Public support for unions is at its highest level since 1965, according to Gallup’s annual pre-Labor Day survey. And if that headline sounds familiar, it’s because last year Gallup also found the highest public support for unions since 1965.
In 2021, 68 percent of people surveyed said they approved of labor unions. In 2022, 71 percent said they approved. That’s a “statistically similar” number, as Gallup puts it, but before the pandemic, the number was 64 percent. That’s part of an ongoing trend in the right direction: “Support for labor unions was highest in the 1950s, when three in four Americans said they approved,” Gallup notes. “Support only dipped below the 50% mark once, in 2009, but has improved in the 13 years since and now sits at a level last seen nearly 60 years ago.”
Recent years have seen a series of teacher uprisings against education budget cuts and low wages—teachers face a significant pay penalty in comparison with other equivalently educated workers—and, this year, a remarkable string of union wins at Starbucks along with one enormous win at Amazon. The COVID-19 pandemic also spurred many workers to reconsider their relationships with their work and their employers, as workers dubbed “essential” early in the pandemic soon saw themselves treated as disposable and workers faced the competing pressures of care work, health and safety, and the demands of their employers.
Over the past decade-plus, unions have also led fights for policies like an increased minimum wage and paid leave—extremely successful initiatives at the state level, even if those policies remain stalled at the federal level—that benefit all workers, not just union members. Even if you don’t pay attention to the data showing that unions reduce economic inequality, the old right-wing attacks on unions as purely self-interested very obviously don’t hold water.
Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.
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