By Harold Meyerson, The American Prospect

Labor’s Improved but Uncertain Prospects. The public backs unions but the law does not, though some key administration officials are trying to change that.

On Labor Day 2021, the prospects for American workers are both hopeful and ominous, depending on which metric we choose to look at. Earlier this week, Gallup’s annual poll showed that unions had a 68 percent approval rating, the highest they’ve enjoyed since 1965. Among the young, approval stood at 77 percent, and even Republicans were evenly divided, with 47 percent (drawn disproportionately from low-income Republicans) approving and 47 percent disapproving. Of course, a poll of Republican elected officials would come down 100 percent on the disapproval side; that’s not a scientific analysis, but one based on years of listening for so much as one pro-union peep from a Republican member of Congress and hearing instead only venomous rants.

In terms of how workers are doing in the actual economy, the evidence is temporarily and fitfully hopeful. The refusal of millions of workers to return to the shit jobs that our economy has generated, even in the face of lingering high unemployment, has compelled even many of the most callous employers to raise wages and improve working conditions, to keep former, current, or prospective employees from jumping to better gigs. Last Thursday, even Walmart raised its hourly minimum to $12 and announced additional increases for hundreds of thousands of other employees.

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