A Gallup poll recently probed American’s approval of labor unions. Unions have been under open attack by many politicians, and more subtle attack by employers attempting to keep their workplaces from becoming unionized. According to Gallup, the approval rating is at 52%, while disapproval is at 42%. Not surprisingly, political party affiliation is strongly correlated with approval or disapproval, with almost three-quarters of Democrats approving unions and not quite a third of Republicans. The high of 75% approval occurred in the late 50s, and has been declining ever since.
A lower percentage of people stated that they would prefer unions to achieve more influence. The question did not specify influence in elections, wage levels or number of people joining the unions. Only 29% of the responders stated they would prefer that unions have more influence in the future than they do today.
Labor Day commemorates the contributions of unions to our current lifestyle. Not just the wonderful three-day weekend, but the eight hour workday, overtime compensation, and benefit packages. Unfortunately, the poll responders who predict that unions will continue to lose influence are probably right. But does it make us better off?