Friday, July 08, 2005

Are unions making a comeback in public opinion?

A recent survey by the Survey and Policy Research Institute at San Jose State University found that
although 36% of voters — including 53% of Republicans — say they'd like to see unions have less influence in California, 56% of voters say they'd prefer for unions have as much or more influence as they have today. …

SPRI asked voters whom they would be more likely to support in a battle over school spending: Schwarzenegger or teacher and school administrators. California voters say they would side with teachers and school administrators by a margin of two to one — 60% to 31%.

That is explained in part by the finding that when they consider teachers' impact on California, 62% of the voters think of teachers as classroom instructors and only 20% of them think of them as union members.

"Attempts to frame the political debate in California as a battle between Gov.
Schwarzenegger and his reforms on the one hand versus greedy unions and special interests on the other hand have yet to gain much traction," said SPRI Director Phil Trounstine.

SPRI tested 22 different "special interests," but found that the term had no consistent meaning to voters who did not distinguish, for example, among nurses, HMOs, teachers, financial institutions, trial lawyers, oil companies or fire fighters. Even referring to "greedy special interests that have too much power in Sacramento" in one round of interviewing did not help voters distinguish among various interests.
So perhaps this means that the public just isn't paying attention to anything. This needs more work. It would be nice if unions did a better job of PR for themselves.

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