How do Americans feel about 'right-to-work'?

Union members from around the country rally at the Michigan State Capitol to protest a vote on Right-to-Work legislation December 11, 2012 in Lansing, Mich.

This week Michigan's Republican Governor Rick Snyder signed a law that made Michigan the 24th "right-to-work" state in the country. While the legislation is seen as a blow to the state's unions, Governor Snyder told Marketplace that he thinks the new law will advance Michigan economically overall:

"This is about more and better jobs coming to Michigan. If you look at Indiana, they did similar legislation in February, and literally thousands jobs -- new jobs -- are coming to Indiana where this was a major consideration in company's decision to move to that state," said Governor Snyder.  

The news of Michigan's "right-to-work" law reignited a debate about the role of unions in our country today, but how is the issue playing with the American public? According to Gallup, a slight majority -- 52 percent -- of Americans support unions, though only 17 percent are part of a "union household." 

"As is true with so much of America today, [support of unions] is highly divisive along partisan lines," said Gallup editor-in-chief Frank Newport. "If Republicans support right-to-work laws they are playing to their base. Democrats who oppose them are playing to their base."


Check out Gallup's chart below to see American approval of labor unions since the polling firm first began surveying on the topic in 1936:

 

 

About the author

Frank Newport, Ph.D., is the editor-in-chief at Gallup and appears regularly on Marketplace.

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