New Poll Shows 75 Percent of Connecticut Residents Support Right to Work

Poll Highlights National Employee Freedom Week, Grassroots Campaign to Educate Union Employees about their Rights

 EAST HARTFORD – A recent poll shows 75 percent of Connecticut residents support allowing union employees to leave their union without force or penalty – a concept generally referred to as Right to Work.

The Yankee Institute for Public Policy released the findings of the poll today as part of National Employee Freedom Week. In addition, the Yankee Institute will run ads on Spanish-language radio stations with the message that the recent Supreme Court decision Harris v. Quinn gives home healthcare workers the right to quit their union.

The poll, conducted by Google Consumer Surveys with a sample size of 500 Connecticut residents, asked this question: “Should employees have the right to decide, without force or penalty, whether to join or leave a labor union?”

Yankee Institute President Carol Platt Liebau said, “We believe in Connecticut workers – and that they deserve the right to choose for themselves whether to belong to a union. It’s wrong to force people to hand over their hard-earned money to any organization as a condition of employment.”

The NEFW coalition also released a poll showing 82.9 percent of Americans nationwide support the right-to-work principle. Currently, 24 states have passed right-to-work laws, which allow workers to leave their union without penalty or having to pay dues to an organization they choose not to belong to. For more information on the national poll see http://employeefreedomweek.com/survey-results/. National Employee Freedom Week (NEFW), which runs from August 10 to 16, is a grassroots campaign of 68 organizations in 40 states dedicated to helping union employees learn about their right to leave their unions.

In recognition of the impact on Connecticut labor laws of the Harris v Quinn Supreme Court decision, the Yankee Institute will run ads in three Connecticut cities on Spanish-language radio to inform home health caregivers of their right to quit their unions.

In Harris v Quinn, the Supreme Court held that the state of Illinois did not have a right to create union shops out of private homes, and could not force home healthcare workers to belong to a union or pay union dues. Because of this decision, home healthcare workers in Connecticut who were forcibly unionized two years ago will have similar rights. Having already reached out to the English-speaking population with this message, Yankee is now seeking to ensure that Spanish-language media consumers are also aware of their rights.

Unfortunately, other Connecticut union members do not yet enjoy the same freedom granted to home healthcare workers under Harris v Quinn. Connecticut residents who are part of a unionized workforce are legally obligated to hand over “agency fees” to unions even if they do not agree with or want to affiliate with the unions. Although unionized employees may “opt out” of paying for the union’s political activity, Connecticut law dictates that they may not have that money returned to them; rather, it must be transferred to a charitable organization.

Intentionally or not, the “opt out” process is unduly onerous, and burdensome for workers seeking to exercise their rights.   Accordingly, the Yankee Institute urges Connecticut to reform its labor laws to make it easier for union employees to opt-out of their union memberships completely.

“If Connecticut lawmakers are serious about getting our economy moving, they will make Connecticut a Right to Work state,” said Carol Platt Liebau, President of the Yankee Institute. “Our state’s economy is in the doldrums, and we know states with Right to Work laws attract jobs and have stronger economies. That is what we want for Connecticut – and our poll shows 75 percent of our state’s residents agree. It is time for lawmakers to listen, and act.”

Unions often do as little as is legally required to inform their employees that they have the right to opt out. But as previous NEFW polling illustrates, more than 33 percent of those in union households want to leave. Therefore, educational efforts like NEFW are necessary to inform and educate union members about their workplace rights and empower them to make the decision about union membership that’s best for them. More information is available at www.EmployeeFreedomWeek.com.

To schedule an interview with Yankee Institute President Carol Platt Liebau, contact Suzanne Bates at (860) 282-0722 or suzanne@yankeeinstitute.org.

The poll was conducted by Google Consumer Surveys, between July 11 and July 31stt 2014. It surveyed roughly 500 people and has a margin of error of approximately 3.76 percent.

 The Yankee Institute for Public Policy, Inc. is a non-partisan educational and research organization classified by the IRS as a 501(c)(3) public charity.

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