Americans are sympathetic to labor unions in recent strikes

David MontgomerySenior data journalist
November 16, 2023, 11:11 PM GMT+0

U.S. adults are more likely to hold favorable views of labor unions, both in general and in several recent high-profile strikes.

That's the consistent finding of several recent polls conducted by The Economist and YouGov, including the most recent survey fielded between November 11 - 14, 2023.

In that recent survey, 51% of U.S. adult citizens say they have a very or somewhat favorable view of labor unions in general, compared to 28% with a very or somewhat unfavorable opinion.

Democrats are strongly favorable about labor unions, with 76% favorable and 11% unfavorable. Independents are moderately favorable at 41% to 27%, while Republicans are moderately unfavorable: 36% favorable to 48% unfavorable.

Many Americans don't have strong opinions about recent high-profile strikes against automakers and Hollywood studios. But those who do are much more likely to favor the labor unions.

For the United Auto Workers' strikes against major automakers, 45% say they've been more inclined to side with the union while 20% side with the automakers and 35% aren't sure.

The Screen Actors Guild's strike against Hollywood studios and streaming services has 42% of Americans sympathizing with the actors and 15% with the studios. The Writers Guild of America has slightly more support for its recent Hollywood strike, with 46% favoring the screenwriters and 13% the studios.

Pluralities of Americans don't have an opinion about which side "won" each strike in the final deals. Those who do have opinions are more likely to say the unions came out on top.

See the toplines and crosstabs from the Economist/YouGov poll conducted on November 11 - 14, 2023 among 1,500 U.S. adult citizens.

Methodology: Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel using sample matching. A random sample (stratified by gender, age, race, education, geographic region, and voter registration) was selected from the 2019 American Community Survey. The sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, education, 2020 election turnout and presidential vote, baseline party identification, and current voter registration status. Demographic weighting targets come from the 2019 American Community Survey. Baseline party identification is the respondent’s most recent answer given prior to November 1, 2022, and is weighted to the estimated distribution at that time (33% Democratic, 31% Republican). The margin of error for the overall sample is approximately 3%.

Image: Getty (Mario Tama)