Public approval of labor unions has declined to the lowest point in 43 years. The latest audit shows 55 percent expressing approval of labor unions, a sharp downtrend since 1957, when a high point of 76 percent approval was recorded.

In the first Gallup Poll measurement in 1936, 72 percent expressed approval of labor unions. By 1941 approval was down to 61 percent, but then followed a general uptrend that reached an all-time high of 76 percent in february 1957.

Since 1965 the approval rating has been declining steadily. The table below shows that this decline has come about equally among members of union families and nonunion people [TABLE OMITTED]

While approval of labor unions has declined in recent years, confidence in "big business" also has declined. A recent nationwide Gallup survey showed fewer Americans expressing confidence in big business than in organized labor.

The latest survey also shows widespread opposition to strikes by publice employes - specifically strikes by policemen, firemen and teachers.

Sixty-one percent of the public thinks policemen should not be allowed to strike; 34 percent belive they should.

By the same ratio, the public votes against permitting firemen to strike. Fifty percent of the public believe teacher should not be allowed to strike; 45 percent believe they should.

Here are highlights from the trend question on unionism.

The question: "In general, do you approve or disapprove of labor unions?"[TABLE OMITTED]

The latest results are based on personal interviews with 1,511 adults, 18 years old and older, interviewed in more than 300 scientifically selected localities across the union during the period May 4-7.