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Americans want unions

Membership in a labor union can be extremely useful for workers, and it looks like a majority of Americans understand that.

A recent Gallup poll shows an increasing number of Americans supporting labor unions. 58% of respondents to the poll had a favorable view of unions, up from 53% a year ago, and up ten percentage points from a low of 48% during the Great Recession:

union approval
union approval

(Gallup)

This increase in approval comes as the number of American workers who are actually members of labor unions continues to dramatically fall. Gallup estimated from their poll results that about 12% of Americans belonged to a union. That rate is far below the height of union membership in the mid-1950s, during which about a third of US workers belonged to a union.

That decline in membership could play a part in attitudes about union power. On the one hand, Gallup found that more Americans want unions to have more influence than less influence. Until this poll, the reverse had been true since the Great Recession:

union power change preference
union power change preference

(Gallup)

On the other hand, a majority of Americans think that unions will become weaker in the future than they are now, despite their desire for stronger unions:

union power actually happening
union power actually happening

(Gallup)

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