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Americans Split Over the Importance of Unions

Friday, August 29, 2014

RMU Poll Reveals Americans Split Over the Importance of Unions,

But Favor Right-to-Work Laws

  • Two-thirds of Americans (64.2%) Support Right-to-Work Laws
  • Americans Evenly Split – Unions Valued (32.2%) and A Thing of the Past (33.3%)
  • Majority (53.5%) Sees Minimum Wage Increases Hurting Small Business

PITTSBURGH, August 29, 2014 – As the United States gears up for the Labor Day holiday, many Americans question whether labor unions continue to have any value, according to the latest poll by the Robert Morris University Polling Institute Powered by Trib Total Media.

A slim plurality of those surveyed (33.3 percent) view unions as “a thing of the past and unnecessary today” while 32.2 percent said they see unions as “valued and important.” The rest indicated they had no strong opinion either way or were unsure.

Approximately 64 percent of Americans said they support right-to-work laws, which in some states prevent employees from being required to join a union as a condition of employment. 

The poll also revealed skepticism toward increasing the minimum wage. A majority of respondents (53.5 percent) agreed with the statement, “Increases to minimum wage levels hurt small businesses” and 39.3 percent agreed that, “When minimum wages increase, teens and college students go without jobs.” However, only 20.8 percent of respondents agreed they could make ends meet by earning minimum wage.

“The recognition by a majority of respondents that the minimum wage hurts small business is a good sign that people understand the implications of raising the wage,” said RMU economist, Brian O’Roark.

“The nearly 40 percent of respondents who realize a minimum wage hike will cost younger workers jobs is higher than I expected, but frankly not as high as it should be,” said O’Roark. “This is where the greatest harm from raising the minimum wage will come. When a teenager doesn't get hired because they aren't worth the higher salary to the business, we can't easily say that the minimum wage caused a lost job.”

ABOUT THE POLL: The Poll was conducted by the Robert Morris University Polling Institute Powered by Trib Total Media. Polling by the Institute is conducted on a regular basis and may also include spontaneous polling on occurring events.

METHODOLOGY:  The Poll sampled opinions of 1,001 Americans approximately proportional to state population contributions nationwide. The poll was conducted Aug. 18-22, 2014. All surveys were conducted using an online survey instrument. The poll has a +/-3.0 percent margin of error and a 95 percent confidence level on a composite basis.

ABOUT ROBERT MORRIS UNIVERSITY: Through 60 undergraduate and 20 graduate degree programs across five academic schools, Robert Morris University (RMU) in Pittsburgh, Pa., works to change its students' lives so that they can go out and change the lives of others for the better. More than 5,000 undergraduate and graduate, nontraditional and online students from 37 states and 37 nations are enrolled at RMU, which sits on 230 scenic acres just 20 minutes from downtown Pittsburgh. Emphasizing experiential learning, Robert Morris focuses on professional development, service learning, global awareness, undergraduate research, campus leadership, and cultural experiences, all of which are documented on our innovative Student Engagement Transcript. More than 100 clubs and organizations help students to develop leadership skills, network professionally, and meet friends. RMU also has 16 NCAA Division I athletic programs, including football, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s ice hockey, and men's and women's lacrosse. Learn more at


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