Just under half (48%) of Americans say they have a favorable opinion of unions, with 18% having a very favorable view of them. Fewer (30%) hold an unfavorable view, and the remaining 22% are unsure.
People with personal experience with unions tend to view them favorably. Among Americans who are either in a union or have a household member who is, 73% view unions favorably.
Among Democrats, 73% view unions favorably. Fewer Independents (44%) and Republicans (30%) agree. Nearly half (49%) of Republicans hold an unfavorable view of unions, with 20% saying they have a very unfavorable view of unions.
Different age groups also hold differing views on unions. Americans 65 and older are most likely to view unions favorably, at 56%.
Among 45- to 64-year-olds, 44% view unions favorably. A higher percentage (54%) of Americans between 30 and 44 have a favorable view of labor unions. Americans between 18 and 29 are the least likely to have a favorable opinion of labor unions at 37%, but the largest share of this group (40%) says they are unsure about labor unions.
Would it be good or bad for the country if employees at major companies began unionizing? More Americans say good.
As employees at major companies have fought to unionize, many Americans think employees of other large businesses should follow suit. Two in five (39%) Americans think it would be good for the country if employees at other major companies without unions began to unionize. Another 19% say it would be neither good nor bad for the country, and 21% believe it would be bad for the country.
Among people who are either in a union or have a household member who is, nearly two-thirds (63%) think more employees unionizing would be a good thing for America. A similar percentage of Democrats (65%) think this would be a good thing. Far fewer Independents (37%) and just one in five (21%) Republicans think more employees unionizing would be a good thing.
But although there have been high-profile union efforts in the news recently, union membership overall has been declining for the last few decades.
One-quarter (26%) of Americans think that it’s a good thing union membership has been declining for the past few decades, but a similar percentage (28%) say this has been a bad thing.
Among people who are in a union or have a family member who is, opinion is similarly split. Just over one-third (35%) say declining union membership has been good for the country; 38% say it has been bad.
How Americans see the changing power of labor unions
Just over one-third (35%) of Americans believe that unions are less powerful now than they were 30 years ago. About half as many (19%) believe unions are more powerful now, and 19% say there has not been much change.
Americans 65 and older are especially likely to say that unions are less powerful now than they were 30 years ago, at 51%. Among 45- to 64-year-olds, 40% think unions have become less powerful. Among 30- to 44-year-olds, 23% think unions are less powerful now, but 21% think unions are stronger now. Many Americans (43%) under 30 are uncertain, but 17% say unions are more powerful now and 22% say they are less powerful.
Looking forward, Americans think there will be some changes in how much influence labor unions wield.
Nearly three in 10 (27%) think the level of influence wielded by labor unions will go up in the future. Slightly fewer (21%) think labor unions will lose some influence, and 20% think it will stay constant.
Among people who are in a union or have a family member who is, 42% think unions are set to become more powerful, while 29% expect them to become less powerful. Among Democrats, those percentages are 41% and 18%.
— Linley Sanders contributed to this article.
This poll was conducted on April 25 - 28, 2022, among 1,000 U.S. adult citizens. Explore more on the methodology and data for this U.S. News Poll.
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