WASHINGTON, DC ā€” A new American Compass report released today shows that U.S. labor unions are not what American workers bargained for: excessive political activism is the number one obstacle to robust organizing, and reforms aimed at cooperation and concrete economic benefits show the greatest promise for a reinvigorated labor movement. The survey kicks off a new collection, A Better Bargain, which presents concrete policy proposals aimed at reestablishing the labor organizationā€™s role and expanding worker support, worker voice, and worker power.

The American Compass Better Bargain Survey, performed in partnership with YouGov, surveyed a representative sample of 3,000 working-age Americans on their attitudes about their jobs and organized labor; their appetite for greater support, voice, and power in the workplace; and their reactions to political messages and policy reforms.

The surveyā€™s key findings include:

  • By a three-to-one margin, potential union members say they would prefer a worker organization that focuses only on workplace issues to one that is also engaged in national politics. Only 35% of non-unionized workers say they would vote for a union, citing political involvement as the top reason for voting no.
  • Fewer than one-in-three workers has a ā€œsecureā€ job, paying at least $40,000/year with predictable earnings, steady hours, and health benefits. Among workers without college degrees, that figure falls to one-in-five.
  • The key driver of satisfaction at work is not objective measures of job quality but rather the character of labor-management relations.
  • Workers prefer a worker organization run jointly by management and employees to one run by employees alone (63% to 37%) and prioritize collective bargaining, benefits and training, and workplace collaboration.
  • One policy proposal that earns especially broad support is a repurposing of the labor organizationā€™s role: prohibiting political spending but allowing funding from employers and governments to provide training programs and benefits.

Click here to read the full report.

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