Commonwealth Foundation Poll: Union Households Support Paycheck Protection

cfA poll commissioned by the Commonwealth Foundation and conducted by Susquehanna Polling and Research found that union members and households support a policy that union leaders loudly oppose.

Paycheck Protection is shorthand for policies that prohibit automatic deductions from union members’ paychecks to pay union dues. As the law currently stands, government employee union dues are automatically paid via state government payroll services, much like the way taxes are deducted.

Unions won the ability to automatically deduct at the bargaining table and argue that it directly impacts their ability to operate.

The Commonwealth Foundation poll found that, of union households, 80% don’t think taxpayer resources should be used to collect campaign contributions, 72% think unions should collect dues themselves, and 58% support paycheck protection legislation.

88% of respondents said their dues were automatically deducted.

“These survey results demonstrate union members themselves don’t want to be a part of the misuse of taxpayer resources,” said Matthew Brouillette, president and CEO of the Commonwealth Foundation.

The Commonwealth Foundation is a self-described free market think tank that supports conservative economic policies. Susquehanna Polling and Research is a Republican polling firm.

In the case of any poll commissioned by an interest group, the results should be taken with a grain of salt.

The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center was not entirely convinced by the findings.

“This is really about weakening the voice of working families and lowering the wages of all workers, non-union as well as union. That’s why bills like this are often called “right to work for less,’” Executive Director of the Keystone Research Center and economist Stephen Herzenberg told PoliticsPA. “It’s easy to get lost in the weeds on this issue, which makes credible polling difficult. What is clear is that once voters understand that this is another power grab by folks who want the top 1% to have more economic and political clout, they will oppose it.”

The poll uses charged language favored by the Commonwealth Foundation. For example, the pollster asked:

“Do you agree or disagree with this statement: ‘A law preventing unions from using public resources to collect dues from its members will empower individual teachers and workers to have greater control over how their money is spent on politics’.”

65% agreed, compared to 25% who disagreed.

Had a union or left-leaning group commissioned the poll, the question might have sounded closer to this “Would you support an effort by Republican lawmakers to suppress the ability of your union to operate?”

The results weren’t entirely anti-union; 75% of respondents said that their union represents their interests some or most of the time.

50% of respondents belonged to public sector unions, 46% to private sector and 4% to both. 80% of them had belonged to the union for 10 or more years.

Respondents were typically older; 28% over 65, 31% between 55-64, 24% between 45-54.

SP&R polled 401 union households from 2/6 – 2/9 via landlines and cell phones. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.88%.

9 Responses

  1. Wait a second… are you suggesting that a conservative think tank hired a Republican firm to conduct a poll that confirmed their own preconceived notions?! STOP THE PRESSES!

    I don’t know of a less accurate polling group than Susquehanna… they had Romney ahead by 4 points in October 2012. If memory serves, they had Linda Thompson winning the primary. They are more propagandist than pollster and are certainly fond of Karl Rove’s feel good “Republican math”.

  2. People are having a hard time making ends meet and that includes people in unions. This proposal would put more money from their paycheck in their pockets. What rational person would not choose to have more money at their own disposal in tough times? Income has been stagnant or declining for most working people for 30 plus years when considered in light of daily expenses. Unions exist to raise workers standard of living. This poll result perhaps reflects the failure of the primary role of the union as an institution in society.

  3. “The Commonwealth Foundation is a self-described free market think tank that supports CONSERVATIVE economic policies.”

    “Susquehanna Polling and Research is a REPUBLICAN polling firm.”

    “The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center was not entirely convinced by the findings.”

    Given your obsession with identifying viewpoint bias, care to add that the PBPC is a LIBERAL think tank affiliated with the AFL-CIO? (See, e.g., )

  4. Anyone who thinks unions are a relic of the past are mistaken. Women in unions enjoy equal pay for equal work.The discussion should begin with lousy and poorly trained management .

  5. This is like saying “80% of people are against using taxpayer funding to determine partisan political contests, so therefore 80% of people are against democracy.”

    Push poll AT BEST.

  6. Unions are a relic of the 20th Century. The only people that benefit from unions are the people that run them and their political allies. The vote at the VW plant speaks volumes. Unions are job killers; the UAW went from 1.4 million members to 400K. The best thing for PA would to become a Right to Work state.

  7. This is an obvious Push Poll at it’s finest. Q1 Should taxpayer resources be used to collect campaign contributions?

    If CF is going to ask that sort of question, why not ask “Do you think only the richest 1% should have access to elected officials?”

  8. LOLOLololol… I am laughing so hard my sides hurt! The Orwellian nonsense going on here is palpable! PoliticsPA ahould be ashamed of itself for reprinting a propaganda press release verbatim without an ounceof fact checking.

    Fact One: Commonwealth foundation is a member of the State Policy Network, the action arm of ALEC, and it is entirely funded from OUTSIDE Pennsylvania – look it up!

    Fact Two: “Paycheck Protection” is propaganda speak for Destroy Unions, and the questions in this Classic Push Poll were designed to get one answer, and one answer only. If they had instead asked, more truthfully, “Do you support billionaire-backed laws that are guaranteed and designed to decrease your salary and benefits?” I guarantte the results would have been diametrically opposite.

    PoliticsPA, you really fell down on this one.

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