Have PEU reform efforts produced a backlash?

posted at 12:15 pm on April 1, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

That’s what recent polls from Gallup and the New York Times/CBS suggest, according to an analysis today in Politico from Robert Kuttner.  Gallup released its results this morning, showing that a plurality of adults choose public-employee unions over state governors in battles over cost control:

With political battles over state budgets and collective bargaining still playing out to varying degrees in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, Maine, and several other states, 48% of Americans say they agree more with the unions in these disputes, while 39% agree more with the governors. Thirteen percent favor neither side or have no opinion. …

A few subgroups of Americans show particularly broad support for unions in these battles. Democrats give unions their highest support, at 70%, followed by young adults — those aged 18 to 34 — at 61%. A majority of residents in the East, 52%, favor unions, the only region to cross the 50% support threshold.

Similar percentages of men and women take the unions’ side (46% and 50%, respectively); however, women are significantly less likely than men to favor the governors (33% vs. 45%) and significantly more likely to have no opinion.

Republicans, to no one’s surprise, back the governors 65/25.  Independents tend to back the unions, although it’s a fairly even split, 40/45, while Democrats overwhelmingly side with PEUs, 19/70.  Kuttner warns that this could start a rollback of GOP gains in state legislatures from the 2010 midterms:

Republicans may ultimately find that it was a strategic blunder to demonize unions. As more of the middle class feels the economic vulnerabilities of the working class, Americans are giving unions a second look.

Are they really?  First, no new organizing movement seems to be sweeping the country in the private sector, which is what would qualify as a “second look.”  Over the last several months, with or without PEU reforms, state and local governments have reduced headcount nationwide by over 400,000 in the last two years.  That’s not exactly a pro-union movement.  If anything, it’s more of a potential boundary setting on the pace and scope of PEU reforms

But even that’s arguable.  Survey USA conducted a poll in one of the most union-friendly states in the country, my state of Minnesota, and found some fairly surprising support for curtailing PEU prerogatives.  While opposing the budget-reform bill pushed by Scott Walker in Wisconsin as a solution in Minnesota, 38/55, there’s plenty of support for “right to work” legislation — in fact, it’s more than 2-1 at 63/27.  That’s hardly a “second look at unions,” especially in a state known for its progressive politics.

The issue in these battles have to do with who controls public policy: the voters or the PEUs.  Republicans may need to do a better job of telling that story, because the electorate is receptive to it when it’s divorced from the hyperbolic media spin about “collective bargaining rights” and the supposed attack on the middle class.


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Adults.

Not registered voters.

Another BS poll from Gallup.

rockmom on April 1, 2011 at 12:20 PM

I find this hard to believe, but anythings possible with the media whipping up the “working families” against the rich angle. We will see if these efforts to curb some of the Unions stranglehold fails.If it does the resulting lay offs and tax raises might change some of their minds.

sandee on April 1, 2011 at 12:22 PM

I’ve said for years that one of the major enemies of freedom in this country is the Leftist Media. Republicans didn’t learn in ’94. I fear that they will continue to expect the media to fairly report news, instead of working as shills and whores for the NationalSocialists Democrats.

oldleprechaun on April 1, 2011 at 12:24 PM

I hate to lay on the messaging meme but they could do better with the messaging. Explaining why public employee unions are anti-democratic and differentiate between public and private unions. Not that other unions don’t have and cause their own problems but just to keep the conversation on track. The media and Left have been successful making the illegal immigration debate about plain old immigration. I’d rather not see the same here.

oddjob1138 on April 1, 2011 at 12:25 PM

Gallup polled Adults, who are not necessarily voters, or registered voters, or likely voters, or even citizens.

Why do they keep polling Adults? Are they too lazy to filter their polling sample? Is it too expensive? No. Gallup knows full well how the results are skewed when they poll so-called “adults,” so I guess they do it just so they can lie to you.

Emperor Norton on April 1, 2011 at 12:27 PM

Usually things can be called lies, damned lies, or statistics. This poll seems to qualify for all three.

Vashta.Nerada on April 1, 2011 at 12:27 PM

The question that needs to be asked, over and over and over again is Against whom are PEU’s organizing against?

The answer: we the people.

The politicans can purchase labor peace by giving into union demands. It isn’t like it’s their money. They can raise more.

And the unions in turn support those politicans who supported them. Straight up donations, GOTV drives, volunteer labor, in-kind donations, media advertising.

In a less civilized nation, that would be called money laundering.

I R A Darth Aggie on April 1, 2011 at 12:28 PM

Once more folk are aware of the tactic described in video below, from WI, I believe the numbers will change… and that the public employees in LA just rolled over to keep their negotiation of benefits ability another sign that unions realize their days of wine and extorted roses are about over.

Check this out. It’s Ms Megyn Kelly defenestrating the Public unions, and a hack from loonish left dealing with WI unions strong arming mom and pop retail store.:

http://video.foxnews.com/v/4618571/unions-squeezing-wisconsin-businesses

Shivas Irons on April 1, 2011 at 12:29 PM

“48% of Americans say they agree more with the unions in these disputes,…”

Hey Ed…

… What’s with all the “April Fools” posts?

Seven Percent Solution on April 1, 2011 at 12:29 PM

I sure can’t wait for the day when pundits see a report about a poll and ignore it.

Polls are crafted to get the answer their sponsors want, and should be treated as press releases.

Crawford on April 1, 2011 at 12:30 PM

Morrissey, you gullible fool.

‘union strongholds’ Wisconsin and Ohio elected GOP majorities last November AND GOP Governors. Yet you would accept a craptastic poll from agencies proven to distort and issue push-polls predicated on grossly jiggered sampling?
Gullible fool.

rayra on April 1, 2011 at 12:33 PM

there’s plenty of support for “right to work” legislation — in fact, it’s more than 2-1 at 63/27

Which is why it was such a huge blunder when Mitch Daniels too Right to Work off the table.

FloatingRock on April 1, 2011 at 12:34 PM

I meant “took”, not “too”.

FloatingRock on April 1, 2011 at 12:34 PM

Mitch Daniels is on the wrong side of Right to Work.

FloatingRock on April 1, 2011 at 12:36 PM

Adults.

Not registered voters.

Another BS poll from Gallup.

rockmom on April 1, 2011 at 12:20 PM

Nice catch, but let’s also remember that in a special election like the one for Wisconsin Supreme Court scheduled this Tuesday, April 5, there will be a lot of liberals motivated to get out and vote. We desperately need a GOTV effort for Prosser and we can’t take anything for granted, even an obvious fault in a poll like this.

Caiwyn on April 1, 2011 at 12:37 PM

I don’t understand why we give press to obviously flawed polls. Doesn’t that just encourage more of the same? How is this different from giving Charlie Sheen network airtime for his latest rant?

slickwillie2001 on April 1, 2011 at 12:40 PM

“48% of Americans say they agree more with the unions goons, death threats, and teaching propaganda to our kids in these disputes,…”

Fixed it for ‘ya…

Seven Percent Solution on April 1, 2011 at 12:41 PM

Polling adults. Kids turn 18 and are adults. Isn’t that all it would take? Get the names of 18 year old seniors in high school, or early college years, and make a poll with their opinions. After years of brainwashing. Or use the term adults and call union members only.

Gallup works for the liberals. Pure and simple. I just don’t trust anything that comes from them.

capejasmine on April 1, 2011 at 12:44 PM

If they want to win the argument, all they need to do is adopt the Federal standards for unions. All the Governors just pass bills, Federal Union Bargaining Act Reorganization.

FUBAR

All my comments are being censored

WoosterOh on April 1, 2011 at 12:51 PM

And what is the percentage of idiots who don’t know the difference from a private and public sector union?

Let’s ask that question, shall we?

Knucklehead on April 1, 2011 at 12:53 PM

Most people don’t understand the conflict of interest that means PEU’s should not even exist. So they support PEU’s.

The polling phrased “Do you oppose PEUs?” will be a majority “no”.

However, those same people if asked the question “Do you think Union membership should be mandatory for anybody?” the answer is overwhelmingly “no” as well. If you ask “Should public employees pay part of their health care and pension costs?”, the answer is overwhelmingly “yes!”. If you ask whether “Should unions be able to collective bargain for every element of their jobs?”, the answer is “probably not”.

This is like Gallup polling “Do you oppose murder?” and then the conservative press saying “See, the country is overwhelmingly anti-abortion!”

Or polling “Do you think professional sports are a good thing?” and then the press saying “See, the country supports death matches!”

Or “Do you believe in families?” and then saying “See, the country supports gay marriage!”

PastorJon on April 1, 2011 at 1:00 PM

There is nothing like a huge nationally advertised hissy fit to make people want to do anything to make it stop. The voters are willing to buy the Left (child) any toy to make it stop.

Cindy Munford on April 1, 2011 at 1:05 PM

Say union member to someone and they think of an electrician making $50K a year.

They don’t realize 90% of union members are govt workers making $100K a year, retiring at 50 with $0 cost health care.

angryed on April 1, 2011 at 1:25 PM

Here is the section benefits for state employees in my state:

Leave benefits include 12 to 22 days of paid vacation per year, plus 11 paid holidays, 12 days of paid sick leave, and newborn, adoptive, and emergency child care leave.

22 days vacation, 11 holidays, 12 sick days. That’s a total of 45 days off per year. And that “emergency” child care leave means you take the day off if little Bobby has the sniffles. Which means +/-50 days a year paid time off.

In a year there are 260 working days (52 weeks, 5 days a week). So that means a state govt employee gets 20% of that time paid to not work.

angryed on April 1, 2011 at 1:34 PM

Oh please…Am I going to take Robert Kuttner as a serious analyst?

The only reason to go to the American Prospect or EPI or any other labor-left website, In these Times, dKos, Think Progress, etc. etc. etc. is to see what the other side is up to.

from in these times:

Redressing these failings will require a “transformational presidency,” like that of Franklin D. Roosevelt, as journalist Robert Kuttner argues in his new book, Obama’s Challenge. They will require the “next New Deal,” according to U.S. Action, a coalition of statewide citizen organizations.

r keller on April 1, 2011 at 1:57 PM

The issue in these battles have to do with who controls public policy: the voters or the PEUs. Republicans may need to do a better job of telling that story, because the electorate is receptive to it when it’s divorced from the hyperbolic media spin about “collective bargaining rights” and the supposed attack on the middle class.

Since only about 7% of private-sector employees belong to unions, that’s a lot of “middle class” who pay (both federal and state) taxes but would not lose anything if union bargaining power was cut.

Public-employee unions probably get lots of sympathy using the “help your child’s underpaid teacher” meme, but lots of people probably don’t realize that it’s public employees’ PENSIONS, not their salaries, that are bankrupting the states. How many teachers retire at age 50 or 55, collect pensions and work somewhere else?

In the private sector, retirement means Social Security plus whatever you put into your 401K or IRA. If non-public employees wake up to the retirement advantages enjoyed by public employees, there would be a huge backlash! This is the message Republicans need to spread…

Steve Z on April 1, 2011 at 2:21 PM

Wonder how many of those ‘adults’ would support PEU’s because they are business owners, seniors, parents, or otherwise afraid of riots and repercussions to them personally, if the unions are thwarted? Fear?

jodetoad on April 1, 2011 at 2:35 PM

The problem with PEUs is not so much their collective bargaining powers as it is their power to forcibly extract their members money to fund the campaigns of those who will occupy the other side of the bargaining table. Given that it might be more productive to attack the problem from a different direction. Instead of removing the bargaining rights of the unions we could change the makeup of the bodies bargaining with them. A law which says that all PEU bargaining will be done by representatives of a randomly selected group of businesses within the pertinent locality might, by invoking people who actually have a clear interest in bargaining effectively, lead to better results in the long run by denting the unions main source of power which is their ability to select their own bosses,

djaces on April 1, 2011 at 2:39 PM

THIS ~

The issue in these battles have to do with who controls public policy: the voters or the PEUs. Republicans may need to do a better job of telling that story, because the electorate is receptive to it when it’s divorced from the hyperbolic media spin about “collective bargaining rights” and the supposed attack on the middle class.

IS what we have got to educate the public on, fast, and lots. People really are terribly ignorant on this topic, as in uninformed,

Minorcan Maven on April 1, 2011 at 10:30 PM