The latest Pew Research Survey has found that as Republican governors has been busting unions over the last two years, union favorability has risen from 41% to 51%.
According to Pew, support for unions has risen most among liberal Democrats (67% to 80%), moderate to conservative Democrats (56%-70%), moderate to liberal Republicans (34%-44%), and Independents (36%-44%). Union support has fallen slightly with conservative Republicans (24%-23%).
With income inequality reaching historic levels, it’s no surprise that many Americans who were swayed away from unions by decades of Republican union bashing are beginning to appreciate the benefits of collective bargaining. It is not a coincidence that rising support for unions comes at the same time that Republicans have been waging a full assault on collective bargaining.
The message is that once again, the conservative Republicans who are guiding the Republican Party are massively out of step with the rest of the country.
It turns out that the rest of America doesn’t hate unions as much as the Republican Party does. (This doesn’t bode well for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s dreams of being elected president in 2016.) Union busting may play well within the Republican Party, but the Koch fueled anti-union agenda is turning more Americans against the GOP, and back towards supporting unions.
The landscape in the private sector is still difficult for unions. Union membership continues to decline. Federal enforcement of labor laws is so weak that corporate giants such as Walmart flaunt the law with impunity. But if things are ever going to change, unions are going to need popular support. When Americans support unions, it becomes more difficult for political leaders to look the other way.
Public support is the first step needed on the path to rebuilding the labor movement in this country. The conservative Democrats and moderate Republicans that Ronald Reagan wooed with the language of union busting are starting to swing back into the pro-labor column. As Americans rethink their opinions on unions, Republicans are shooting themselves in the foot by trying to dismantle the public sector backbone of organized labor.
The bills are coming due, and the Republican Party may pay a heavy price for their inequality creating/union busting ways.