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.

Generational Differences, Union Attitudes, Union Renewal
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