Majority of Americans back transit workers' right to strike

July 18, 2013, 7:09 PM GMT+0

A majority of Americans back the right of transit workers to strike, but support for the right of public sector workers to go on strike divides sharply along partisan lines.

The beginning of July saw a four day strike by Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) workers, as workers and management battle in contract negotiations that may prompt another strike. The strike, which is legal in California, would not have been legal in some other states. The BART system is the fifth largest mass transit system in the country, but workers for New York City's Metropolitan Transport Authority - the country's largest - are legally prohibited from going on strike by New York State law.

The latest YouGov research shows that Americans are split over which workers should be able to strike. Social workers have the most widely supported right to strike with 30% net support, while military personnel are the workers with the least support for their right to strike, with net opposition of 28%.

Unsurprisingly, support for the right to strike is far higher among Democrats than it is among Republicans. Social workers are the only group to - narrowly - see Republicans supporting their right to strike, while military personnel are the only group who a majority of Democrats oppose having the right to strike.

YouGov research on the right to strike of public sector workers was initially conducted in the UK, where there is currently a major dispute over the privatization of the postal service.This dispute has prompted unions to call for mass strike action by postal workers in order to thwart the privatization plans. Support for the right to strike is marginally higher in the UK for most occupations, though it is significantly higher for postal workers.