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As we pass another observance of Labor Day, the “annual celebration of the social and economic achievements of American workers,” there can be no doubt, given the proposed overtime pay rule, recent actions of the National Labor Relations Board and remarks by President Joe Biden, that the current governmental environment tilts in favor of workers, not corporations.

But in case it wasn’t clear, the federal government makes no secret about it. The Department of Labor said it is “building a worker-centric economy from the bottom up and the middle out by leveraging federal investments to create good jobs, while protecting workers’ rights, wages, health and safety, and supporting workers’ rights to organize for better conditions.”

And the results of a new survey suggest that a majority of Americans like it that way.

Findings of a Gallup poll released last week include that 67% of Americans approve of labor unions, and one-third of Americans expect that unions will grow stronger in the future.

For those keeping score, Gallup said that the percentage of Americans who approve of labor unions today, 67%, is down slightly from 71% a year ago, but 2023 marks the fifth straight year that support has exceeded the long-term average of 62%.

Most poll participants (77%) said they believed that unions help rather than hurt members, and a record-high 47% said that unions also help rather than hurt nonmembers, according to Gallup.

Other records set with the 2023 survey are 1) that 61% of respondents said that unions help rather than hurt the US economy and 2) that 43% of Americans want unions to have more influence.

Perhaps not surprisingly, “support is highest among Democrats and lowest among Republicans, with independents’ views somewhere in the middle,” Gallup said. The company noted, however, that “the trends for all three groups have increased since 2009, largely paralleling the national figures.”

Indeed, according to the survey results, support for unions is high across all political affiliations, with 88% of Democrats, 69% of independents and 47% of Republicans approving.

Of course, many workers do not belong to unions, but the research contains lessons for employers. One lesson? “Today’s striking workers may have a stronger hand in their negotiations than they would have had in the past given today’s elevated public support for unions — the public relations risks appear higher for employers today,” Gallup said.

How strong that upper hand is may depend on the state, according to a separate analysis by Construction Coverage of data from UnionStats and the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The analysis found that union membership was highest in coastal states such as Hawaii, New York and Washington, with rates of 21.7%, 20.6% and 18.0%, respectively. Conversely, Southern states such as South Carolina (1.7%), North Carolina (2.8%), Virginia (3.7%), Texas (4.1%), Georgia (4.4%) and Florida (4.5%) all ranked in the bottom 10 states for union membership.

Norwich–New London, CT, had the lowest union membership rate (18.5%) of the 15 small metropolitan areas studied, whereas Glenn Falls, NY, had the highest (36.4%).

Of 15 mid-sized markets, Oxford–Thousand Oaks–Ventura, CA, had the highest percentage of union membership (42%), whereas Spokane–Spokane Valley, WA, had the lowest (16.6%). Of 55 large metros studied, Charlotte–Concord–Gastonia, NC/SC, had the lowest union membership (2.3%), whereas Buffalo–Cheektowaga, NY, had the highest (23.5%).

Lois A. Bowers is the editor of McKnight’s Senior Living. Read her other columns here.