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Gallup Poll on Union Approval Explained

UCOMM explains the process behind the recent Gallup poll showing union approval at a 14 year high

Brian Young's picture
Sep 06, 2017

Last week, Gallup reported that union approval ratings hit a 14 year high of 61%. While this is great news, the validity of polls has come into question over the last few years, so UCOMM decided to take a look at what questions they asked, who did the poll and who they spoke to.

Gallup has conducted a union approval poll since 1936, but it was sporadic and occurred during different times of the year.  Since 2001, Gallup standardized the process by conducting the poll every August so they can release the data right before Labor Day. This year, Gallup conducted the poll from August 2-6. To conduct the survey, Gallup spoke to 1,017 adults across the country. While that may seem small, according to the National Council on Public Polls, the average sample size for national polls is 1,000 respondents. To make sure that the poll got a fair look at the American population, Gallup used a random sample of phone numbers from Survey Sampling International that included respondents from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. This sample was then called randomly, while not oversampling one region of the country. 70% of the respondents were from cell phones and the remaining 30% came from landlines. Spanish speaking respondents were asked the questions in Spanish. As with any poll though, there could be some overlap of having someone answer on a cell phone and landline or getting a response from someone who is under the age of 18 or who is intentionally giving false answers. This discrepancy is known as the margin of error, which Gallup put at 4%.

Now that we understand who they called, let’s look at what they asked. After establishing some personal information, like age, gender, and political affiliation, Gallup asked these four questions about unions.

  • “Do you approve or disapprove of unions?” To this question, 61% said that they approve, this is up an enormous 5% from last year and 13% from its all-time low in 2008.
  • “Are you, or is anyone in your household, a member of a labor union?” 7% said that they
    were and another 6% said someone in their household is a union member. This is actually a little less than the national average for union members, which is 11%, meaning that union members were actually under sampled in this survey.
  • “Thinking about the future, do you think labor unions in this country will become stronger than they are today, the same as today, (or) weaker than they are today?” To make sure that this question was fair, the responses were rotated on each call so that no one answer became the default. To this question, 49% of people said they would like to see unions power stay the same or become stronger.
  • “Would you, personally, like to see labor unions in the United States have more influence than they have today, the same amount as today, (or) less influence than they have today?” Again, they rotated the answers. To this question, 39% said more and 30% said the same, meaning 69% of people want to see unions keep or gain their power.

The results of this poll clearly show that Americans want to see workers have a stronger voice in the workplace and in politics. With a higher approval rating than Trump and Congress, the American people are showing that they trust unions much more than the broken and corrupt politicians who are trying to weaken workers power. This poll should be a good indicator of what type of messaging the upcoming midterm elections will have. UCOMM would not be surprised if you see more pro-union messaging given this latest poll.

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