For the third time in the past two weeks, a national poll has found that roughly 60% of all Americans oppose eliminating collective bargaining rights for public employee unions, the highly contentious proposal put forward by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) that has deadlocked the state government and prompted weeks of protests inside the Wisconsin State Capitol.
In the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, 62% of Americans said it was “unacceptable” to eliminate collective bargaining rights for public employees, nearly twice as many as the 33% who said that was acceptable. Furthermore, nearly eight in ten said public employees should have the same bargaining rights as people in the private sector.The results are striking in that they affirm what have become incredibly consistent findings on the issue of whether people think public employee unions should have the power to collectively bargain. Three national polls now, including this latest one, have produced similar results within a two percent margin.
In a Gallup poll released last week, 61% of all Americans said they would oppose a bill that would roll back collective bargaining rights for public employees if one were proposed in their state. And in a New York Times/CBS poll released Monday, 60% of Americans said they opposed cutting collective bargaining rights for public employee unions.
The latest Wall Street Journal/NBC poll is also interesting in that the wording of the questions, more so than previous polls on the issue, most closely reflected the situation in Wisconsin. The survey asked whether it was acceptable for elected officials to do a number of things to reduce a state’s budget deficit, including:
Eliminate public employees’ right to collectively bargain over health care, pensions, and other benefits when negotiating a union contract.
That’s the argument Gov. Walker has been making in Wisconsin. Unions have already agreed to make a number of concession on the amount of money they contribute to their benefit packages, though the Governor has held out, insisting that collective bargaining rights must also be eliminated in order for the state to balance its budget.
As Walker continues his push to roll back collective bargaining rights for public employees, polls continue to show public opinion firmly against his proposals. Most ominously, a poll of Wisconsin voters found the state evenly split over whether he should be recalled — even though he’s only been in office for two months.
The Wall Street Journal/NBC poll was conducted February 24-28 among 1,000 adults nationwide. It has a margin of error of 3.1%.