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UCOMM

Union Approval Hits 56 Year High

Huge support among young people and Democrats has led to the increase in support for unions

Brian Young's picture
Sep 02, 2021

Approval for labor unions has hit a 56 year high according to the most recent Gallup poll. The poll has been asking Americans their thoughts on unions since 1936, although it has only been conducted yearly since 2001.

This year’s poll found that sixty eight percent of Americans approve of labor unions. This was up from 65% last year and was the highest since 1965 when 71% of Americans supported them. Approval has increased among nearly all major demographic subgroups since 2016. However, one group where the approval rating did decrease slightly was among union members. The poll found 86% supporting unions down from a high of 93% in 2019.

Some of the biggest supporters of unions were young people. The poll found that among 18–34-year-old’s, 77% supported unions. Another large supporter was low-income households making under $40,000 a year. Within this group, unions had a 72% approval rating.

Among political groups, Democrats overwhelmingly supported labor with a 90% approval rating. This was the highest it has been in two decades and is up to seven points from last year. The 90% approval rating is a higher level of support among a political party than even in 1965 or 1953 when unions had their highest ever approval rating. 66% of independents and 47% of Republicans also support labor unions which were essentially unchanged from last year.

According to the poll, only 17% of the respondents were either union members or lived in a union household.

While union membership remains stagnant at near-record lows, the impression that the larger general population has of them continues to be strong. This is especially true among the younger generation who has grown up hearing about unions as the fighters for the middle class and lower-income workers who have directly seen unions not only organize their workplaces but also fight for things like the $15 minimum wage. Now the question is, can unions turn this public support into organizing wins at employers like Amazon?

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