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Posted at 8:02 AM ET, 03/ 1/2011

Poll: Majority backs government workers in unions

By Ed O'Keefe

President Obama greeted war veterans and civilian employees during a short visit to the Department of Veterans Affairs in March 209. (Bill O'Leary/Post)

A new national poll delivers some encouraging news for federal employees and their unions: Most Americans oppose weakening the collective bargaining rights of public employees and oppose cutting their pay or benefits to reduce deficits.

Concerns with public-sector unions and collective bargaining divide along partisan lines, according to the New York Times/CBS News survey. A slight majority of Republicans favor doing away with at least some bargaining rights, while large majorities of Democrats and independents support keeping them.

And notably, a majority of respondents who have no union members living in their households opposed cutting pay and benefits and taking away collective bargaining rights from public-sector workers.

In the last three decades, union membership has dropped sharply across the U.S., but remains higher in the public sector than among private sector workers.

The new polling numbers should boost the spirits of state workers and union leaders fighting budget battles with lawmakers and Republican governors in several Midwestern states, and -- if the numbers hold in forthcoming surveys -- could help upend attempts to make similar cuts at the federal level.

And as federal employees fret over the diminishing possibility of a government shutdown (at least this week), a new Washington Post-Pew Research Center poll finds Americans divide evenly over who's to blame if a shutdown occurs.

Thirty-six percent say Republicans would be at fault, while 35 percent say blame would rest with the Obama administration. About one in five say both congressional Republicans and the White House would be at fault. A Gallup poll published last week yielded similar findings.

Any potential disagreements on a new continuing resolution appear to center mostly on its length. Though House Republicans are insisting on a two-week resolution, the White House warned Monday of passing short-term spending measures.

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

By Ed O'Keefe  | March 1, 2011; 8:02 AM ET
Categories:  Government Shutdown, Workplace Issues  
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Next: Federal workers on possible government shutdown (Video)


LOL!!!! You used a New York Slimes / CBS survey as a source?!?!?! ....LMAO!!!!! Good one Ed...really funny!

Posted by: NO-bama | March 1, 2011 8:49 AM | Report abuse

Interesting. Your first paragraph might just point to the misinformation regarding the WI issue. There is NO intent to "cut" the pay of these people who already earn more , on average, than the private sector. Also, their benefit package far-exceeds that of the private sector so they are being asked to contribute a bit more of their own pay -- still about half of the private sector's contributions. Depending on HOW the pollster asks the question, I can see responses along the entire spectrum, so please take that into consideration.

Posted by: baltic | March 1, 2011 8:59 AM | Report abuse

Since it's Labor Day, it's worth highlighting the results of a Gallup poll from last week: Labor unions have become markedly less popular in recent years.

Just 48% of Americans approve of labor unions. That's an 11% drop from last year, and a 17% from drop 2003.

Posted by: corebanks1940 | March 1, 2011 9:06 AM | Report abuse

Virginia prohibits collective bargaining. Obviously the Kochtopus has its tentacles in Governor McDonnell's wallet because that state is Somalia. ROADZZZ!!!2

Posted by: millionea81 | March 1, 2011 9:29 AM | Report abuse

Instead of asking why union workers are paid more or given more benefits than the average nonunion worker (If, indeed, this is true) the question SHOULD be is why are all the other workers paid LESS than the union workers. We are not talking big bucks here. Union workers are not buying second and third homes and driving their Ferraris to pick up their paychecks. They are living a middle class life and, even with their supposedly high compensation packages, they struggle to pay their bills just like the rest of us.

It is remarkable how the conservatives have managed to twist the debate around on its head. The wife of a recent presidential candidate has SEVEN homes. SEVEN! Ball players make 25 million a year (which means that it now takes a couple of hundred dollars for a family of four to attend a ballgame). 25 MILLION! CEOs make 300 times the wage of their workers. 300 TIMES! The question should be is WHY is a CEO making 300 times the PAY of a schoolteacher? They work more or less the same hours and yet the CEO makes 300 TIMES MORE!!!!! Is a CEO or a ballplayer worth 300 times the salary of a good schoolteacher? I think most would say a resounding NO!

There are some that say that they earn that money. REALLY? Think about it while you pump your 5 dollar a gallon gas and contemplate the billions of dollars in profits they make paying THEIR CEOs millions of dollars a year.

If we are talking about give-backs here how about the wealthy GIVING BACK?

Do you know that many of these rich debutants we see on Entertainment tonight have never worked a day in her life? Talk about welfare queens!

I read these anti-union posts and I grimace. The problem with these posters is that you have been brainwashed for so long that you do not even know you have been brainwashed.

Republicans talk about trickle down economics, which experience has shown has NEVER worked. How about trickle UP economics? Pay everyone a decent wage and give everyone a job EVEN IF it means raising taxes on the rich. They will get their money when the middle class spends it to buy their products.

Lastly, let us take a hypothetical situation. Because of threats we must revive the draft. Can you imagine what many of these redneck conservatives would say if a parent got on television and said that YOU CAN'T TAKE MY SON OR DAUGHTER to fight for this country? They would label them traitors (that is what they did to the draft evaders during the Viet Nam conflict. Yet we have business sitting on over two trillion dollars while we have a ten per cent unemployment rate. We had AIG executives saying that they would resign if they did not receive their bonuses. Why is this not treason? Give your sons and daughter's lives for this country BUT NOT OUR MONEY!?!?!?

I said that during the Bush years this was a nation of lemmings lead by an idiot. The idiot is gone but the lemmings remain. You know they do for they are you.

Posted by: nyrunner101 | March 1, 2011 9:39 AM | Report abuse

The unions are not what they use to be. Now they only care about the money and the favors they can buy with the money. We had to have union construction workers work on our building. 3 months after completion the vanity fell off the wall, the carpeting is coming up, plus they left their mess all over the building after lunch like a bunch of pigs. We hired non-union workers to fix the mess they made, and they didn't leave anything for us to clean up!

Posted by: bailey50 | March 1, 2011 9:42 AM | Report abuse

The military should have collective bargaining rights. That is one group of federal government employees that do not have the right.
Many state of Illinois employees have no collective bargaining rights.

There is no basic American right to collective bargaining.

Posted by: win1 | March 1, 2011 10:19 AM | Report abuse

If this article title is true (by Ed the partisan hack), then the majority of Americans are morons. Why would the majority WANT their private property confiscated to pay for benefits and wages that are MORE than what they make? Seems strange that the middle income earners would want to make life better for a Govt employee while they struggle to make ends meet...seems counter to any logic.

Posted by: NO-bama | March 1, 2011 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Pollsters (Democrats) chose to ask these difficult questions in isolation to get favorable poll results for their position (big government).

Instead you must present a reasonable trade of such as, "do you favor paying higher taxes in order to preserve public employee collective bargaining?"

or "Do you favor public employee collective bargaining if it results in taxpayer paid post retirement benefits that are well above the level of the private sector?"

Posted by: ELF2 | March 1, 2011 11:08 AM | Report abuse

I would guess that most people who post comments opposing collective bargaining are not highly compensated executives. Instead of dragging down others to your under-compensated level why not point to those who earn a decent wage as the benchmark for fair compensation?

And "baltic", in WI they are not directly cutting workers' "pay", but they are significantly reducing the overall compensation package. What is the difference? It means less take-home pay. I am not weighing in on whether or not that should happen, but it is happening. You can have your own opinion, but not your own facts.

Posted by: davidhturner | March 1, 2011 11:47 AM | Report abuse

OK. The union represented politicians got destroyed last November, and now we are supposed to believe that everybody changed their minds? What a crock!!!

Posted by: kingtroll3 | March 1, 2011 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Nice Picture . Now tell me again , is it true that Obama is a Half-Breed ? He looks right at home with his buddies in that picture. The ones that show up that is . It's pretty hard getting the right exposure with all that dark. For only 12% of the Population, you can't swing a cat without hitting one of them be it on a TV set, or when a photographer is present .

Posted by: puck-101 | March 1, 2011 1:47 PM | Report abuse

I am still waiting for our president to lament the problems facing the poor. You know, those with inadequate food, shelter, jobs, or health care. Obama and the public union folks babble endlessly about how important it is for union folks to maintain their middle class life style while the poor lanquish and the private sector takes hits on salaries & fringe benefits. Public union employees live in a bubble that does not include hits to medicaid, medicare, or social security. They despise rich people unless they are George Soros, Trumpa the big union boss, or Oprey Winfry who by the way are on Obama's speed dial.

Posted by: windmill3 | March 1, 2011 3:56 PM | Report abuse

If this is so, why have there been so many people protesting that they think people who work for the public sector make more money and have better benefits than they do at taxpayers expense? I believe this very paper published several articles regarding same.

It is very easy to get these poll results if the majority of people who gave and opinion are union members. Sorry WP, I think you manufactured this data.

Posted by: sbeth1 | March 1, 2011 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Wisconsin one of 41 states where public workers earn more than workers in the private sector.

All Obama constituents appear to be sucking on the government tit.

Posted by: 2012frank | March 1, 2011 4:59 PM | Report abuse

HA! YOU CAN'T FOOL ME SLIMES. Those polls are full of bogus leading questions taken by corrupt media whose sole interest is to prop up liberal causes. LET'S SEE WHAT HAPPENS IF THEY ASK THE QUESTIONS THIS WAY:


If your state had a 3 BILLION DOLLAR DEFICIT:

(1) Do you approve or disapprove of more government spending?

(2) Do you approve or disapprove of government union workers on average making more in salary and benefits than the taxpayers who pay them?

(3) Would you favor or disapprove of government union workers paying just half in health and pension taxes than private sector employees?

(4) To cut the 3 Billion dollar deficit, do you approve or disapprove of reducing government union worker's collective bargaining rights to wages and salary; and no longer for benefits?



Crazy liberal media

Posted by: TonyV1 | March 1, 2011 7:14 PM | Report abuse

Your headline is bassackwards.

Posted by: dottydo | March 1, 2011 8:56 PM | Report abuse


The people protesting are the most selfish anti-americans around. And now they are attacking the republican representatives, filming it, and posting it to YouTube:

Everyone has sacrificed in this economy, and they are the only ones who think they are privileged. In my book, the privileged are the Military, who we should always look out for... otherwise, cuts in spending everywhere else is always on the table.

Posted by: webcontent2011 | March 2, 2011 11:59 AM | Report abuse

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