10.31.2010 0

Unions Spend Too Much Time on Politics, Not Enough on their Membership, Poll Shows

  • On: 11/05/2010 08:57:12
  • In: Big Labor
  • By Kevin Mooney

    2010 voters have more faith and confidence in business owners to recharge the economy than they do in the leadership of organized labor, according to a survey from Public Opinion Strategies. Moreover, the poll points to a growing concern on the part of voters that union officials spend too much time on politics and not enough on the concerns and interests of their members.

    The survey, which included 1,000 participants, probed into the perceptions voters have of business and organized labor. A clear majority said union activities undermine the economy and that the views of union leadership are not representative of the rank and file membership.

    There is no escaping the concern voters have over prevailing economic conditions and how this relates back to union influence.

    In fact, mid-term election voters think unions should focus on their members,” a POS press release explained. “Voters provide resounding agreement to the idea that ‘unions should place a higher priority on meeting the day to day needs of their members, rather than trying to affect the outcome of elections.’ A full 85 percent agree with this view and two-thirds (66 percent) strongly agree). Only 13 percent disagree.”

    The release continues, “Two-thirds (66 percent) of 2010 voters who identify themselves as supporters of labor unions agree that unions should focus on the day to day needs of members, rather than on elections. In addition, 91 percent of Republicans, 92 percent of Independents and 76 percent of Democrats agree with this view as well. This may in part be due to the fact that voters do not perceive national union leaders as ‘representative of average union members.’ More than three-in-five voters (63 percent) agree with this statement, while just 28 percent disagree. Four-in-ten union supporters (42 percent) also agree with this view.”

    Poll results were also dismissive of union endorsements, which did not have a decisive impact on voters. By contrast, small business owners and business leaders were viewed quite favorably.

    The release noted, “The disparity in the levels of confidence to recommend the best actions for the economy is striking, because it is so widespread. Across every region of the country, with men and women, with all age groups and all income levels, voters express greater confidence in small business and business leaders than in labor union leaders. The 18 percent of voters who identified themselves as supports of labor unions are the ONLY sub-group among which confidence in union leaders exceeded that in business leaders or small business owners (88 percent, 66 percent and 85 percent great deal/fair amount of confidence, respectively).”

    “When it comes to recommending the right things to improve the economy, voters are much more likely to have confidence in small business owners and business leaders than in labor union leaders,” POS concluded.

    The lesson here for newly elected members of Congress is to resist costly legislative measures favored by organized labor, a top official with the Chamber of Commerce warned.

    “Whether on bills like card check or regulatory mandates from the National Labor Relations Board, voters will hold new members accountable for supporting any action that hampers economic recovery,” said Glenn Spencer, executive director of the Workforce Freedom Initiative. “Voters’ message is clear: you will get no free pass on job-killing labor mandates.”

    Although the electorate credits unions for improvements made to working conditions in the past, there is a now sense that their influence has become unbalanced and counterproductive, according the poll.

    “In fact, seven-in-ten voters say that despite their positive impact in the past, unions contributed to our economic problems as a nation,” the release says. “Fully 71 percent of voters who participated in the election agree with a statement that says that ‘Unions have played a vital role in promoting safety and a good quality of life for many American workers. But, unions also tilted the system so far in their favor that it has contributed to our economic problems.’ Nearly half (48 percent) strongly agree with this view, and only 25 percent disagree.”

    All of which may not bode well, especially for public sector unions, when Congress reconvenes in 2011.

    Kevin Mooney is a contributing editor to Americans for Limited Government (ALG) News Bureau.


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