Labor Day Text Analytics Poll™ Spells Trouble for Labor Unions

Tom H. C. Anderson
September 3rd, 2017

Text Analysis Reveals Fragile Positioning of Labor Unions in 2017 America

Happy Labor Day to our U.S. OdinText Users and Friends!

Over the holiday weekend we thought we’d run one of our quick Text Analytics Polls™, which highlight how a single open-ended question can be used to very quickly and accurately generate deeper insights on almost any subject compared to conventional multiple-choice surveys (with fewer questions and at comparable speed and cost).

In honor of the holiday, we thought we would ask about labor—specifically organized labor unions. We asked 1,500 Americans: “What are your thoughts and impressions of Workers Unions?” The responses—again, people’s comments in their own words—were rapidly analyzed and quantified using the OdinText advanced analytics software platform and are reported below…

Indifference Even on Labor Day

odintext poll

The results suggest organized labor in America today is precariously positioned, with 60% of respondents indicating they are either indifferent (35%) or outright opposed to labor unions (25%).

The Why’s Behind the Sentiment

Unlike conventional multiple-choice surveys, using unstructured questions and text analytics in polling enables us to not only quantify opinions, but also the reasons behind those opinions.

text poll

Most of those in support of unions don’t feel the need to elaborate much. They simply state that labor unions are a great thing and/or mention that they or a family member belongs to a union. The top reasons provided among supporters is that labor unions are a “necessity” (8.7%) and that they protect workers’ rights (4%).

Interestingly, while those who oppose unions are fewer in number than those who support them (25% vs 40%), their reasons tend to be slightly more articulated, with the most popular being that unions are “no longer useful/necessary” (9.3%), and that they are often “corrupt” (4.1%) and “foster laziness” (3.3%).

Takeaways

Labor unions have been on a gradual decline in the US for some time, and OdinText’s analysis of these comments points to a serious positioning problem, which, if left unaddressed, will probably lead to continued decline and, ultimately, irrelevance.

As many respondents indicated they are indifferent about unions as those who support them.  In politics and in marketing, indifference (or lack of loyalty) can spell death, but it also presents an opportunity to persuade. The question then becomes who has stronger, more cogent messaging in place?

Proponents are not inclined to (or could not) offer much explanation for why they support organized labor; conversely, opponents in their responses tend to offer slightly more detailed explanations, with the most frequent being that labor unions are generally obsolete. The distance between indifference and opposition (“unions are obsolete”) in this case isn’t much. So the challenge facing organized labor in America may be to justify its very existence.

That this result came from a poll conducted over Labor Day weekend, I think, speaks volumes, too.

@TomHCAnderson

PS. If you would like to learn more about how easy, fast and powerful Text Analytics Polling with OdinText can be, feel free to join our live Webinar on the 14th.

PPS. Friendly reminder, today is also the last day for NGMR Award Nominations. Consider nominating a worthy company or colleague here.

*Note: n=1,500 responses were collected  9/1-9/3 2017 via Google Surveys which allow researchers to reach a validated U.S. General Population Representative sample by intercepting people attempting to access high-quality online content. Results are +/- 2.53% accurate at the 95% confidence interval. Data was analyzed using OdinText 9/3/17. Request more info on OdinText here.

 

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2 thoughts on “Labor Day Text Analytics Poll™ Spells Trouble for Labor Unions”

  1. Several main themes can be derived from this analysis – 40% are generally positive perhaps by association with people they know – factory workers, teachers, tradesmen, skilled labor etc. and a gentle undercurrent of mistrust of unions can be noticed as well. It would be interesting to see this type of data by age. I would bet that Generation Y is fairly ambivalent about unions, Baby Boomers more positive and Generation X fairly negative.

  2. I wonder how the results might have been different if respondents knew that government employees are unionized at a rate 5 times higher than private sector employees. People’s impressions are based on what they perceive union membership to mean, and could be influenced if they knew that union membership today is largely composed of workers who are negotiating with the representatives of taxpayers on their collective bargaining agreements.

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