By Sahid Fawaz
If you think most Americans don't like unions nowadays, you're very wrong.
"In the U.S., 61% of adults say they approve of labor unions, the highest percentage since the 65% approval recorded in 2003. The current labor union approval is up five percentage points from last year and is 13 points above the all-time low found in 2009.
Unions have regained popularity since bottoming out at the beginning of the Obama administration in 2009. That survey marked the first and only time in Gallup's trend dating back to 1936 that support for unions was below 50%.
Historically, unions have enjoyed strong support from the American public. In 1936, 72% of Americans approved of labor unions. Union approval peaked in the 1950s when it reached 75% in 1953 and 1957. Approval remained in the 60% range throughout the 2000s, right up to the election of Barack Obama as president. After plummeting in 2009, union approval remained lower than in its heyday but began climbing.
Eighty-one percent of Democrats approve of unions this year -- significantly higher than the 42% of Republicans who approve. This disparity is not as stark as it was in 2011 when Republican approval was 26% and Democratic approval was 78%. Democratic approval of unions has been fairly steady over time, while the approval levels of independents and Republicans have fluctuated.
Republicans' approval of unions rose since last year, possibly due to the presidency of Republican Donald Trump. Even though Trump is not an avid supporter of unions, his rhetoric about restoring U.S. manufacturing jobs and cordial relations with some top labor union leaders at the start of his term may have softened Republican attitudes about unions.
Republican approval of unions is similar to when the last Republican president, George W. Bush, left office. It is possible that Republicans may now perceive unions as less threatening because Trump is unlikely to expand their power.
As more U.S. adults approve of unions, their interest in wanting unions to have more influence is also on the rise. Thirty-nine percent of Americans would like unions to have more influence -- the highest figure recorded in the 18 years Gallup has asked this question.
Consequently, those who want labor unions to have less influence is at a record low of 28%. Thirty percent want unions to have the same influence as today.
The 'influence' response mirrors the 'approval' response in that the more Americans approve of unions, the more they want them to have greater influence. When support for unions dipped in the late 2000s and early 2010s, so too did the idea of unions having more influence."
For more, read the full Gallup report here.