Studying a large American union, we report on findings from two studies investigating perceptions of and attitudes towards unions through a generational cohort lens. Study one explores the link between generational cohort and members’ perceptions of unions, employing qualitative analysis of 100 interviews: 30 Millennials, 35 Gen X, and 35 Baby Boomers. Analysis determined that union members focus on either ideological or instrumental explanations to support perceptions that their generation was either pro-union or anti-union. Themes identified in study one were further explored in a quantitative study which involved statistical analysis of survey data (n = 4717) to identify possible differences in pro and anti-union attitudes across three generational cohorts: baby boomer (n = 2857), Gen X (n = 1256), and millennials (n = 304). Data from both studies support the idea that pro-union perceptions and attitudes are more prevalent among those in the baby boomer cohort than Gen Xers, and millennials.

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Journal of Social Psychology
Sprott School of Business

Smith, C.G. (Chris Gordon), & Duxbury, L. (2019). Attitudes towards unions through a generational cohort lens. Journal of Social Psychology, 159(2), 190–209. doi:10.1080/00224545.2019.1570906