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Latest News - September 2011

September 16, 2011
48% See No Further Need for Labor Unions, 30% Disagree
Source: Rasmussen reports

Half of American Adults (48%) think labor unions have outlasted their usefulness, but there’s a sharp difference of opinion between Republicans and Democrats on the question.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that only 30% disagree and say that unions have not outlived their role. Twenty-one percent (21%) are not sure. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

These findings are consistent with attitudes found two years ago.  At that time, 45% said labor unions actually make America weaker, while 26% believed they make the country stronger and 13% said they have no impact.

Yet while 68% of Republicans and 54% of adults not affiliated with either of the major political parties believe unions have outlived their usefulness, 52% of Democrats still see a need for them.

Among working Americans who do not belong to a union, just 13% would like to join a labor union where they work. That’s up slightly from nine percent in March 2009.  Seventy-eight percent (78%) would not like to join a union.

The survey of 1,000 Adults was conducted on September 13-14, 2011 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

Data released a couple of weeks ago shows that 45% of adults have at least a somewhat favorable opinion of unions, with 18% Very Favorable.  Forty-eight percent (48%) viewed unions at least somewhat unfavorably, including 23% with a Very Unfavorable opinion.

Forty-six percent (46%) of Americans think it is at least somewhat difficult for workers to form a union in a non-unionized company, with 22% who say it is Very Difficult. Twenty-three percent (23%) feel it is not very or not at all difficult to form a union. Nearly one-in-three (31%), however, are not sure.

In March 2009, unions and congressional Democrats were pushing for the elimination of secret ballots in elections to create unions. At that time, 57% felt it was difficult to unionize a non-union company, and only 19% disagreed. 

Democrats are far more likely than Republicans and unaffiliated adults to think it is difficult for workers to form a union. Just five percent (5%) of both Republicans and unaffiliateds would like to belong to a labor union where they work, compared to 34% of Democrats.

Fifty-nine percent (59%) of investors believe unions have outlasted their usefulness, a view shared by only 36% of non-investors. Those who work for private companies are nearly twice as likely as government employees to think unions have had their day.

Members of public employee unions prefer Democrats over Republicans on the Generic Congressional Ballot by a 28-percentage-point margin.  Among private sector union members, the gap is half that size.  

The federal National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is investigating Boeing’s plan to operate a non-union plant in South Carolina as possible retaliation against the company’s existing union. But Americans strongly believe Boeing has the right to open the plant in South Carolina.



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