Bernie Sanders pushes bill to establish a four-day workweek

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Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., will hold a hearing Thursday on a bill he introduced to reduce the standard U.S. workweek to four days without loss of pay.

The bill, titled the “Thirty-Two Hour Work Week Act,” would reduce the standard workweek from 40 to 32 hours over the span of four years, including lowering the maximum hours required for overtime compensation for nonexempt employees. It would also require overtime pay at time and a half for workdays that last more than eight hours and overtime pay that would pay workers double their regular pay if their workday is longer than 12 hours.

A press release on the bill described it as an “important step toward ensuring workers share in increasing productivity and economic growth driven by technological advancements.”

“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 introduced the legislation with Sen. Laphonza Butler, D-Calif.; Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif., introduced companion legislation in the House.

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

In a news release on the bill, Sanders cites studies that say that although weekly wages for average American workers are lower than they were 50 years ago after adjusting for inflation, CEOs make hundreds of times more than what their workers earn.

“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 pointed to other countries that have reduced their workweeks, such as France, Norway and Denmark, as well as four-day workweek pilot programs that found increased productivity and satisfaction among workers.



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