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Pew Finds Plummeting Confidence in Labor Unions

10:48 AM, Feb 24, 2010 • By MARY KATHARINE HAM
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This week, the White House floated the idea of putting the SEIU's Andy Stern on its deficit commission. Presumably because labor unions are renowned for their skill in holding down costs.

Earlier this year, the labor boss showed up at the White House so often as to raise lobbying legal concerns, reported on by CNN.

When Democrats were considering a tax on so-called "Cadillac" health-care plans, the most lavish of which have been snagged by unions, union bosses promptly marched into the White House to have an exception carved out for them.

So, what might the American people think of all this fraternization? According to Pew:

Favorable views of labor unions have plummeted since 2007, amid growing public skepticism about unions’ purpose and power. Currently, 41% say they have a favorable opinion of labor unions while about as many (42%) express an unfavorable opinion. In January 2007, a clear majority (58%) had a favorable view of unions while just 31% had an unfavorable impression.

Among all-important independents?

Still, far more Democrats have favorable views of unions (56%) than do independents (38%) or Republicans (29%).

This echoes the shift among even union members in the Massachusetts Senate election. Union members defied leadership and voted for Republican Scott Brown in what an AFL-CIO pollster dubbed "a working-class revolt."

A poll conducted on behalf of the AFL-CIO found that 49% of Massachusetts union households supported Mr. Brown in Tuesday's voting, while 46% supported Democrat Martha Coakley. The poll conducted by Hart Research Associates surveyed 810 voters.

The finding, disclosed during an AFL-CIO conference call about the poll, represents a fresh problem for Democrats, who count on union leaders and union members as a pillar of the party's base.

Luckily, DNC spokesperson Brad Woodhouse thinks it would be "foolhardy" to draw conclusions from the Brown election, and the AFL-CIO thinks moving ahead with a "very progressive political program" is the remedy for this break between union leadership and membership.

 

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