Who’s Winning the Fight Over Public-Employee Unions?
In its Topic A feature, the Washington Post asked several experts — among them the Pew Research Center’s Director of Survey Research Scott Keeter — who’s winning and who’s losing in the fight over public-employee unions.
Shifting Political Winds
Americans’ are less discontent with the federal government but no more ready for political compromise. Views of Congress remain heavily negative, while Obama’s ratings stay positive. On social issues, the public is, for the first time, evenly split on gay marriage, while support for legal abortion, legalized marijuana — but not gun control — have all risen.
Wisconsin Unions Favored Over Walker in Showdown
By a 42%-31% margin, the public sides with public employee unions in their dispute with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. At the federal level, President Obama and GOP leaders would share blame for a government shutdown.
In Showdown with Air Traffic Controllers, the Public Sided with Reagan
The bitter fight over union rights in Wisconsin calls to mind a labor battle that helped define the first year of Ronald Reagan’s presidency.
Labor Unions: Good for Workers, Not for U.S. Competitiveness
Favorability ratings for labor unions remain at nearly their lowest level in a quarter century with virtually no differences in opinions about private and public sector unions. Yet the public now expresses similar opinions about business corporations whose rating is also near a historic low.
Independent Voters vs. Unions
Union members are one voting bloc that continues to strongly back their party’s candidates — the downside of that support is that labor unions have fallen out of favor with the broader public, including independents who will cast the decisive votes in this year’s elections.
United We Stand … on Technology
Americans are widely dissatisfied not only with government but with most major institutions. One notable exception: the technology industry.
Favorability Ratings of Labor Unions Fall Sharply
Favorable views of labor unions have plummeted since 2007, amid growing public skepticism about unions’ purpose and power. Currently, 41% say they have a favorable opinion of labor unions while about as many (42%) express an unfavorable opinion.
Public Knows Basic Facts About Financial Crisis
High percentages of Americans know that the government assistance to banks is aimed at getting them to lend more money, not less money and that China is the foreign country holding the most U.S. government debt. Notably, more Americans know the current unemployment rate than the current level of the Dow Jones Industrial Average.
We love the free market, but fear corporations and global competition, and depend on Uncle Sam to keep us safe.