Highest since 2003
Washington, D.C. – As economic conditions in the U.S. remain tenuous, Americans’ 65 percent approval of Labor unions is the highest it has been since 2003, according to a new Gallup poll. Public support for Labor unions has been rising steadily since hitting a low point of 48 percent in 2009, during the Great Recession.
In 1936, the first year Gallup took a poll of support for Labor unions, the American public weighed in with 72 percent supporting Organized Labor. The approval rating peaked at 75 percent in 1953 and 1957.
The lowest ratings to date have been recorded during particularly weak economic times. This includes the late 1970s and early to mid-1980s – when support fell below 60 percent – and 2009 through 2012, during the Great Recession, when it hovered around 50 percent.
Although this year’s reading, from a July 30-Aug. 12 poll, also comes at a time of severe economic upheaval as the U.S. grapples with the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting economic crisis – including record-high unemployment – support for unions remains strong.
UNIONS HAVE LED DURING PANDEMIC
“It is a tribute to the leadership and resilience of our movement that — even when the state of our [nation] is in such disarray — the state of America’s unions is strong,” said Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO. “Union members have answered the call of COVID-19. Every day and in every way. We’ve served. We’ve sacrificed. We’ve healed. We’ve done it all. We’ve honored the country we love, the country unions built.
“The problem—and more than that, the clear and present danger — is that too many of our country’s leaders haven’t honored us. They haven’t served us well. They haven’t protected us. They’re letting our country crumble and our people suffer.”
Americans’ support for unions has been politically polarized since at least 2001, when Gallup first began tracking the measure.
Democrats’ current 83 percent approval of Labor unions is the highest on record since then. Meanwhile, 45 percent of Republicans and 64 percent of independents approve of unions today, according to the latest poll.
In 2009, 66 percent of Democrats, 29 percent of Republicans and 44 percent of independents viewed Labor unions favorably.
Since its low point during the Great Recession, union approval has recovered among all three major party groups.
And membership in Labor unions remains steady, with 10 percent of respondents saying they are members of a Labor union, and 16 percent saying there is a union member in their household.