36% governor), non-white people are much more likely to say they side more with the unions that represent public employee workers (51% vs. 19%).

    And while those with household incomes of $75,000 or more are divided (36% side more with the unions, 40% with the governor), those earning less clearly side more with the government employee unions. Among those with family income of less than $30,000, 46% say they side more with the unions, while 20% say they side more with the governor.”

  2. Fox News and Lou Dobbs continue to write that people do not support the unions.
    However, another poll–this time by Rasmussen Reports–continues to show a majority support collective bargaining for public employee unions.

    Lesson here: When reading news articles that report polling results:
    a. Make sure they actually show the data, rather than their interpretations.
    b. Provide a direct link to the actual poll so you can check it out and decide for yourself whether their interpretation actually matches the data.

    Granted, that reasonable people can disagree about interpration–but a sophisticated user of resesarch results will want to see the actual polling results, as well as information about the poll itself. A poll on a website is always bogus. You want a randomly selected cross-section of the population, and you want to know the sample size and the margin of error.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *