From Trader Joe’s to Starbucks to strip clubs, the American workforce is pushing for better working conditions and job security through the power of labor unions. When the pandemic exacerbated already intolerable work environments, more employees began to form unions as a means to protect their jobs and fight for better working conditions. According to a new Gallup Survey, a majority of Americans now support union members and unionization efforts. Here’s what we learned from Gallup’s annual Work and Education survey:
The highest rate of approval since 1965. Gallup began surveying support for labor unions in 1936, and approval was at its highest in the ’50s when three in four Americans favored labor unions. Today, 71% of Americans back unionization efforts.
16% of Americans live in a union household. About one in six Americans live in a home with a union member. That number can be expected to rise since the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) reported a 57% increase in union election petitions filed in the first half of 2021.
Unions in every industry. Earlier this year, Gallup found front-line and production workers led the way in membership, with 20% of the workforce accounting for union members. While 13% of healthcare and social assistance, 11% of white-collar positions, and 10% of administrative and clerical roles are union members.
Nonunion workers aren’t on board. Among employees not in a union, 11% say they are “extremely interested” in joining a union, while 58% say they’re “not interested at all,” with 6% of managerial workers least likely to become union members.
It’s about more than money. For workers, the two main reasons for joining labor unions are better pay and benefits (65%) and employee rights and representation (57%). At the same time, more than a third of union members point to job security (42%) and better pension and retirement benefits (34%).