(Harrisburg) -- A number of union-related issues are currently before the Pennsylvania General Assembly, and a new poll by the Lincoln Institute of Public Opinion Research, Inc. finds voters across the commonwealth are in the mood for significant reforms. From elimination of the state's antiquated Prevailing Wage law, to halting the collection of union dues by governments and school districts, to putting an end to exemptions allowing business and labor unions to stalk, harass or threaten to use a weapon of mass destruction during labor disputes, Keystone State voters say the time for change has arrived.
Pennsylvania law actually has exemptions that would permit either side in a labor dispute — the employer or the union — to engage in tactics that otherwise would be clearly illegal. Included among the tactics allowed during a labor dispute are stalking, harassment, and the making of threats to use a weapon of mass destruction. Eighty-four percent of those polled by the Lincoln Institute said they favor making it illegal for either business or labor to engage in such activities during a labor dispute. Of that number, 69% strongly supported criminalizing such activities. A total of 16% said they support the current law.
Prevailing Wage reform has become a key bargaining point in ongoing negotiations toward arriving at a new transportation funding bill. Prevailing Wage applies to all public construction projects such as roads, bridges, and schools costing more than $25,000 funded by tax dollars. The law basically requires the highest union level wage be paid on all such projects. Seventy-one percent of the poll respondents said they felt market conditions should be allowed to determine labor rates, 29% favored retaining the current law.
The current push in the state House is to raise the ceiling on projects falling under Prevailing Wage from $25,000 to $100,000. Seventy-five percent of the Lincoln Institute poll respondents support such an increase while 25% are in opposition.
It is the current practice of state government as well as many county and municipal governments and school districts to collect union dues via payroll deduction for their bargaining units. Lawmakers are considering a bill that would require unions to collect such dues on their own. Sixty-two percent of those participating in the poll said they support such a change in the law, 38% felt such dues collection by government should continue.
A number of states, including Michigan and Indiana have recently adopted Right-to-Work laws which have dramatically improved their state's business climates. Such a law, which would mean a worker could not be compelled to join or pay fees to a labor union as a condition of employment, is proposed for Pennsylvania. Voters polled by the Lincoln Institute support enactment of such a law by a three-to-one margin. Seventy-seven percent support enactment of a Right-to-Work law, with 57% saying they strongly support such legislation. A total of 23% opposed enactment of a Right-to-Work law.
The Lincoln Institute's Pulse Poll on union issues was conducted electronically from October 28th through October 31, 2013. A total of 404 registered voters residing within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania participated in the poll. Complete numeric results are available here.