The poll comes as the fight over collective bargaining for public employees expands to other states. Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) signed a bill Thursday night that removes health care and other benefits from collective bargaining and introduces a merit-based pay system for public employees. A budget bill passed the New Hampshire state House Wednesday that would allow government employers to set wages and benefits for their employees without bargaining with the unions that have represented those workers. Indiana, Maine and other states have also grappled with the issue this year. And as the fight has expanded beyond Wisconsin, Americans have been taking notice. In a new Pew Research Center "Political Knowledge" survey released Thursday, 63 percent of Americans correctly identified "the main focus of recent protests and political debates in Wisconsin" as concerning "union rights for public employees." Republicans (70 percent) are actually slightly more likely to be familiar with the issue than Democrats (58 percent) in the Pew poll. Gallup finds that union households are following the issue more closely than non-union households, with 76 percent of union households saying they were following the issue "very" or "somewhat" closely; 58 percent of non-union households say the same. The Gallup poll surveyed 1,027 adults from March 25-27, for a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percent. Notably, the Gallup poll did not use the phrase "collective bargaining rights," which they did in a Feb. poll; Republican pollster Adam Geller claimed that "rights" was a "loaded" term. A March Quinnipiac poll found that voters were slightly more likely to favor the unions' argument when the word "rights" was added to questions about collective bargaining.
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