Despite the president arguing that unions should be stronger, recent polling shows most Americans disagree.
“We still need laws that strengthen rather than weaken unions, and give American workers a voice,” the president declared during his State of the Union speech Tuesday.
However, most Americans do not want stronger unions. According to polling information released by Gallup on Friday. Only 35 percent of Americans want to see unions have more influence.
“The public’s appetite for strengthening unions is moderate at best,” Gallup noted. “Thirty-five percent of Americans say they would personally like to see labor unions have more influence than they do today, compared with 27% who prefer less influence and 23% who want their influence kept the same.”
Additionally, many of the policies unions claim to fight for, such as raising the minimum wage, still remained fairly high in approval.
The growing disapproval for union power also extends into membership rates. According to data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday, union membership is falling.
“In 2014, the union membership rate–the percent of wage and salary workers who were members of unions–was 11.1 percent, down 0.2 percentage point from 2013,” BLS noted.
BLS also points out that this trend is not new.
“In 1983, the first year for which comparable union data are available, the union membership rate was 20.1 percent, and there were 17.7 million union workers,” BLS found.
BLS also found, “Public-sector workers had a union membership rate (35.7 percent), more than five times higher than that of private-sector workers (6.6 percent).”
The decline in union membership caught the attention of AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka, who argued that it is a sign workers are looking for unions.
“Today’s release of the annual union membership numbers by the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that in this economic recovery, people are either seeking out good union jobs or taking matters into their own hands by forming unions to raise wages and ensure that new jobs are good jobs,” Trumka said in a statement.
“In 2014, workers made great strides and confronted great challenges, including major organizing wins at American Airlines, multiple state legislative victories on the minimum wage and innovative campaigns conducted by carwash workers, among others,” Trumka continued. “We recognize, however, that right-wing billionaires’ extremist politics, a rapacious Wall Street and insufficient advocacy from political leaders thwarted further progress.”
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