For decades, unions have represented workers in some of America’s most iconic industries. From miners to steelworkers, teachers to manufacturing workers, and electricians to service employees, unions sought to serve the interests of their members.
While their commitment to members remains the same, labor unions are changing. So are the views people have of unions. Here’s a look at how Americans feel about labor unions nearly two decades into the 21st century.
People generally view labor unions positively
Overall union membership is down significantly compared to a few decades ago. According to a Pew Research survey, only 10.7% of wage and salary workers belonged to a union in 2017. Twenty-five years earlier, that figure was nearly twice as high at 20.1%.
Broadly speaking, the public sees this as a bad thing. According to the survey, 51% of people think the decline in union membership is “mostly bad,” while 35% see it as “mostly good.”
Those numbers nearly match the types of opinions people hold about labor unions. About 55% of people in 2018 said they viewed labor unions positively – among the higher rates from the past decade. On the other hand, about 33% of people in 2018 said they held an unfavorable view of labor unions.
The future of labor unions
What will happen to labor unions in the years ahead is unclear, though people have ideas and guesses. Many of those ideas are complex, or require fundamentally altering America’s idea of the labor union. Whatever the case, it’s a near certainty unions will continue to face varying challenges, some requiring dependable legal help. That could include assistance with:
- Collective bargaining agreements
- Unfair labor practices
- Union investigations
- Governance and elections
- Compliance with political campaign laws
Workers will always need to protect their rights and benefits. One thing that certainly doesn’t hurt is a significant amount of support from the public.