Labor unions’ favorability among Americans has improved even more since last year according to a poll released this week by Gallup, the internationally renowned polling organization. Seventy-one percent of Americans now approve of labor unions, up from 64% before the pandemic. It’s now at the highest level Gallup has recorded since 1965.

Sixteen percent of Americans live in a household with one person who’s a union member, down one percent from last year’s poll. But that number is still within the 14% to 21% range Gallup has recorded on union households since 2001.

According to Gallup, the most important reasons for joining a union are better pay and benefits (65%) and employee rights and representation (57%). Minnesota State Building and Construction Trades Council President Joe Fowler weighed in on the poll’s results: “We have a favorable environment now because people want representation. They want their voices heard. The way to do that is as a collective voice through labor.”

It’s no surprise the benefits package is an important factor in union membership. Added Fowler, “And we offer a quality product as organized labor. With good wages and training that benefits workers. Healthcare and medical costs are important, too, because you are better off buying those as a collective than buying it on your own.”

Gallop’s “Bottom Line” on the poll included this summation: “The low unemployment rate that developed during the pandemic altered the balance of power between employers and employees, creating an environment fostering union membership that has resulted in the formation of unions at several high-profile companies. While already on an upswing, public approval of unions has only increased further during the pandemic and is now at a level not seen in nearly six decades.”