Clerical Local 318 / State employees

Unions Are Cool

New research shows that more young people view unions favorably, including even millennials who are conservative on political issues.

Cross-posted from the  AFSCME Blog.

By Michael Byrne

New research shows that more young people view unions favorably, including even millennials who are conservative on political issues. It’s a promising trend that bodes well for the future if young people look to improve their conditions by organizing.

Fifty-five percent of people age 18-29 view unions favorably, compared with only 29 percent who view them unfavorably, according to the survey by the Pew Research Center. Overall among all age groups, 48 percent view unions favorably, compared with 39 who don’t, as favorable opinions about unions continue to rise despite the ongoing political assault in state legislatures.

The strongest supporters for unions are people under 30 years of age, people who make less than $30,000 a year, and African-Americans rather than whites or Hispanics. A challenge for unions will be mobilizing these groups politically, since they tend to turnout in low numbers during elections.

The Pew research shows that the overwhelming majority of Americans favor unionization for all sectors of the economy, including public employees. The lowest support for unionization is for fast food workers, but even with this group, 62 percent believe workers should be allowed to form unions.

The resurgence for labor among young people makes sense because “young people have grown up during a massive recession and watched wages associated with middle-class jobs of yesteryear drop precipitously,” says Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig in The New Republic. “Unions might be the most promising way to assure that working class people get a shot at turning their jobs into livable occupations.”

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