Poll: Union Leaders Out of Touch, Too Powerful

Poll: Union Leaders Out of Touch, Too Powerful

Just 25% of Current or Former Union Members Say Union Leaders Represent Workers Well

August 11, 2016, HARRISBURG, Pa.—Out of touch. Too powerful. Poor representatives. This is how the majority of voters—and even current and former union members—describe union leaders. Why? Pennsylvania provides a perfect explanation.

According to a new Rasmussen poll, most voters nationwide believe union leaders wield too much political influence and are out of touch with their members. Just 25% of current and former union members think union leaders represent their members well.

“Pennsylvania is a prime example of why voters and even union members are frustrated by union leaders’ out-sized political influence,” commented Elizabeth Stelle, director of policy for the Commonwealth Foundation. “For more than a decade, government union leaders have blocked commonsense reforms to the state’s massively indebted public pensions, resulting in skyrocketing property taxes across the state. They’ve also killed major efforts to privatize the state’s Prohibition-era liquor system—reform favored by the majority of Pennsylvanians, including union members.

“Government union leaders’ influence in the state capitol should come as no surprise: The deck is stacked in their favor. Not only can they force workers to pay the union as a condition of employment, but they also tap public resources to collect millions in campaign contributions.”

Meanwhile, once elected, Pennsylvania’s government unions are never required to stand for re-election. As a result, less than 1 percent of Pennsylvania schoolteachers represented by a union today had the opportunity to vote for that union.

The same is true of other major public sector unions, including AFSCME, SEIU 668, and UFCW 1776, where only a handful of current members had the opportunity to vote on union representation.

“Union leaders claim to speak for working people, but the numbers show they’re speaking a different language,” Stelle continued. “This poll should be a compelling impetus for ending special privileges for government unions and holding them accountable to their members and to the taxpayers. Ending state collection of government union political money via paycheck protection, requiring unions to regularly stand for re-election, and ending forced-unionism are all reforms that would empower workers to demand better from out of touch union leaders.” 

Elizabeth Stelle and other Commonwealth Foundation experts are available for comment. Please contact Gina Diorio at 862-703-6670 or [email protected] to schedule an interview.

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The Commonwealth Foundation transforms free-market ideas into public policies so all Pennsylvanians can flourish.