A ‘Solid’ Majority Of Americans Approve Of Unions — It Hasn’t Been That Way In Over A Decade

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Ted Goodman Contributor
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A “solid” majority of Americans approve of labor unions in the United States, with Democrats twice as likely as Republicans to support unions.

Sixty-one percent of Americans approve of labor unions, according to a Gallup Poll released Wednesday. The number is the highest percentage since the 65 percent approval rating in 2003 and 5 percent higher than in 2016. It is 13 percent higher than in 2009, when just 48 percent of Americans (an all-time low) said they approved of labor unions.

Outside of the early-2000s, the 61 percent approval rating is the highest it’s been since the late 1960s, although union approval remained at or slightly below 60 percent.

Unions in America enjoyed a high approval rating when Gallup started the poll in 1936 — when 72 percent of Americans approved. That trend continued until the ’70s when 60 percent or less approved of labor unions.

Democrats are twice as likely to approve of unions than Republicans, with 81 percent of Democrats and 42 percent of Republicans approving. The number of Republicans who approve of labor unions jumped almost 10 percent from 2016, possibly due to President Donald Trump’s “America-First” campaign rhetoric that gained traction in the rust belt.

Gallup says it is possible that Republicans perceive unions as less threatening because Trump is unlikely to expand their power. Under former President Barack Obama, union approval trended at its lowest recorded levels, bottoming out at 48 percent immediately after his election.

Richard Trumka, president of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), highlighted the poll after blasting the president in a breakfast with reporters Wednesday morning.


While over 60 percent of Americans said they approve of unions, twice as many Americans remain pessimistic than optimistic about unions’ futures. Forty-six percent said they think unions will become weaker, and just 22 percent believe they will grow stronger. (RELATED: Richard Trumka Says White House Staff Made Up Of Racists And People Only Looking Out For Wall Street)

The poll cites the bailout of the big three automotive companies in 2009 as a reason for the low numbers during Obama’s presidency.

The poll surveyed 1,017 adults by telephone between Aug. 2 and Aug. 6 with a margin error of +/- 4 percent. Gallup’s sample comprises of 70 percent cellphone respondents and 30 percent landline respondents.  The numbers were selected using random digit dialing methods.

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