Gallup’s Annual Labor Union Approval Report: Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics

There are 3 types of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics – Mark Twain

Gallup recently published its annual labor union approval report.

71% of Americans approve of labor unions. This is the poll’s highest ever approval rating (poll started in 1965). Approval has only once dipped below 50% (2009).

I see pro-union pundits equate “approval” for unions with “desire to be in unions.” One such headline read: If America had Fair Laws, 60 Million Workers Would Join a Union Tomorrow.

Um, no.

People may approve of unions but do not want to be in a union. I approve of plenty of things that I don’t want to be part of.

The pro-union pundits usually fail to include that the poll also said only 40% of union members say their membership is “extremely important” to them. This makes sense since most union members never voted to be in their union; they just happened to get a job at a company that already had a union.

Moreover, 58% of respondents said they were “not interested at all” in joining a union.

So how do pro-union pundits conclude that 60 million people want to be in a union when 58% of respondents said they were “not interested at all” in joining a union?

By, as Paul Harvey famously said, leaving out “the rest of the story.”


Matt Austin is a nationwide management labor lawyer. Labor laws govern virtually all private-sector employees regardless of union membership. Proactive management of labor relations is critical to maintaining flexibility and increasing profit.

Matt also runs Austin Legal’s HR Legal Compliance Program that, for a small monthly fee, ensures HR decisions are protected by the attorney-client privilege.

Matt’s experience is deeply rooted in helping manage many aspects of his clients’ businesses. To effectively manage labor relations, he must also manage budgets, forecasts, new growth areas, and projected market corrections. High emotional intelligence is also critical to negotiating union contracts and to properly advise HR Legal Compliance members through the nuances of the law, its application to their companies, and how it will be received by employees.

You can reach Matt via email at