As we celebrate the 125th Labor Day this weekend, a recent poll is showing that approval for labor unions is rising. A Gallup poll released this week shows that 64 percent of Americans approve of unions. This is the third straight year that approval for unions has reached at least 60 percent in the poll, which Gallop has conducted since 1936.
According to Gallup, union approval averaged 68 percent from 1936 and 1967. However, since then, it has averaged 10 points lower and has only occasionally surpassed 60 percent. Public support for labor had hit an all-time low of 48 percent in 2009 at the dawn of the Great Recession but has rebounded to near 50-year highs in the last decade.
In the last half a century, Gallop’s current 64 percent approval rating for unions was only surpassed by March 1999’s 66 percent approval and the 65 percent ratings in surveys done August 1999 and August 2003.
President Grover Cleveland officially recognized Labor Day as a federal holiday 125 years ago in 1894 during a time of labor unrest. The poll numbers show that Americans are realizing that unions are as necessary as ever. Today, employers are shedding health insurance coverage, keeping workers’ wages stagnant, moving work overseas and to contractors, and pushing to eliminate worker-safety measures. Collective bargaining is still the most effective way to protect workers’ rights.
At Pond Lehocky Stern Giordano, we remain fierce advocates for labor. For us, it’s personal; many our attorneys and staff come from union backgrounds and families.