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US labor unions have highest approval rating in nearly 6 decades

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U.S. labor unions have the highest approval rating in nearly six decades. 

According to a recent Gallup survey, 71% of Americans approve of organized labor, up from 68% in 2021 and 64% prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. The data from Gallup's annual Work and Education survey also marked the highest rating Gallup has on record sine 1965, the year César Chávez formed AFL-CIO United Farm Workers Organizing Committee.

"The low unemployment rate that developed during the pandemic altered the balance of power between employers and employees, creating an environment fostering union membership that has resulted in the formation of unions at several high-profile companies," Gallup analyst Justin McCarthy said. 

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To date, 16% of Americans say live in a household with at least one union member. This includes those who reported that they are a union member themselves, according to Gallup. 

Starbucks workers union

Starbucks employees and supporters react as votes are read during a union-election watch party on Thursday, Dec. 9, 2021, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Joshua Bessex, File / AP Images)

Of those who are union members:

  • 40% say their membership is “extremely important.” By contrast, only one in ten rate it as “not important at all.”
  • 65% of employees who were persuaded to join a labor union say it was because of better pay and benefits.
  • Nearly 60% said it had to do with employee rights and representation.

Additionally,

  • Over 40% said it had to do with job security,
  • 34% cited better pension and retirement benefits,
  • 25% listed improvement in the work environment, and
  • 23% mentioned fairness and equality at work.

AMAZON WORKERS AT STATEN ISLAND FACILITY VOTE IN FAVOR OF UNION, FIRST IN COMPANY'S HISTORY

Only 5% joined because they believed unions had a positive effect on the country, according to the data. 

The survey comes amid a time when unionization efforts are sweeping the nation, targeting Fortune 500 companies like Starbucks and Amazon. 

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
SBUX STARBUCKS CORP. 83.41 -0.71 -0.84%
AMZN AMAZON.COM INC. 128.73 -1.06 -0.82%

During the first six months of the 2022 fiscal year, the number of union representation petitions filed increased 57%, according to data from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). 

Amazon union

A supporter holds a sign before the vote count to unionize Amazon workers is announced outside the National Labor Relations Board offices in the Brooklyn borough of New York on Friday, April 1, 2022.  (Photographer: Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg via Getty Images / Getty Images)

Workers at over 300 U.S. Starbucks locations have petitioned the NLRB to hold union elections since late last year. More than 220 of those stores have voted to unionize. The company, which opposes the unionization effort, has recently asked the board to temporarily suspend all union elections at its U.S. stores, citing allegations from a board employee that regional NLRB officials improperly coordinated with union organizers.

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Efforts to unionize Amazon warehouses have been less successful. However, the Amazon Labor Union collected one victory at a Staten Island, New York, warehouse in April, marking a first for Seattle-based Amazon in the U.S.

Meanwhile, workers at warehouses in upstate New York, Kentucky and North Carolina are still attempting to gather enough signatures to petition for their own elections. 

HOW AMAZON WORKERS PULLED OFF A UNION

In June, employees at a Trader Joe’s supermarket in Massachusetts became the first in the company's history to have an employees union. 

Similarly, earlier this month, workers at a Chipotle location in Michigan became the first in the restaurant chain to organize.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
CMG CHIPOTLE MEXICAN GRILL INC. 1,612.50 -26.58 -1.62%

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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