A majority of California voters think labor unions do more harm than good, according to a new Field Research Company poll.
The survey showed that 45 percent of voters think unions are harmful
, compared to 40 percent who say they favor unions, according to the independent Field Poll, released Friday.
The results flipped from a little over two years ago, when 46 percent of voters thought labor unions were good, compared to 35 percent who did not.
But even though public opinion on unions has shifted, the 1,002 registered voters in the poll believe, by 47 percent, that transit workers should be able to go on strike, while 44 percent do not.
Voters in the San Francisco Bay area, who were affected by Bay Area Rapid Transit strikes in July and October, and who are facing a third strike, were more likely than other voters to oppose transit worker strikes, the poll conducted between Nov. 14 and Dec. 5 shows.
According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, the turn in opinion may be a backlash to bankruptcies
in three California cities — Stockton, Vallejo, and San Bernardino.
Government workers' retirement costs are being blamed, and Field pollster Mark DiCamillo said the notion that "public pensions are starting to crowd out the services that local governments can provide" doesn't "sit well with the public."
The voters were also against public employee labor unions, the poll found, with 44 percent believing they do more harm than good, and 39 percent approving of them.
There were large differences of opinion among different subgroups of voters. Democrats, liberals, voters living in union affiliated households, Latinos, African Americans, and those younger than 30, said labor unions do more good than harm.
Meanwhile, Republicans, conservatives, men, whites, non-Hispanics, voters aged 50-64, and Southern Californians who do not live in Los Angeles, were against unions. In addition, people living in homes where breadwinners do not belong to a union do not approve of unions.
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