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Union Approval Rating Reaches Highest Point Since 1965

But most nonunion workers don't want to join the labor movement

A man holding a megaphone in front of a crowd.

​Most people in the U.S.—71 percent—approve of labor unions, the highest approval rating recorded on this measure since 1965, according to a recent survey from Gallup. Nevertheless, most nonunion workers don't want to join the labor movement, according to another survey. We've gathered articles on the news from SHRM Online and other media outlets.

Steady Rise in Approval in the Public

The latest approval figures, reflected in a survey released in August, come amid a burst of 2022 union victories across the country. Support for labor unions reached its peak in the 1950s, while support for them has dipped below 50 percent only once, in 2009. Support has grown in the 13 years since then.

Nonetheless, in a separate survey conducted in June, most nonunion workers in the U.S.—58 percent—said they are "not interested at all" in joining a union, while only 11 percent of nonunion workers are "extremely interested."

Engagement among workers in unions was lower—27 percent—than among nonunion workers, for which it was at 33 percent, according to the June survey.

Union membership is highest among front-line and production workers, of whom 1 in 5 are union members. About 1 in 10 workers in health care and social assistance (13 percent), white-collar positions (11 percent), and administrative and clerical roles (10 percent) are union members.


Why Increased Support?

Safety concerns that arose during the pandemic helped positive sentiment for unions grow. So may have other factors: wages that aren't keeping up with inflation, for example, and a competitive job market that has emboldened some employees.


Unionization at Starbucks

Starbucks has undergone recent unionization drives. More than 200 stores have voted to unionize since December 2021, and the company has started bargaining with a handful of these stores.

(SHRM Online) and (Vox)

Historically Low Membership

Union membership remains at historically low levels. Just 16 percent of people Gallup surveyed said they live in a household containing at least one union member. Only 10.3 percent of workers in the U.S. are union members, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Among private-sector employees, that figure is 6.1 percent.


Union Election Petitions Soar

Although union membership rates are low, union election petitions rose 58 percent between Oct. 1, 2021, and June 30, 2022. Nearly 2,000 petitions were filed during this period.

(SHRM Online)


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