Members of SAG-AFTRA and WGA rally on the picket line in Los Angeles on July 14, 2023.
(Photo: David McNew/Getty Images)

As GOP Hopefuls Champion Union-Busting, Poll Shows Majority in US Support Striking Workers

"For the first time in a generation the labor movement is held in high esteem by the American public. It is widely understood that working people need the protections only collective bargaining can provide."

Even as Republicans vying for the 2024 presidential nomination publicly promote their union-busting vision for the country, a new poll shows that U.S. voters across the political spectrum support Hollywood writers and actors as well as autoworkers currently on strike in demand for better pay and conditions.

The new Reuters/Ipsos poll out Wednesday found that 58% of voters, regardless of partisan affiliation, approve of the strike by the United Auto Workers (UAW), while a full 60% support the dual strike by writers and performers underway by the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and the Screen Actors Guild - American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA).

Among those not in favor of the UAW strike, 32% actually opposed the walkout, while another 10% were unsure. In terms of the writers and actors strike, just 27% opposed while 13% remained unsure. Overall, support for both strikes was higher among self-identified Democrats, with 72% backing the UAW and 79% in support of those working in the TV and film industries.

New reporting Thursday suggests that the strikes in Hollywood could be having their desired impact and heading for a conclusion as fresh talks between union negotiators and studio owners may be inching towards an agreement. Meanwhile, the autoworkers strike remains much more in its infancy stage, with UAW president Shawn Fain this week saying that more union locals are ready to join the walkout Friday if the union's demands are not met.

But as the new poll shows broad public support for the workers standing their ground, Republican presidential hopefuls this week have been outspoken in their hostility to unions trying to improve their members' lives.

On Monday, Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) invoked former president and infamous strike-breaker Ronald Reagan—who terminated over 11,000 striking air-traffic controllers in 1981—to explain what he would do if he were president.

"Ronald Reagan gave us a great example when federal employees decided they were going to strike," Scott said during a campaign event in Fort Dodge, Iowa. "He said, 'You strike, you're fired.' Simple concept to me. To the extent that we can use that once again, absolutely." While Scott didn't remark on the fact that autoworkers are not federal employees, his campaign team later emphasized that distinction to reporters.

Not to be outdone, former Republican governor and Trump appointee Nikki Haley told Fox News last weekend that she was a proud "union-buster" when leading South Carolina. "I didn't want to bring in companies that were unionized simply because I didn't want to have that change the environment in our state," Haley said.

Donald Trump, meanwhile, as Common Dreams reported Wednesday, is under fire over his plans to parachute into Michigan next week as a hero to struggling families and the working class despite his "viciously anti-worker" record when he was in the White House.

In a Los Angeles Times op-ed published Wednesday, Les Leopold, the executive director of the Labor Institute, argued that instead of blaming workers for demanding better wages and working conditions, anyone upset about the ongoing strikes should aim their ire at Wall Street greed and a financial system that rewards profit-seeking over all else.

"For the first time in a generation the labor movement is held in high esteem by the American public. It is widely understood that working people need the protections only collective bargaining can provide," argued Leopold. "This puts unions like the UAW at the forefront of the struggle to protect jobs and the environment."

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