Buried in a Pew Research survey released earlier this year is an interesting tidbit: Millennials (people born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s) hold a much more favorable view of labor unions than do older Americans. The statistic presents a bit of a paradox because young people are, far and away, the least likely age group to be members of a union.
If Millennials are such staunch supporters of unions, why aren’t they actually joining them?
“I think the reason Millennials tend to be positive on union is that they’re what’s called a ‘civic generation,'” explained Michael Hais, co-author of the bookMillennial Momentum: How a New Generation Is Remaking America. “They are very group-oriented and look out for the benefit of the group over individuals. They have an ingrained sense of equality and want to find win-win situations that benefit large groups of people.”
Hais asserts that civic generations, another example of which is the so-called “Greatest Generation,” are strongly influenced by economic and foreign policy stressors during their formative years. For the Greatest Generation, those experiences were the Great Depression and WWII. For their part, Millennials were similarly shaped by the high unemployment rates of the Great Recession and 9/11 attacks. “Growing up in the shadow of these events gave Millennials the conviction that everyone needs to pull together to get through,” argued Hais.