How Millennials Can Make Their Mark on Unions

Source: Alan Greenblatt, Governing, July 2014

Younger workers can bring a new energy to organized labor. But if unions want to attract millennials, they’ll have to change some of their ways…. For the first time in many years, unions see a chance to make themselves more attractive not just to graduate students, but to young workers in general. Today’s young people — the millennial generation, who are now 32 and under — are currently trending leftward in their attitudes about many economic issues. Specifically, they are much more likely to hold favorable opinions about unions than older adults. Polling by Gallup and the Pew Research Center shows that about 60 percent of those under 30 express support for unions, compared to about 40 to 45 percent of older Americans. The resentment that turned young people away from organized labor in the 1970s and 1980s — when there was a widespread perception that unions were in place mainly to protect the status quo for a select group — has largely faded away. It’s been replaced by at least a small uptick in feeling that unions can return to their roots as vehicles for collective action aimed at improving the lot of lower- and middle-class workers across the board….