The percentage of Americans who approve of labor unions is at its highest point since 1965, according to the latest Gallup poll.
Seventy-one percent of Americans now approve of labor unions, up from 64% before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Unions have scored a number of major victories in 2022. In April, workers at an Amazon warehouse in Staten Island voted to create the first unionized Amazon facility in the U.S. Last week, Amazon’s efforts to undo the results of the election were rejected by a hearing officer for a federal labor board. In December 2021, Starbucks workers voted to create the company’s first union in America. As of last month, 209 Starbucks stores have officially voted to unionize.
Union membership is highest among front-line and production workers at 20%. Eighty-four percent of American do not belong to unions, the poll showed.
Support for labor unions peaked in the 1950s at 75% and reached its low point at 48% in 2009.
Steve Dawes, director of United Auto Workers Region 1-D in Flint, Michigan, told ABC12 that interest in the union is up because employees are concerned with how they are treated at work — much as they were nearly a century ago, when his union was formed. “If you go back and you look at the very first one-page agreement with General Motors and the UAW, you won’t find anything in there about wages, the 40-hour work week, health care, vacations,” Dawes said. “It was all about dignity in the workplace.”
According to Gallup, the National Labor Relations Board reported a 57% increase in union election petitions filed during the first six months of fiscal year 2021.
Among union members, 40% rate their membership as “extremely important.” Over half — 58% — of nonunion workers in the U.S. told Gallup they are “not interested at all” in joining a union.
The survey concluded that the low unemployment rate over the past two years “altered the balance of power between employers and employees, creating an environment fostering union membership that has resulted in the formation of unions at several high-profile companies.”