Striking auto workers see more support than Detroit carmakers in new poll

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Striking auto workers are drawing more public support than the Detroit carmakers as their strike approaches the one-month mark later this week, a new poll found.

The Associated Press-NORC poll found 36 percent of US adults sympathize with the United Auto Workers’ strike against Detroit’s three automakers, while 26 percent are sympathetic toward both sides and 27 percent sympathize with neither side. Only 9 percent sympathized more with the automakers.

While noting the support fell short of the 55 percent support for striking Hollywood writers and actors in an AP-NORC poll last month, The Associated Press said its most recent poll is further evidence of the growing pro-union sentiment across the country.

The poll found 51 percent of adults think labor unions do more to help than hurt US workers, but are less likely to say unions help the US economy as a whole or US businesses.

This year has seen several historic union efforts, including the simultaneous Hollywood strikes, the Kaiser Permanente health care workers strike, the averted Teamsters strike against UPS, and now the strike by UAW workers against the “Big Three” — Ford, Stellantis, and General Motors — which began last month following failed negotiation talks.

The union is asking for wage increases, cost-of-living pay raises, a 32-hour work week with 40 hours of pay, union representation of workers at new battery plants and restoration of traditionally-defined benefit pensions for new hires.

The poll found the majority of adults, or 60 percent, said increased pay for autoworkers is a good thing, compared to only 9 percent who said it was a bad thing. A little over a third, or 38 percent, said the four-day work week for autoworkers is a good thing.

The union has also expressed concerns over the Biden administration’s push for electric vehicles (EVs), which they say puts autoworkers’ jobs at risk. The poll found about a third, or 35 percent, support the requirement that EVs and EV parts be made by union workers.

President Biden joined the UAW’s picket lines late last month, marking the first time a sitting president has done so. Only a quarter of adults said they strongly or somewhat approve of Biden’s handling of the UAW’s dispute with automakers, while 34 percent said they strongly or somewhat disapprove and 39 percent said they feel neither.

Trump, who spoke at a rally in Michigan the following day, received even lower marks. About 19 percent said they strongly or somewhat approve of his handling of the dispute, while 39 percent said they strongly or somewhat disapprove and 38 percent said neither.

Since the political rivals’ visits, the UAW has expanded its ongoing strikes multiple times. On Wednesday, the union said around 8,700 workers from a Ford truck plant in Kentucky joined the strike in the wake of Ford’s refusal to negotiate further bargaining demands.

With the numerous expansions, a total of nearly 34,000 UAW workers are on strike nationwide.

The poll was conducted Oct. 5-9, 2023 among 1,163 adults. The margin of sampling error is 3.9 percentage points.

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