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Thread: Trouble Brewing for Politicians trying to weaken Bargaining Rights

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    Post Trouble Brewing for Politicians trying to weaken Bargaining Rights

    Regardless of our opinions on the legitimacy of polls, we all know that politicians pay attention.

    Majority in Poll Back Employees in Public Sector Unions

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/01/us...gewanted=print

    By MICHAEL COOPER and MEGAN THEE-BRENAN

    As labor battles erupt in state capitals around the nation, a majority of Americans say they oppose efforts to weaken the collective bargaining rights of public employee unions and are also against cutting the pay or benefits of public workers to reduce state budget deficits, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.

    Labor unions are not exactly popular, though: A third of those surveyed viewed them favorably, a quarter viewed them unfavorably, and the rest said they were either undecided or had not heard enough about them. But the nationwide poll found that embattled public employee unions have the support of most Americans — and most independents — as they fight the efforts of newly elected Republican governors in Wisconsin and Ohio to weaken their bargaining powers, and the attempts of governors from both parties to cut their pay or benefits.

    Americans oppose weakening the bargaining rights of public employee unions by a margin of nearly two to one: 60 percent to 33 percent. While a slim majority of Republicans favored taking away some bargaining rights, they were outnumbered by large majorities of Democrats and independents who said they opposed weakening them.

    Those surveyed said they opposed, 56 percent to 37 percent, cutting the pay or benefits of public employees to reduce deficits, breaking down along similar party lines. A majority of respondents who have no union members living in their households opposed both cuts in pay or benefits and taking away the collective bargaining rights of public employees.

    Governors in both parties have been making the case that public workers are either overpaid or have overly generous health and pension benefits. But 61 percent of those polled — including just over half of Republicans — said they thought the salaries and benefits of most public employees were either “about right” or “too low” for the work they do.

    When it came to one of the most debated, and expensive, benefits that many government workers enjoy but private sector workers do not — the ability to retire early, and begin collecting pension checks — Americans were closely divided. Forty-nine percent said police officers and firefighters should be able to retire and begin receiving pension checks even if they are in their 40s or 50s; 44 percent said they should have to be older. There was a similar divide on whether teachers should be able to retire and draw pensions before they are 65.

    The nationwide telephone poll was conducted Feb. 24-27 with 984 adults and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points for all adults. Of those surveyed, 20 percent said there was a union member in their household, and 25 percent said there was a public employee in their household.

    Tax increases were not as unpopular among those surveyed as they are among many governors, who have vowed to avoid them. Asked how they would choose to reduce their state’s deficits, those polled preferred tax increases over benefit cuts for state workers by nearly two to one. Given a list of options to reduce the deficit, 40 percent said they would increase taxes, 22 percent chose decreasing the benefits of public employees, 20 percent said they would cut financing for roads and 3 percent said they would cut financing for education.

    The most contentious issue to emerge in the recent labor battles has been the question of collective bargaining rights. A proposal by Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin to weaken them sent Democratic state lawmakers out of state to prevent a vote, flooded the Capitol in Madison with thousands of protesters and sparked a national discussion about unions.

    The poll found that an overwhelming 71 percent of Democrats opposed weakening collective bargaining rights. But there was also strong opposition from independents: 62 percent of them said they opposed taking bargaining rights away from public employee unions.

    Phil Merritt, 67, a retired property manager from Crossville, Tenn., who identifies himself as an independent, explained in a follow-up interview why he opposed weakening bargaining rights for public workers. “I just feel they do a job that needs to be done, and in our country today if you work hard, then you should be able to have a home, be able to save for retirement and you should be able to send your kids to college,” he said. “Most public employees have to struggle to do those things, and generally both spouses must work.”

    The one group that favors weakening those rights, by a slim majority, was Republicans. Warren Lemma, 56, an electrical contractor from Longview, Tex., said states did not have the money to pay for many benefits that state workers enjoy.

    “Retirement benefits should not be taken away from those about to retire, but the system should be changed for the people starting to teach just now,” said Mr. Lemma, a Republican. “And the only way the system will change is to do something about unions and their control, and the only way to do that is to take away collective bargaining.”

    The poll found that 45 percent of those surveyed said they believed that governors and state lawmakers who are trying to reduce the pay or benefits of public workers were doing so to reduce budget deficits, while 41 percent said they thought they were doing so to weaken unions’ power.

    Although cutting the pay or benefits of public workers was opposed by people in all income groups, it had the most support from people earning over $100,000 a year. In that income group, 45 percent said they favored cutting pay or benefits, while 49 percent opposed it. In every other income group, a majority opposed cutting pay or benefits: Among those making between $15,000 and $30,000, for instance, 35 percent said they favored cutting pay or benefits, while 60 percent opposed it.

    Labor unions, including private sector labor unions, are seen as less influential now than they were three decades ago. The poll found that 37 percent of those surveyed believe that labor unions have “too much influence” on American life and politics, while 48 percent said they had the “right amount” or “too little” influence. In a 1981 poll, by contrast — soon after President Ronald Reagan fired striking air traffic controllers — 60 percent of those surveyed said unions had “too much influence.” Of course, union membership has declined since then.

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    And its not even overly popular with republicans as only a slim majority favored taking away some bargaining rights.

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    Quote Originally Posted by intelligentjetsfan View Post
    And its not even overly popular with republicans as only a slim majority favored taking away some bargaining rights.
    When you infiltrate EVERY family with a civil servant who provides the security blanket of lifetime pension and health insurance...this is the result.

    Don't think for a moment this wasn't past of the unions long term vision. A civil servant in EVERY home.

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    Trouble brewing for States and towns that continue to give away the store to Unions at the expense of taxpayers.

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    It would be nice to have a rational discussion, with compromises, about this (not here, out in the real world), but that will never happen.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Winstonbiggs View Post
    Trouble brewing for States and towns that continue to give away the store to Unions at the expense of taxpayers.
    This.

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    I'll take election results (one way or the other), rather than a poll of 984 adults, with questionable tactics in phrasing of questions and sample demograhics.

    If the changes pass, and the people do not like those changes, they can vote in people who run on undoing them in the next cycle.

    I.e. Democracy (well, representative republic).

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    Quote Originally Posted by southparkcpa View Post
    When you infiltrate EVERY family with a civil servant who provides the security blanket of lifetime pension and health insurance...this is the result.

    Don't think for a moment this wasn't past of the unions long term vision. A civil servant in EVERY home.
    I know a lot of guys who rely on their wives benefits because they are business owners and they couldn't make it without those benefits.

    I love how because the private sector only wants to pay a good wage to the top and healthcare is a commodity that is destroying our economy we have all decided unions are evil.

    The unions in Wisconsin willfully gave Gov. Walker what he wanted, they took less money and agreed to pay more, but that wasn't enough. Walker was will to exclude unions who supported him, give me a break this is political BS at its finest.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Winstonbiggs View Post
    Trouble brewing for States and towns that continue to give away the store to Unions at the expense of taxpayers.
    Except it isn't only the states and towns with unions that are in trouble.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cr726 View Post
    The unions in Wisconsin willfully gave Gov. Walker what he wanted, they took less money and agreed to pay more, but that wasn't enough.
    Exactly. But no one seems to want to point out that they conceded to what he proposed.

    Just goes to show that balancing the state budget wasn't what Walker was shooting for....

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