New study on trust in labor unions and institutions in general

Most recently, we had observed major changes in trust in institutions in our surveys. After a decline in confidence in all the institutions examined in April ’22, trust in trade unions has recently recorded the greatest gain.

Initially, trust in trade unions fell significantly from 24% to 19% from October 2021 to April 2022, in line with trust levels in other institutions. In November 2022, it rose significantly again to 24% – more than for all other institutions surveyed.

The absolute values may not seem great here. However, we have surveyed institutional trust on a 5-point scale and presented only the two largest manifestations above. Respondents were relatively most likely to place “mediocre” trust in trade unions.

Trust in the public media or the federal government could not recover during the period and even continued to fall. Most recently, between 40 and 48% expressed “little” or “no” trust in the two institutions.

In a detailed analysis of the change in confidence in trade unions, we look at who has particularly low trust in trade unions and who has a particularly high level of trust in trade unions. On the other hand, we look at who has recently gained trust more frequently.

It has a positive effect on trade union confidence when people have a direct connection to trade unions and their activities – for example, they are members themselves or work in a co-determined company. As expected, the “quality of experience” plays an important role here: Employees who are satisfied with the work of their works council also have higher trust in trade unions on average. Those who are dissatisfied are more likely to be suspicious. Also, trade union trust goes hand in hand with that in other institutions, so it is apparently “with fundamental acceptance of the pol. systems”. Trust is also more likely to be above average among supporters of “progressive” parties such as the SPD, Greens, Left (&FDP).

What is noteworthy, however, is that the increase in confidence in trade unions between April and November ’22 affects different groups to a similar extent, including, for example, those who do not vote at all or vote for the AfD.

This suggests that trade unions have the potential to make a convincing offer to those groups that are otherwise rather sceptical about the political and democratic system. In the case of respondents who are very worried, for example because of the general. economic situation or the soz. Inequality, trust in trade unions tends to be lower. However, it increased more frequently than average between April and Nov ’22.

Apparently, the trade unions have recently been perceived by some as a social actor that addresses the problem of social justice in an appropriate way.

The study is based on 3 survey waves of the WSI Labour Force Panel, which surveyed 5,100-6,200 people in the labour force between🇩🇪 Oct ’21-Nov ’22. The full study by Bettina Kohlrausch and myself can be downloaded here:

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