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Quinnipiac poll: Ohio voters oppose limits on collective bargaining for public employees, poll finds

The Quinnipiac University poll also shows voters in Ohio disapprove of the performance of Gov. John Kasich, who is proposing limits on bargaining by public employees as the state struggles to balance the budget.

March 23, 2011|By Michael Muskal | Los Angeles Times

Ohio voters oppose efforts to limit collective bargaining by public employees and disapprove of newly elected Gov. John Kasich’s performance, according to the Quinnipiac University poll released on Wednesday.

Like several other states in the Midwest, Ohio has been a battleground over GOP efforts to limit bargaining by public employees as the state has wrestled with budget woes. Kasich has proposed a two-year, $55.5-billion budget that calls for selling five prisons and cutting funds to most state agencies. He also backs a bill that would restrict collective bargaining by state workers, an issue that roiled Wisconsin for weeks and is pending in the courts.

According to the poll, Ohio voters disapprove of the way Kasich is handling his job by 46% to 30%. Women, by 48% to 25% are more likely to disapprove than men, 44% to 37%.

“Gov. John Kasich has gotten off to a rocky start with Ohio voters, perhaps not surprising given the size of the cuts in public services and state spending that he has proposed,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling institute. “Although there is almost nothing in these numbers that Kasich can point to as evidence of his popularity or that of his proposals, he can take solace from the fact that he has almost four years to turn around public opinion.”

On collective bargaining, the numbers varied depending on how the question was asked. Half of those surveyed were asked about a bill that limited “collective bargaining” and the rest asked about a measure that curbed “collective bargain rights.”  

When the word rights was added, the opposition increased. According to the poll, voters by 48% to 41% opposed limiting collective bargaining, but adding the word rights increased the opposition to 54% to 35% favoring the bill.

 “Whether collective bargaining is a right or not is in the eye of the beholder, but the word ‘right’ appears to have an effect on the voters’ response,” Brown said in an statement. “But no matter how the question is asked, voters oppose limits on collective bargaining.”

The Ohio bill would limit bargaining for government workers to wages, hours and working conditions. It would eliminate binding arbitration, prohibit strikes by public workers and set rules for contributions by employees for healthcare and pension benefits.

The poll of 1,384 registered voters was conducted March 15 to 21. The margin of error is plus or minus 2.6 percentage points.

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