In recent weeks, workers at Kelloggs and Nabisco have taken to the picket lines hoping for better deals from their employers. According to a new survey, the majority of people support them.
Data for Progress, a progressive pollster, was commissioned by the AFL-CIO labor federation to gauge the public's reaction to the strikes that made headlines this fall and summer. Nearly 1,300 voters were asked to answer an online survey asking if they approve of workers striking for better wages and benefits.
Seventy-four per cent of respondents strongly supported or somewhat supported the strikes, while only 20% strongly disapproved of or somewhat disapproved. Six percent of respondents did not express an opinion. (View the complete results.)
It's not surprising that 87% of Democrats supported strikers, which is why the support was stronger among them. However, support for strikers was strong among Republicans and independents, with 72% approval and 60%, respectively.
Although respondents over 45 expressed more support, those under 45 had stronger opinions. Respondents who identified themselves as Black supported strikes with an overwhelming 85% approval rate, compared to 72% for respondents who identified themselves as white.
Ethan Winter, senior analyst with Data for Progress, stated that the results of the survey on strikes seem to be in line with Gallups polling about union favorability. This year, it reached its highest level since 1965. He said that striking workers are supported by people who have become more open to collective bargaining and unions.
Winter stated to HuffPost that the pandemic has brought workers rights to the forefront of public consciousness in many ways. It is a sign of the profound change that the coronavirus epidemic has caused, to see a bipartisan majority supporting workers who want better wages, benefits, and working conditions.
John Deere workers at the Iowa picket line. Scott Olson via Getty Images
The recent strikes and strike threats have given rise to the hashtag #Striketober, as a growing number of workers, buoyed by a tighter-than-expected labor market, use their leverage to try to improve wages, benefits and safety. Each strike is unique, but many share the same themes. For example, workers want more time with their families or companies want to create two-tier work systems that pay less for new employees.
Sixty-nine thousand television and film workers have recently approved a strike authorization. However, their union quickly reached a tentative contract agreement that has removed a Hollywood work stoppage from the table. The strike in the movie industry would be the biggest strike in the private sector in the United States in 14 years.
Kaiser Permanente has seen more than 33,000 health care workers authorize strikes, largely because of the proposal by employers for a two-tier system. Although workers are not required to approve a strike authorization, it does allow union leaders the flexibility to call off a strike at their discretion.
Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that the number of large work stops of more than 1,000 workers this year has exceeded the 27,000 workers who were affected by the pandemic of 2020. This was one of the lowest levels in modern times.