Polls on unions heading into Labor Day

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Heading into Labor Day, Gallup wanted to know how Americans feel about labor unions — an historic force behind Monday’s work pass.  While the majority of respondents still “approve” of unions, the plurality (38%) would prefer to see labor unions have less influence than they have today, while 33 percent would prefer unions to have more influence.  Another quarter are happy with how things are right now.

Regardless of their personal feelings toward labor unions, 52 percent of respondents believe that labor unions will become weaker in the future, while equal portions feel that they will remain (21%) the same or become stronger (22%).  These perceptions come at a time when household labor union participation is the highest that it has been this decade (19%), up from 14 percent in 2003.

Labor’s least popular moment came in September 2009, which Gallup explains as a possible backlash against a Democratic administration that some feared would overly empower unions.  As expected, union approval is strongly divided along party lines, with 75 percent of Democrats approving compared to 51 percent of Independents and 34 percent of Republicans.

A separate poll by Rasmussen, published Sunday, found that 44 of respondents have at least a somewhat favorable impression of labor unions (including 14% with a very favorable opinion), while 45 percent view labor unions unfavorably (including 24% with a very unfavorable opinion).