Radicals Press Harder For Shorter American Workweek 

Progressive Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and the president of a large union recently wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post that called for workweeks to get shorter.

The op-ed was written by Shawn Fain, who is the United Auto Workers’ president, and Sanders, the independent senator who twice ran for president and lost. They argue that the workweek should be shortened without workers receiving a cut in their pay.

In referencing several other countries that have either tested different schedules or fully implemented them, the two wrote:

“Let’s be clear. This is not a radical idea: Belgium has already adopted a four-day workweek.”

Sanders has already introduced a proposal in Congress that would establish a workweek of only four days without workers getting a reduction in their pay.

The bill would be phased in over four years, and ultimately would reduce the overtime pay threshold from 40 hours down to 32. Overtime pay would also have to be 1.5 times what a workers regular salary is for any workday that’s longer than eight hours. That rate would increase to 2 times for any workday that was longer than 12 hours.

In their op-ed, the two say productivity of workers in the U.S. has increased since 1933, when the Senate passed a 30-hour workweek. As they wrote:

“Today, American workers are more than 400% more productive than they were in the 1940s. And yet, despite this fact, millions of our people are working longer hours for lower wages. In fact, 28.5 million Americans now work over 60 hours a week and more than half of full-time employees work more than 40 hours a week.”

They further wrote that when adjusted for inflation, workers in the U.S. are earning about $50 less per week than they did 50 years ago. In the op-ed, they wrote:

“In a 1974 office, there were no computers, email, cellphones, conference calling or Zoom. In factories and warehouses, there were no robots or sophisticated machinery, no cloud computing. In grocery stores and shops of all kinds, there were no checkout counters using bar codes.”

For a long time now, Sanders has advocated for many progressive policies, including increasing taxes on wealthy people in the country. He criticized wealthy billionaires in the country such as Jeff Bezos of Amazon, who Sanders says doesn’t pay his “fair share of taxes.”

Sanders recently also appeared on Fox Business and had a heating exchange when talking about this exact topic.

In the op-ed, Sanders and Fain wrote about the strike at the UAW that happened last year. Workers at the Big Three automakers demanded that “a four-day, 32-hour workweek at the same rate of pay” be introduced for workers, among many other benefits.

While the union didn’t win those demands, Fain and Sanders wrote that “the struggle continues.”

This proposal would likely face significant backlash among many businesses and organizations.