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Harris Poll: Most Americans Critical Of Unions

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DETROIT (WWJ) – A recent Harris Poll found that most Americans were critical of unions, while crediting them for improving wages and working conditions.

Labor unions are something that divide people. On one hand, a majority of Americans give labor unions credit for improving wages and working conditions for workers (65%).

However, at the same time, most Americans also are very critical of labor unions which are seen as being to be too involved in politics (72%) and more concerned with fighting changes than trying to bring about change (71%).

Almost two-thirds (65%) of adults agree that unions improve wages and working conditions of workers. A higher 72% of people who live in union households agree with this.

Over seven in ten believe that unions are too involved in politics (72%), are more concerned with fighting change than with trying to bring about change (71%) and stifle individual initiative (63%).

People in union households are somewhat less critical though majorities of union households still feel unions are too involved in politics (60%) and are more concerned about fighting change (63%). Further, a significant number of union families agree that unions stifle individual initiative (46%).

A majority of all adults (59%) disagree that unions work to get legislation that helps all working people, whether they are union members or not. Conversely, union members are more supportive of unions’ efforts relating to legislation. Over half (55%) think unions work to get legislation that helps all working people.

By 62% to 38% a majority of Americans disagree that unions give members their money’s worth for the dues they pay. Only 47% of union members agree with this sentiment.

This new Harris Poll shows that nationally, many people are very critical of labor union activities – even among union households they are seen as being too political.

Unions do receive some credit for helping to improve conditions for workers but this traditional positive role doesn’t offset the negatives. Still, unions and their ability to mobilize resources – often for Democratic candidates – will be an important element for President Obama as we approach 2012 election year.

The poll was conducted online within the United States between August 8 to 15, 2011 among 2,450 adults (aged 18 and over).

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