Polls say public backs unions on bargaining rights

As state and local governments facing budget problems look to cutting employee compensation, two polls suggest voters oppose one controversial proposal: Stripping public employee unions of some or all of their collective bargaining rights.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s attempts to do that have drawn thousands of protesters to the state Capitol, and led Democratic legislators to flee the state to block a vote on the measure. Polls taken for the AFL-CIO in the last week say 67 percent of the public backs public employees in the dispute, while 43 percent back Walker. They were conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, a Democratic firm. The surveys had a margin of error of +/- 4 to +/- 5 percentage points. But, as Huffington Post’s Mark Blumenthal notes, partisan polls tend to skew in the sponsor’s favor.

Perhaps more credibly, a USA Today/Gallup poll says 61 percent of voters would oppose a law similar to Wisconsin’s in their own state, while 33 percent would support it. But there’s even higher opposition to raising taxes, while the prospect of cutting government programs results in a draw, with 48 percent opposed and 47 percent for. The poll had a margin of error of +/- 4 percentage points.