Bernie Sanders Has Proposed A Four-Day Workweek With No Loss In Pay

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont took center stage on Thursday as he led a hearing for his breakthrough legislation, in a bold bid to transform the American work situation.

The proposed initiative, named the “Thirty-Two Hour Work Week Act,” seeks to transform existing employment practices by reducing the typical workweek from 40 to 32 hours over four years. Sanders’ vision does not end there; it also contains measures to decrease the overtime compensation threshold for nonexempt employees. Workers would be entitled to time-and-a-half compensation if they worked more than eight hours in a day, and double their usual salary if they worked more than 12 hours in a shift.

“Moving to a 32-hour workweek with no loss of pay is not a radical idea,” Sanders said in a statement. “Today, American workers are over 400 percent more productive than they were in the 1940s. And yet, millions of Americans are working longer hours for lower wages than they were decades ago. That has got to change.”

“The financial gains from the major advancements in artificial intelligence, automation and new technology must benefit the working class, not just corporate CEOs and wealthy stockholders on Wall Street,” he said. “It is time to reduce the stress level in our country and allow Americans to enjoy a better quality of life. It is time for a 32-hour workweek with no loss in pay. I look forward to the discussion this week.”

Sanders presented the measure alongside Sen. Laphonza Butler, D-Calif.; Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif., submitted a corresponding bill in the House.

Sanders, who chairs the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, has invited United Auto Workers President Shawn Fain, Boston College sociology professor Juliet Schor, and Kickstarter’s chief strategy officer and co-founder of the Four Day Workweek Campaign, Jon Leland, to testify at the proposal hearing.

Sanders cites data analysis in a news release on the legislation, demonstrating that while typical American workers’ weekly pay have decreased after accounting for inflation over the past 50 years, CEOs’ earnings have increased by hundreds of times.

“It’s time that working families— not just CEOs and wealthy shareholders — are able to benefit from increased productivity so that they can enjoy more leisure time, family time, education and cultural opportunities, and less stress,” the fact sheet says.

Sanders also cited other nations that have shortened workweeks, such France, Norway, and Denmark, as well as experimental four-day workweek programs that have shown improved worker satisfaction and productivity.

Sanders cited productivity data from economies that have embraced shortened workweeks during the hearing on Thursday.

He stated, “One of the things we need to talk about is stress in this country, the fact that so many people go to work physically and psychologically exhausted.” Additionally, the Fair Labor Standards Act was passed in 1940 and has not since been amended. In 1940, we devised the 40-hour workweek. Who is going to contest that over that time, the economy has not undergone significant and fundamental change?

Fain emphasized that a large number of American workers are underpaid and unable to retire until later in life, at which point they may be experiencing serious health issues.

“Working-class folks aren’t inherently lazy. They’ve had enough. As wealth inequality in this country and around the world spins out of control, they’re tired of being left behind and robbed of their dignity, Fain added. “They’re tired of America.” Three households in America own more wealth than the poorest half of the population. That is illegal.

The top member of the committee, Bill Cassidy, R-La., retorted that American workers manage their personal and professional life well and that certain companies might gain from shorter workweeks if it suits their particular industries.

But a 32-hour work week with the same salary, Cassidy argued, would be bad for trades, restaurants, and small enterprises. He also issued a warning, pointing out that while a shortened workweek would seem to benefit American workers in the short run, it might eventually result in layoffs if companies were unable to keep up.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *