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Approval of Labor Unions Increases Slightly to 65%, Holds at 50 Year High

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Updated (09/09/2020)  This morning, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, social unrest, and record high U.S. unemployment, the Gallup organization reported that approval of labor unions increased slightly year-over-year and holds steady at 65%.

In past years, we have noted a demonstrated inverse correlation between the unemployment rate and union approval.  In other words, as unemployment rises, approval of labor unions typically tends to fall.  Not this year!  

According to Gallup, this new data point could be bucking the trend because the American public is focusing on issues other than the economy. 

What are Americans focused on?  Gallup reports that overall satisfaction among Americans remains at historical lows (only 13% of Americans are satisfied with the way things are going). Simply put, public health and larger social issues are the main focus these days – and for good reason. 

A Change in Direction Would be Welcomed by Most Ameircans  

At Chessboard, we monitor and analyze the political landscape from the perspective that changes in political direction typically also result in changes in national labor policy. 

If the November election produces a change in party control within Washington, we will likely return to a regulatory environment that is more supportive of organized labor.  And, in the extreme, we could see passage of pro-labor legislation such as the PRO Act (Protecting the Right to Organize). 

Through it all, we will be here to help you make sense of, prepare for, and respond to any changes in labor policy.  Happy Labor Day!


As COVID-19 Ravages Communities, Unions Seek an Advantage

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Updated (05/25/20) – At this moment, COVID-19 has sickened millions in the U.S.  As the U.S. death toll approaches 100,000, healthcare employees are, understandably, confused and scared; the global pandemic threatens not only public health, but also economic well-being. 
Labor unions like the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and National Nurses United (NNU) are working overtime to exploit COVID-19-related confusion and fear. Unions are not only criticizing healthcare leaders, they are demanding “more” when it comes to compensation, paid time off, and workplace safety.  The SEIU, for example, offers a “toolkit” which includes links for employees to download and customize their own list of COVID-19-related workplace demands.

And, as the crisis evolves for healthcare leaders and staff, four topics take center stage:   1) Personal Protective Equipment (PPE); 2) Expanded Paid Time Off (PTO); 3) “Hazard Pay”; and, 4) Refusal to Work Policies. 

Personal Protective Equipment:  Since mid-March many hospitals have gone beyond CDC guidelines and provided all patient-facing employees with PPE.  Still, confusion abounds. The scarcity of PPE is universal, prompting even the Joint Commission to issue a statement in support of healthcare workers bringing their own PPE from home. 

Expanded Paid Time Off:  Beyond protection for their own health and the health of their families, healthcare employees want to know their employer stands behind them if they get sick or are otherwise impacted by the pandemic (i.e., quarantined, low censused, furloughed, or laid off).  On March 31,the Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) announced dramatic safety and pay-protection measures for HCA employees.

Increased Compensation or “Hazard Pay”: The idea of “hazard pay” originated with non-healthcare employers like Amazon, Albertsons, Kroger, Safeway, and Whole Foods who decided to pay employees an additional $2.00 (or more) per hour as a bonus for working during the crisis.  Unions are now demanding increased pay and/or pay protection for healthcare workers (represented and non-represented). 

Refusal to Work:  While many healthcare employers now offer expanded PTO for employees impacted by COVID-19, in most cases, employees must first exhaust opportunities to be redeployed. Hospitals are now dealing with employees who refuse redeployment as well as a surge of complaints filed with local OSHA offices.

As always, we hope you find this information useful – please stay safe!

Gallup Survey Results: Union Approval 64%, Near 50-Year High

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Happy Labor Day! 

The folks at Gallup have published the results of their annual public opinion poll on support for labor unions. 

According to Gallup pollsters, “Sixty-four percent of Americans approve of labor unions, surpassing 60% for the third consecutive year and up 16 percentage points from its 2009 low point.” 

Pointing to the relationship between polling responses and the current unemployment rate, Gallup pollsters also reported that “the current 64% reading is one of the highest union approval ratings Gallup has recorded over the past 50 years, topped only in March 1999 (66%), August 1999 (65%) and August 2003 (65%) surveys.”   

Significantly, according to the most recent Gallup survey, support for unions is:

  • Higher among women (66%) vs. men (61%).
  • Highest among ages 18-34 (67%) vs. ages 35-54 (64%) and 55 + (61%).
  • Higher among college graduates (68%) vs. no college (58%).
  • Much higher among Democrats (82%) vs. Republicans (45%).