Are Union Members More or Less Likely to Be Environmentalists? Some Evidence from Two National Surveys

Source: Todd E. Vachon and Jeremy Brecher, Labor Studies Journal, Vol. 41 no. 2, June 2016
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From the abstract:
This study examines the relationship between unionization and environmental attitudes and behaviors in two national surveys. We begin by comparing the responses of union versus nonunion respondents to sixteen environmental questions in the General Social Survey for various years between 1993 and 2010. Overall, union members are, on average, slightly more likely than the general population to display pro-environmental attitudes and behaviors—having moderately greater mean values for ten of the sixteen pro-environmental items and displaying no difference on the remaining six items. Next, we look at three environmental questions in the American National Election Studies in various years between 1980 and 2012 and find union members on average to be more likely to support environmentalism than the general population for all three items. Finally, we conduct a robustness check by reducing the sample to just employed workers for each of the surveys and find the results to be substantively similar to those for the general population. This study contributes to the ongoing “jobs vs. the environment” debate as well as discussions about the ability of the labor and environmental movements to work together as a broad-based progressive movement for social change.