- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 1, 2015

President Obama’s approval rating among union members ticked down to 52 percent over the past two months, approaching his personal low as president, a Gallup poll said.

Mr. Obama’s personal low among union members, who have consistently approved of his job performance at a higher rate than non-union members, is 51 percent. After he was sworn in, his approval rating among union members was 69 percent, and it reached 63 percent during the fourth quarter of 2012.

It was 56 percent in the first quarter of 2015. His job approval has averaged 55 percent among union members since Gallup started tracking approval from the group in the second quarter of 2009, compared to a 46 percent average among nonmembers and 47 percent among all Americans.

Currently, his approval rating is 52 percent among both government and private-sector union members.

The most recent six-point gap of approval between union members (52 percent) and non-union members (46 percent) is smaller thus far this quarter than it has been in the past. The smallest gaps before now were seven points from April-June 2009 (69 percent union, 62 percent non-union) and from April-June 2013 (55 percent to 48 percent).

“One key reason union members’ approval may be lower this quarter could be the president’s pursuit of free trade agreements with Asian nations. Labor unions typically oppose free trade agreements because of concerns that cheaper imports could result in job losses for American workers,” wrote Gallup’s Jeffrey M. Jones.

“Also, more of the political attention now is focused on the 2016 election, and Democratic candidates like Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton may be talking more about issues union members care about than the president is. In particular, the president’s top agenda item at this point is marshaling congressional support for the nuclear agreement with Iran,” Mr. Jones wrote.

Mr. Jones noted that Mr. Obama has also taken steps in recent months aimed at expanding workers’ rights like increasing the number of workers eligible for overtime pay and trying to have more workers classified as employees rather than contractors to make them eligible for greater legal protections — steps that might be preventing the president’s approval among union members from slipping even further.

Results for the survey were based on interviews from July 1 to Aug. 30 of 25,795 working adults, with a margin of error of plus or minus 1 percentage point. The results included interviews with 2,684 employed union members, with a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points for that group, as well as 23,111 employed non-union members, with a margin of error of plus or minus 1 percentage point for that group.

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