Organized labor is more popular than it has been in decades. The polls show it, the media cover it, and politicians are reacting to it.
But are labor unions actually popular? Only in theory, if not so much in practice.
Gallup has long-term polling on how people feel about unions. The polling suggests unions are viewed more favorably than they’ve been in decades.
Media outlets have reported on this quite a bit. That helps explain why politicians have flocked to the line during the United Auto Workers strike. President Joe Biden became the first sitting president to visit the picket line of striking workers. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Senate candidate Elissa Slotkin also visited with the UAW. U.S. The democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders gave a speech. Even Republicans Donald Trump and John James showed at least some support for the cause (though primarily by blaming federal policies for harming workers).
But a deeper look at the issue shows that Americans don’t like the unions that are out there. Gallup polling shows that only a small number of workers are interested in joining a union.
People also disagree with unions on policy issues. Especially over right-to-work laws, which allow workers to choose whether to join or financially support unions or to refrain from doing so. Unions disagree with the law (which was repealed in Michigan this year) while the public widely favors the law.
So how popular are unions? People tend to support their existence and are sympathetic to the concerns of workers. But they don’t believe people should be forced to join and few are personally interested in joining one themselves.
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