Union Approval Hits Half-Century High

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The Balance

That’s how many years it’s been since unions were as popular as they are now, according to a new poll that punctuated Labor Day weekend by showing organized labor’s improving public image.

Sixty-eight percent of Americans approve of labor unions, the most since 1965, the Gallup polling company said last week, based on its survey of 1,006 U.S. adults taken between Aug. 2 and Aug. 17.

Some of the increase in approval came from Democrats, whose support increased 7 points since last year to 90%, making them even more approving of unions than actual union members, 86% of whom said the same. By contrast, 47% of Republicans said they approved of unions, up from 45% the previous year. Democrats, including President Joe Biden, have supported pro-union policies such as the PRO Act, which would expand legal protections for organized labor.

“Approval among Democrats, which is nearly unanimous, has risen over the past year as President Joe Biden has said he expects his administration to be one of the most pro-union in history,” Gallup researchers said in their report. “However, with former President Donald Trump's appeal to many blue-collar workers, some Republican politicians have begun to support union issues.”

Union members typically enjoy higher pay, earning an average of $1,144 a week versus $958 for nonmembers in 2020, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. In other words, non-union workers earned 84 cents on the dollar compared to their unionized counterparts. Despite the higher approval figure—it’s been increasing since 2016—and pay advantage, only 9% of those polled said they were a member of a union, close to the 10.8% union membership rate for workers that the BLS reported for 2020.

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