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As workers organize from coast to coast, approval of labor unions continues to rise

Photo credit: Andriana Wilson.
By AFSCME Staff ·
As workers organize from coast to coast, approval of labor unions continues to rise

As workers continue to organize throughout the country – from cultural institutions to Starbucks and Amazon – Americans’ approval of labor unions continues to rise.

According to the latest annual Gallup poll on union favorability, released today, 71% of Americans approve of labor unions, the highest rate in nearly 60 years.

The number of people who view unions favorably is on a clear upward trend: up from 68% last year, 64% before the pandemic and 52% a decade ago. This year’s rate ties with that of 1965.

As approval of labor unions rises, workers are springing into action. The period from October 2021 through June of this year saw a nearly 60% increase in petitions filed to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) by workers seeking to unionize.

“The overwhelming majority of Americans understands what unions bring to the table: higher wages, safer working conditions, lifesaving benefits, job security, and dignity and respect,” AFSCME President Lee Saunders said in a press release today. “This is what comes from having a protected voice on the job. And they know that working people – the front-line heroes who brought our economy back from the brink – deserve a seat at the table.”

What’s more, among workers who belong to a union, more than two out of three say their union membership is important to them, with 40% answering that their membership is “extremely important” to them, the poll found.

The reasons workers give for being part of a union include better pay and benefits; employee representation and employee rights; job security; better pension and retirement benefits; and more, according to Gallup.

That’s the union difference.

But as more workers seek the benefits of a strong union, Gallup found that only 16% of respondents say they or someone in their household is a member of a union.

Although the right to organize belongs to every private sector worker, employers often launch union busting campaigns that rely on intimidation tactics and harassment to prevent workers from seeking a voice on the job. The NLRB found that Amazon employed illegal threats against employees, including the loss of benefits and the withholding of wages, when the company’s workers organized for a voice on the job.

This is why Congress must do more to ensure that every worker – in both the public and private sectors – has the opportunity to join a labor union without being subjected to intimidation or retaliation. Congress should pass the PRO Act and the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act to expand collective bargaining rights across the country.

Our union will continue to fight on behalf of AFSCME members and workers everywhere to ensure every family has access to and benefits from the union difference.  

“Too many employers still get away with vicious union busting and silencing the voices of their workers,” Saunders said. “To change this, we must channel support for unions into votes for pro-worker candidates up and down the ballot.”

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