The Public Believes in the Power of Unions


Some anti-worker advocates are trying to convince the public that the labor movement is unnecessary in today’s world. But a survey conducted earlier this month by the Pew Research Center shows that is wishful thinking on their part.

The poll found that 55 percent of Americans have a positive impression of unions. Additionally, they have a negative view of unions’ reduced size in the workplace in the last two decades, with 51 percent saying it has been mostly bad for workers, compared to 35 percent who say it has been mostly good.

African Americans see unions’ declining numbers the most negatively at 65 percent, followed by those with postgraduate degrees at 61 percent. When broken down by age, younger millennials in the 18-to-29 age group view the change most negatively, at 56 percent.

Even with the Supreme Court case decision in “Janus v. AFSCME” looming, these results show that a majority of Americans see there is value in a union. Why is that? Well, for one, because unions pay more. The median union worker makes $11,000 more a year than the median non-union worker. And that doesn’t even begin to address issues such as health benefits, which are better for those with union jobs.

Need proof? The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics last year unveiled numbers showing that 94 percent of private sector union workers have access of employer-provided health care benefits, compared to only 67 percent of non-union workers. Union members also take greater advantage of such benefits, with 76 percent of them participating, compared to 48 percent of non-union workers. That equals an up-take rate of 81 percent of union workers compared to 72 percent of non-union workers.

The labor movement takes a stand for increased wages, raising the standard of living for hardworking Americans, ensuring quality working conditions and better benefits for workers and their families. While the American workplace is changing, that cannot be used as an excuse to drop employees by the wayside all in the name of increased profits.

That’s why workers are coming together this week as part of the Poor People’s Campaign to stand up for their rights. Harnessing the power of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. 50 years after his tragic assassination, they know working Americans are going to get a raw deal if they don’t stand up for themselves.

No matter what comes of the Janus case, anti-union forces should know that workers aren’t quitting – not now and not ever.