Bernie Sanders Joins Calls For A 4-Day Workweek: “There Is No Debate”
“As much as technology and worker productivity has exploded in recent years, there is no debate that new breakthroughs in artificial intelligence and robotics will only accelerate the transformation of our economy,” Sanders wrote.
In a recent op-ed published in The Guardian, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders doubled down on his call for a four-day workweek for all U.S. workers. In the op-ed, Sanders renewed calls for fewer hours with no cut in pay and pointed out that the federally recognized work week has not been revised in over 80 years — since FDR signed the Fair Labor Standards Act in 1938.
The Senator has been vocal in the past about the need for a 32-hour week, tweeting back in February that “With exploding technology and increased worker productivity, it’s time to move toward a four-day work week with no loss of pay. Workers must benefit from technology, not just corporate CEOs.” Sanders has long advocated for U.S. workers and also recently called for an increase in the federal minimum wage — from $7.25 per hour to $17 per hour.
Research shows that thanks to momentous advances in technology, today’s workers are 480% more productive than workers in the 1940s, just after the Fair Labor Standards Act was enacted. Despite this dramatic increase in productivity, Sanders pointed out “the result” of these changes: “millions of Americans are working longer hours for lower wages, with the average worker making nearly $50 a week less than he or she did 50 years ago, after adjusting for inflation.”
“Yet despite all of these incredible gains in productivity, over 40% of US employees now work more than 45 hours per week; 12% work more than 60 hours a week; and the average worker now works 43 hours per week. Many are on their computers or answering emails seven days a week,” wrote Sanders.
The Senator also cited several recent studies highlighting the benefits of a shortened work week. The trend has been gaining momentum globally, with successful trials in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. The largest of these to date, performed in the UK last year, consisted of over 3,000 workers from over 60 countries. After completion of the trial, 92% of the companies opted to continue with a shortened workweek saying productivity was up, profits increased, and workers were happier and less stressed.
Though the federal government has been slow to embrace a shortened work week, several states — including California, Hawaii, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington — have weighed the benefits of a four-day week. And U.S. Representative Mark Takano of California has introduced federal legislation that would require businesses to pay overtime for any hours worked above 32 per week.
“As much as technology and worker productivity has exploded in recent years, there is no debate that new breakthroughs in artificial intelligence and robotics will only accelerate the transformation of our economy,” Sanders wrote. “That transformation should benefit all, not just the few. It should create more time for friends and family, more time for rest and relaxation, more time for all of us to develop our human potential.”