Popularity of Unions on the Rise

The American Prospect, a liberal periodical, distributes a weekly e-newsletter, The Labor Prospect, highlighting the best reporting and latest developments in the labor movement.  The latest missive reports, among other stories, that “more and more Americans are recognizing that unions are a crucial component in the workplace, according to a new Gallup poll. Rising five percentage points since just last year, 58 percent of Americans approve of unions and slightly more want to increase (not lessen) the influence that unions wield. Organized labor’s image has greatly improved since its rock-bottom point in 2009 when just 48 percent of Americans approved of unions.”

Here is some of what Gallup reports:

“Gallup first asked Americans about organized labor in 1936, a year after Congress legalized private-sector unions and collective bargaining. At that time, 72% of Americans approved of unions. Support remained high into the 1960s, but then dipped through the 1970s until it reached 55% in 1979. It has since varied, reaching as high as 66% in 1999 and as low as the 48% in 2009.

Trend: Do you approve or disapprove of labor unions?

“Consistent with the recent increase in approval of unions, the percentage of Americans saying they would like labor unions to have more influence in the country has also been rising, and now stands at 37%, up from 25% in 2009. Meanwhile, the percentage wanting unions to have less influence has declined from 42% to 35%, although it remains higher than it was from 1999 through 2008. Instead, fewer today say they want unions’ influence to stay the same.

“. . . on both questions, support for unions is higher among women than men. Specifically, 63% of women compared with 52% of men approve of labor unions. Also 41% of women vs. 33% of men want unions to have more influence. Favorable views of unions are significantly higher in the East, Midwest and West than in the South. In fact, the South is the only region where less than half of residents approve of unions. Perhaps most positive for the future of unions is the finding that young adults, those aged 18 to 34, are the most supportive of all age groups.”


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