Policymakers and union and company officials can learn from this survey. The survey findings suggest that union members support many of their unions’ goals, but confidence in long-term union viability and some union spending is not high.

Strong majorities do not support some current practices of unions and companies. Strong majorities do not want to lose their right to vote on union organization in a secret-ballot election, and they do not support the legality of companies and unions agreeing in advance to bypass these elections.

Strong majorities of union members believe that a union should obtain the support of two-thirds or more of workers before that union is allowed to represent all the workers. (The current level of support required by law is a simple majority.) Strong majorities also believe it is unfair for a worker to lose his or her job for refusing to pay dues to, or support, a union, but most collective bargaining agreements require just that.

The effect of union practices remaining out of step with the desires of their members is hard to predict, but it would seem very unlikely to help reverse declining union membership. To retain the support of union members, union and company officials and state and federal policy-makers would be well advised to recognize the strong role fairness seems to play in shaping union members’ views. This suggests crafting practices and policies that guarantee workers’ ability to vote on union representation and respect the individual choices of workers to support a union or not.