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Union Approval Hits 57-Year High Amid Amazon, Starbucks Activism

Aug. 30, 2022, 8:01 AM

Public approval of labor unions reached 71% in 2022—three percentage points up from 2021 and the highest level since 1965, according to new Gallup polling data.

The findings released Tuesday suggest labor activism in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic—particularly at well-known companies such as Amazon.com Inc. and Starbucks Corp.—boosted the public’s perception of unions.

But they also show organized labor faces a steep battle to persuade nonunion workers to join and to regain the ground it lost in recent decades.

VIDEO: Union Busting: What Employers Can and Cannot Legally Do

Unions have made steady gains in the public eye in the last decade, increasing nearly 20 points in the annual Gallup poll event as they bled members in the wake of the Great Recession. Just 6% of respondents in 2022 were union members, while 16% reported living in a household with at least one union member.

Less than half of union members said union membership is “extremely important” to them, the highest mark on Gallup’s 5-point scale, while 45% said it was somewhat less important.

Nearly two thirds of union members said their chief motivation for joining was better pay and benefits, followed by employee rights and job security.

The vast majority of nonunion workers—58%—said they’re “not interested at all” in joining a union, while 11% said they’re “extremely interested.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Ian Kullgren in Washington at ikullgren@bloombergindustry.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Laura D. Francis at lfrancis@bloomberglaw.com; Martha Mueller Neff at mmuellerneff@bloomberglaw.com