Harris Interactive surveyed 2,450 people to learn their attitudes about labor unions. The overall results were what you might expect in the current climate – unions are not very popular – but what you wouldn’t expect is the negative attitude about them in union households.
To be sure, “union households” is an imperfect measure of support for unions. I, for one, was brought up in a union household. But the Harris numbers are startling nonetheless, especially when examined without reference to the larger population.
First the positive news. Seventy-two percent of union household members agree that unions “improve wages and working conditions of workers,” while 55 percent agree that unions “work to get legislation that helps all working people, whether they are union members or not.”
After that, large numbers of union household members hold what are clearly “anti-union” attitudes. Sixty percent believe unions “are too involved in political activities.” Sixty-three percent think unions “are more concerned with fighting change than with trying to bring about change.”
Those are differences of opinion with the unions’ external activities. What’s worse is how they view unions from within. Forty-six percent believe unions “stifle individual initiative.” Most troublesome is that only 47 percent think unions “give members their money’s worth for the dues they pay.”
What we don’t know is if individual initiative has been stifled to the point that no one will do anything about it.