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Employee Free Choice Poll Gives Labor Backers Big Boost

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Proponents of the Employee Free Choice Act received a big boost Tuesday morning with the publication of an independent poll showing majority support both for the legislation and the greater concept of increased unionization.

Gallup Surveys released a study on Tuesday finding that 53 percent of respondents favored a new law that would "make it easier for labor unions to organize workers." Only 39 percent of respondents opposed such a law.

When asked how important it was that Congress pass such a law, 26 percent of respondents said "very," 29 percent said "somewhat," 23 percent said "not too important," and 20 percent said "not important at all."

Added up, the findings provide a solid boost to EFCA backers, with 55 percent expressing some desire to see Congress act on the legislation and 43 percent expressing a level of opposition or ambivalence (three percent said they had no opinion).

The study was conducted via a poll of 1,024 people across the nation. The survey did not reference the legislation by its name ("Employee Free Choice Act") or by the descriptions used by its opponents, like "card check."

That said, Gallup's description of the Employee Free Choice Act -- to "make it easier for labor unions to organize workers" -- seems one that cuts it relatively down the middle. Unions prefer to describe the legislation as giving "workers the free choice to join unions." The fact that a majority of respondents favored the legislation as described underscores the importance of the framing debate for business and labor.

The cross-tabs of the Gallup's survey provide equally interesting data points. Asked whether they would "favor or oppose a new law that would make it easier for labor unions to organize workers," the respondent break down went like this:

Republicans: 34 percent favor, 60 percent oppose;
Independents: 52 percent favor, 41 percent oppose; and
Democrats: 70 percent favor, and 23 percent oppose.

The surprise here: more than one out of every three Republicans favor laws that would ease unionization, suggesting there is room for labor officials to win over GOP converts.

If nothing else, the Gallup Poll is a nice marking point for where the Employee Free Choice Act debate currently stands, contradicting Monday's Rasmussen Poll that claimed nine percent of workers wanted to join unions, and pushing against -- to a certain extent -- the corporate and union polls conducted up to this point.