According to a new poll, labor unions may want to seriously consider the effects striking has on their public support. For the first time since the question has been polled, voters believe that labor unions do more harm than good.

45% of voters now have an unfavorable stance towards labor unions, believing they do more harm than good. Only 40% of voters remain favorable to labor unions.

This is a major change from just two years ago. In March 2011, 46% of Californians believed that labor unions did more good than harm, while 35% believed they caused more problems than they solved, amounting to a net sixteen-point swing in voter sentiment from the positive to negative side over this period.

When it comes to public employee labor unions, 44% of voters surveyed believe that their actions have caused more harm than good while only 39% believe the opposite.

“It seems like they keep winning the battles,” Field Poll director Mark DiCamillo said in an interview with The Sacramento Bee. “The question becomes, ‘Are they moving the public in the direction where they may lose the war?’”

47% of Californian voters believe that transit workers should retain the right to strike while 44% believe they shouldn’t. Voters in the Bay Area were more likely to oppose public transit workers having the right to strike.

According to the Field Poll, majorities of Democrats, liberals, voters living in union affiliated households, Latinos, African-Americans and voters under age 30 believe labor unions do more good than harm. Meanwhile, more Republicans, conservatives, men, white non-Hispanics, voters age 50-64, Southern Californians outside of Los Angeles County and voters living in non-union households believe labor unions do more harm than good. Virtually every voter subgroup now displays a shift toward a somewhat more negative view of labor unions than they had expressed previously.

The Field Poll survey sampled 1,002 registered voters in California who were asked to respond to the following question: All things considered, do you feel that labor unions in California do more harm than good or more good than harm?

View the Field Poll results below: