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Poll: 41 percent want to see weaker labor unions

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Michael Bastasch Contributor
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While most Americans still have a favorable impression of labor unions overall, 41 percent want to them be less influential in the future, according to a new Gallup poll.

“Americans continue to be more likely to approve than disapprove of labor unions, but the level of approval remains historically low, as it has been since 2009,” according to the poll.

“Similarly, the public has seemed to shift toward a preference for unions to be less influential in the future than they are today.”

The share of Americans wanting to see less influential labor unions as increased significantly from 2007 when only 28 percent believed this. The percentage increased to 42 percent in in 2009.

In contrast, only 29 percent of Americans want to see labor unions wield more influence in the future, down from 35 percent who held that belief in 2007. But that’s still more than the 25 percent who wanted to see more influential unions in 2009.

A majority of Americans — 52 percent — believe that labor unions will become weaker in the future, while only 21 percent believe they will become stronger.

Despite an increasing percentage of Americans wanting to see labor union influence decrease, a majority — 52 percent — still view labor unions favorably, while only 42 percent disapprove.

This is substantially down from the height of union approval in 1957 when 75 percent of the public held a favorable view of organized labor. Union approval stood at 60 percent as recently as 2007.

Gallup notes, “The drop in union support has come during a down economy, spanning a transition from a less union-friendly presidential administration to a more friendly one, and a time of increasing pressure on unions to scale back employee and retiree health benefits and retirement plans.”

“In the last two years, union rights have been in the news, with Wisconsin and other states limiting public-sector union members’ benefits, if not the scope of what they are able to bargain for in new contracts,” Gallup continues.

“That news appears to have done little to change the way Americans view unions, since much of the decline in union approval preceded that, and views have been stable since.”

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