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Support for labor unions in the U.S. is at a 57-year high

Employees of HarperCollins Publisher participate in a one-day strike outside the publishing houses offices in Manhattan on July 20, 2022 in New York City.
Spencer Platt
/
Getty Images
Employees of HarperCollins Publisher participate in a one-day strike outside the publishing houses offices in Manhattan on July 20, 2022 in New York City.

Support for labor unions in the U.S. is at a 57-year high, according to a new Gallup poll.

Seventy-one percent of Americans now approve of labor unions — up from last year's 68%. Union support is also up from 64%, before the COVID-19 pandemic, and is the highest the polling firm has recorded since 1965.

Support for unions was highest in the 1950s, according to the Gallup, when 3 in 4 Americans approved of labor organizations.

Nowadays, union drives are on a slight upswing as a recent surge in organizing activity continues at some of the biggest companies in the U.S. Workers at Starbucks, Amazon, and Chipotle have unionized in a demand for higher wages and better working conditions.

Though fulfillment centers and coffee shop chains are some of the newer spots to organize, the Gallup poll found that union membership is still largest in long-unionized industries. The organization says membership "is highest among front-line and production workers"; 20% of them belong to a union.

Following those workers are health care and social assistance professionals, 13% of whom are union members, then white-collar workers (at 11%), and then administrative and clerical staff (at 10%).

Support for unions maybe be at a record high, but the number of those who can actually say they are members of a union are still quite low, when compared to decades past.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reportsthat as of 2021, the number of workers belonging to unions is at 14 million — or 10.3%. That is down from 10.8% in 2020. In 1983, the earliest year with comparable membership data, around 20% of workers were in unions, BLS said.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Jaclyn Diaz is a reporter on Newshub.
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