Center for American Progress

Public Backs Collective Bargaining Rights for State Workers

Public Backs Collective Bargaining Rights for State Workers

The public understands that stripping collective bargaining rights for workers has nothing to do with reducing state deficits, writes Ruy Teixeira.

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Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker seeks to eliminate collective bargaining rights for state workers. He claims this change is necessary to bring Wisconsin’s budget under control. But a simpler explanation is that he’s deeply conservative, doesn’t like unions, and sees a budget crisis as a perfect opportunity to get rid of them. The public, he reasoned, would take his side against the “greedy” unions. That doesn’t seem to be happening.

In a just-released USA Today/Gallup poll, an overwhelming majority (61-33) say they would oppose a bill in their state to take away public union bargaining rights as Walker aims to do in Wisconsin.

Clearly the public isn’t buying the rationale that taking away collective bargaining rights is somehow a necessary part of reducing budget deficits. Respondents in a just-released Greenberg Quinlan Rosner poll of Wisconsin residents were asked whether state workers should also have their collective bargaining rights taken away if they were willing to pay more for health and retirement benefits. The answer was no by a thunderous 71-24.

Gov. Scott Walker should wake up and realize that what he’s trying to do is a bridge too far in the public’s eyes. Sure, public workers should be willing to make some sacrifices in a budget crunch—we all should be willing to—but taking away their bargaining rights is not fair and the public knows it.

Ruy Teixeira is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. To learn more about his public opinion analysis go to the Media and Progressive Values page and the Progressive Studies program page of our website.

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Ruy Teixeira

Former Senior Fellow

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