Public Perceptions of Union Efficacy: A Twenty-Four Country Study

TitlePublic Perceptions of Union Efficacy: A Twenty-Four Country Study
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsGivan, Rebecca Kolins, and Hipp, Lena
JournalLabor Studies Journal
Pagination7 - 32
Keywordsjob satisfaction, perceived job security, public opinion, union membership, union revitalization, unions, working conditions

Since the perceived efficacy of unions is one of the best predictors of an individual’s willingness to vote for or join a union, this article examines the relationship between union membership and perceptions of unions. In particular, we ask: How do union members feel about unions in comparison to nonunion members? How do former union members feel about unions in comparison with those who were never members? How do different groups of workers perceive unions? We answer these questions by analyzing large-scale, cross-national survey data on perceptions of unions. The data contain 14,733 observations in twenty-four countries and are taken from the 2005 wave of the International Social Survey Program (ISSP). The survey asks how respondents feel about the effects of unions on both job security and working conditions. From our analysis, we can conclude that union-membership status (both current and past) and gender matter in determining perceptions of the efficacy of unions. In particular, we find that union members feel more positive about the ability of unions to improve working conditions and job security than nonunion members and that former members tend to be more positive than never union members in these views. We also find that among nonunion members, women tend to hold a more positive view than men of the effect of unions on job security.