Labor Union Dues
Whose Money Is It?

ABC News and the Washington Post found overwhelming support (82 percent) in their early October poll for the view that a labor union should have to get permission from a member before using some of his or her dues for political campaign donations. Just 16 percent said that unions should be able to donate money without such permission.

Also in early October, 72 percent told Gallup that unions should be required to get written permission to use dues for political purposes; 24 percent said unions should be allowed to use the dues unless a worker made a special request that dues not be used this way.

A poll in early October by the Republican pollster John McLaughlin found that only 30 percent of union members (and 21 percent of the public) were aware of the Supreme Court’s ruling that union members do not need to pay dues that are used for political purposes.

Learning the Lesson of Racial Diversity

In its early October poll for Time and CNN, Yankelovich Partners gauged public reaction to an important case that the Supreme Court will hear this term by asking: “Now I have a question about a case in which a public school had to fire either a white teacher or a black teacher. The two teachers had exactly the same qualifications and had been teaching in that school for exactly the same amount of time. The school decided to fire the white teacher and retain the black teacher in order to maintain racial diversity on the teaching staff.

“Thinking just about this particular case, do you agree or disagree with the decision of the school to retain the black teacher in order to maintain racial diversity?”

White and black reactions to what happened in Piscataway, N.J., were similar. Thirty-three percent of whites (and 36 percent of blacks) agreed with the school board’s decision. But a majority of whites (53 percent) and a plurality of blacks (49 percent) disagreed with it.

The Women’s Movement

At the time of the Promise Keepers’ rally in Washington this month, CBS News conducted a special poll on women’s status.

Slightly more than two-thirds of women in the Sept. 18 to 20 poll said they had favorable opinions of the women’s movement. Young women 18 to 29 were much more positive (85 percent) about the movement than older women, though majorities of all age groups said their impressions of it were favorable.

When asked whether the women’s movement had achieved anything that had made their lives better, 43 percent of women said it had, but 48 percent said it had not.

Only 26 percent of women surveyed considered themselves feminists, a response in line with nearly all polls that ask the question that way. When respondents were asked how they felt about calling someone a feminist, 10 percent of women said it was a compliment; 21 percent, an insult; and 61 percent, a neutral description.

Call Me Miss or Mrs.

Thirty-one percent of women in the CBS poll said they liked “Ms.” best as a form of address, but 55 percent said they liked “Miss” or “Mrs.”

When asked which form of address they themselves used, 22 percent said they used “Ms.” and 68 percent said “Miss” or “Mrs.” Among 18- to 29-year-old women, only a quarter said they used “Ms.” Seventy percent of this group said they preferred the other titles.

Sexual Harassment

NBC News also conducted a poll on issues involving men and women in late September. Women split over whether sexual harassment in the workplace was a bigger problem (21 percent) or less of a problem (20 percent) than five years ago; a majority of them said it was about the same.

Two in ten women said they felt they were sexually harassed at work in the past two years. Two in ten women in another question said that they themselves had made a comment about a co-worker of the opposite sex that “crossed the line” of appropriate behavior between men and women at the office. Seventy-seven percent of women said they had not, and only 3 percent said they were unsure.

Among men, 18 said they had made such a remark. Fifty-four percent said they had not, and 28 percent were not sure.

A near majority of women (46 percent) said that they would feel “very comfortable” making a “formal complaint without fear of negative consequences” if they experienced sexual harassment on the job, and 21 percent said that they would feel somewhat comfortable doing this. Just 14 percent said that they wouldn’t feel at all comfortable taking action.

Women’s Work

For the first time since pollsters started asking the question in 1974, a majority of women (50 percent) in the CBS poll said that they would prefer a job outside the home “if they were free to do either”; 42 percent said they would like to stay home and take care of a house and family. In the NBC poll, more than 70 percent of women and men agreed strongly that “most women can’t ‘have it all’--a career and a family--without making a lot of sacrifices in both areas.”

Two Grande Lattes, and Make Them to Go

An April International Communications Research poll for the Visa/Plus ATM Network and Brouillard Communications explored what people would be willing to pay for certain experiences.

Caddying for Tiger Woods was most desirable (the median response was $7,800 for the privilege). Going on Colin Powell’s next book tour was worth $3,500, and spending a night in the Lincoln Bedroom, $2,300.

Other celebrity experiences were less of a draw. Having coffee with Vice President Al Gore at Starbucks was worth slightly more ($480) than taking a walk with former Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kan) and his dog, Leader ($170). Eighty-five percent said they wouldn’t pay a cent to go to a psychic reading with First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Karlyn H. Bowman is a resident fellow at AEI.

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