Surprise: Public approval of unions remains near record low

Gallup first asked Americans to evaluate labor unions in 1936, at which time 72% approved. The all-time high of 75% approval came in 1953 and 1957 surveys. Support for unions declined in the late 1960s and early 1970s, but mostly hovered around the 60% mark until last year, when it dropped below the majority level for the first time.

In the poll, 10% of Americans identify themselves as union members, and an additional 6% say another member of their household belongs to a union. Seventy-two percent of Americans who are union members or live in a union household approve of unions, compared with 48% of those in non-union households.

Union approval varies widely by political party affiliation — it is 71% among Democrats compared with 34% of Republicans and 49% among independents.