Byron York in the Washington Examiner:
This Labor Day brings word of a new Gallup poll showing that American public support for labor unions has taken a sharp dive in the last year and is at its lowest point since Gallup began polling in 1936.
In response to the question, “Do you approve or disapprove of labor unions?” just 48 percent of respondents said they approve, while 45 percent said they disapprove. That’s a steep fall from August 2008, when the numbers were 59 percent approve, 31 percent disapprove, and it’s the first time approval of unions has ever fallen below 50 percent.
Before this year, American support for unions had remained remarkably stable for nearly four decades. In August 2001, in the first months of George W. Bush’s presidency, Gallup’s results for the same question were 60 percent approve, 32 percent disapprove. In August 1997, in Bill Clinton’s second term, they were 60-31. In 1985, during Ronald Reagan’s presidency, the figures were 58-27. In 1978, during Jimmy Carter’s time in the White House, they were 59-31. And in 1972, during Richard Nixon’s, they were 60-27.
Labor support had much more interesting internals. Not surprisingly, the biggest booster among demographics came from government workers, who support unions 68%, with strong support at 27%. Majority support also comes from blacks, Democrats, both men and women under 40 (although not men overall), private contractors, unmarrieds and those without children, and workers who made less than $20K as well as those making between $60-100K.
However, most of those majorities are very thin indeed. Five years ago, Gallup had overall support for unions at 65%, for a drop of 17 points in five years. Rasmussen’s internals only show four demographics with support at 60% or better:
- Government workers – 68%
- Democrats – 64%
- Blacks – 63%
- Under $20K income – 60%
All of those numbers look fairly anemic, but especially Democrats. The unions practically keep them in business, and yet 24% of them see unions unfavorably, with 11% unsure. Those numbers are not a fluke; Gallup has almost the same number for support among Democrats, 66%.
James Sherk at Heritage:
Why have average Americans become deeply suspicious of the self-proclaimed defenders of average Americans? Perhaps because over the past year unions have shown both that they harm the companies they organize and that they no less selfish than the CEOs they criticize.
The United Auto Workers (UAW) contracts drove General Motors off a financial cliff, as any observer could see. Unions destroyed what was once America’s largest and most successful company. Labor then used its political clout to successfully press for taxpayer bailouts of the Big Three. Most taxpayers opposed seeing their tax dollars preserving the earnings of union members earning triple that of the average worker.
And then there is Organized Labor’s well publicized political agenda. The misnamed Employee Free Choice Act would effectively strip workers of their right to a secret ballot election. Unions very publicly want Congress to take away workers rights. Organized labor has lead the fight for government dominated healthcare – an unpopular position, to say the least. They have fought to repeal financial transparency measures that allow workers to hold their unions accountable.
Over the past year organized labor has repeatedly put its own self interest above the rights of workers and the common good. No wonder the number of Americans toasting labor unions this Labor Day has fallen.
John Hinderaker at Powerline
bs at Redstate