Support Grows for Labor Unions

November 1, 2015

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(This article first appeared in the November/December 2015 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine.)

After years of declining strength and support, labor unions are regaining popularity.

More than half of Americans – 58 percent – said they approve of labor unions, according to a recent Gallup Poll. That was a 5 percent increase over the previous year and the highest since 2008.

Most of the support is coming from women, who are hardest hit by chronically low-wage jobs that offer little to no benefits. In the latest poll, 63 percent of women surveyed say that they approve of labor unions – and 41 percent said they want unions to have more power. When it comes to men, 52 percent say they approve of labor unions and 33 percent said they want unions to have more power.

In addition, most union members are minority workers. According to Gallup, 24 percent of non-whites are union members, compared to 13 percent of whites. That same split also occurs along party lines between Democrats and Republicans.

Digital Reporters Unionize

Following the footsteps of reporters at Salon, Gawker, and the Guardian US, Al Jazeera America’s (AJAM) digital workers voted to unionize on Sept. 3.

As this issue went to press, AJAM workers were seeking representation by the NewsGuild.

“As we enter our third year in the public eye, a troubling lack of transparency, inconsistent management and lack of clear redress have persisted at AJAM Digital,” the staff wrote in a mission statement. “Discrepancies in salaries, responsibilities and the way job performance is evaluated undermine our work and the harmony of our workplace.”

On average, children of non-educated
fathers earn 28% more
if their father was in a labor union.

Union Kids Do Better

Kids whose parents who are union members have a greater chance at economic success than those growing up in non-union households, according to a recent study by researchers at Harvard University, Wellesley College and the Center for American Progress.

“Union workers make more money than comparable nonunion workers – what economists call the union premium.” Union jobs are also more stable, provide a more secure living environment, and are more likely to provide family health insurance.

According to the study, children of non-college educated fathers earn 28 percent more as adults if their father was in a labor union. They also go further in school than those whose parents weren’t union-members.


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