Bernie Sanders, Shawn Fain:” The case for a 32-hour workweek with no loss in pay”

Bernie Sanders, Shawn Fain:” The case for a 32-hour workweek with no loss in pay”

The following piece by Sen. Bernie Sanders and UAW President Shawn Fain appeared in the Opinion section of The Washington Post.

Although it is rarely discussed in the media, the Senate overwhelmingly passed legislation to establish a 30-hour workweek in 1933. While that legislation ultimately failed because of intense opposition from corporate America, a few years later President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Fair Labor Standards Act into law and a 40-hour workweek was established in 1940.

Unbelievably, 84 years later, despite massive growth in technology and worker productivity, nothing has changed.

Today, American workers are more than 400 percent 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.

The sad reality is, Americans work more hours than the people of most other wealthy nations. In 2022, U.S. workers logged 204 more hours a year than employees in Japan, 279 more hours than those in the United Kingdom and 470 more hours than those in Germany.

Despite these long hours, the average worker in America makes almost $50 a week less than he or she did 50 years ago, after adjusting for inflation.

Let that sink in for a moment. 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.

Think about all the incredible advancements in technology — computers, robotics, artificial intelligence — and the huge increase in worker productivity that has been achieved. What have been the results of these changes for working people? Almost all the economic gains have gone straight to the top, while wages for workers are stagnant or worse.

While CEOs are making nearly 400 times as much as their average employees, many workers are seeing their family lives fall apart, missing their children’s birthday parties and Little League Baseball games, as they are forced to spend more time at work. What stresses them out even further is that many still do not have enough money to pay rent, put food on the table and send their kids to college without going deeply into debt.

This should not be happening in the United States of America in 2024. It’s time for a 32-hour workweek with no loss in pay.

For the rest of the piece, visit The Washington Post here.

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