• Do You Support Unions? Most Americans Do Now.

    Union approval has jumped to 58 percent after nearly a decade of dismal numbers, according to a Gallup poll released Monday.

    The labor movement suffered its lowest ever approval of 48 percent back in 2009. According to the poll, up until this most recent spike, unions have struggled to come close to the 60 percent approval they enjoyed prior to 2009. This compared to the 1950s when unions experienced an all time high of 75 percent.

    The purpose of unions is to help workers negotiate with their employers. There are a few ways in which workers can seek union representation. They can join together, on their own, or more often then not vote in an existing national union. Supporters argue unions help to give workers a voice. Critics, on the other hand, have bashed unions for being more self-interested even at the expense of workers.

    Though also growing at 37 percent, the number of people who want unions to have more influence is very small. The percentage, however, is up from 25 percent in 2009. The numbers come as many states have recently moved to curtail union power.

    Right-to-work laws are the most widely used policy to rein in union power. The policy, which has passed in 25 states, outlaws mandatory union dues or fees as a condition of employment. Wisconsin became the latest state to adopt the policy after Gov. Scott Walker signed it into law earlier this year.

    Walker was already at odds with unions for separate policies he pursued in his first term which also limited union power. He is now running for president in the Republican primary.

    According to Gallup, union approval seems to be tied into how the economy is doing. They were hit the worse during the 2008 financial crisis but have recovered as the economy has. Neither union approval or the economy, however, is completely restored.

    Nevertheless, the economy has seen improvements in several critical areas. Unemployment has gone steadily down since the financial crisis, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2010 unemployment hit 9.4 percent but it is now at 5.3 percent. Before the crisis, however, unemployment was at around 4.7 percent.

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