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Thursday, September 1, 2011

Approval of Unions

In our chapter on interest groups, we discuss the problems facing labor unions. A new Gallup poll suggests that lukewarm public approval is one of those problems.
In a year marked by contentious negotiations between state governments and public employee unions, a slim majority of Americans, 52%, approve of labor unions. That percentage is unchanged from last year and remains on the lower end of what Gallup has measured historically.

Gallup has asked Americans whether they approve or disapprove of labor unions periodically since 1936, and annually since 2001. More Americans have always approved than disapproved, with the lowest approval rating of 48% measured in 2009. A record-high 75% approved in two separate measurements in the 1950s.

The current results are based on Gallup's annual Work and Education poll, conducted Aug. 11-14.


The events of this year do, however, appear to have widened an already large divide in the way partisans view labor unions. Now, 78% of Democrats and 26% of Republicans approve, a difference of 52 percentage points, compared with a 37-point gap last year. Democratic approval is now restored to the levels seen from 1999 to 2007, while Republican approval has dipped to the lowest point seen over this period.