New Plan Would Alter Work Hours for Millions of Americans

Senator Bernie Sanders is bringing forth a bill that aims to alter the working hours of countless Americans.

Bernie Sanders, the independent senator from Vermont, has revealed his intention to introduce a bill that would make the 32-hour workweek the norm across the United States. Moreover, Sanders emphasizes that this change should not result in a pay cut for workers. In a recent press release, Sanders asserts that reducing working hours is crucial to ensuring that technological advancements, like automation and artificial intelligence, benefit the working class rather than just corporate CEOs and wealthy stockholders on Wall Street.

In a press release, Sanders emphasized the need for change, pointing out that American workers have become over 400 percent more productive compared to the 1940s. Despite this significant increase in productivity, there is a concerning trend of longer working hours and lower wages for millions of Americans, which calls for immediate action.

According to the author, transitioning to a 32-hour workweek would be a significant move in ensuring that workers reap the rewards of the substantial boost in productivity brought about by new technologies. In 2023, productivity reached an all-time high, making it crucial to take this important step.

Senator Laphonza Butler, a Democrat from California, will be partnering with Sanders to introduce the bill in the Senate. Likewise, Representative Mark Takano, also a Democrat from California, will be taking the lead in introducing the bill in the House of Representatives.

“It’s about time we prioritize reducing stress levels and improving the quality of life for Americans. I firmly believe that implementing a 32-hour workweek, without any decrease in pay, is the way to achieve this,” wrote Sanders.

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It is still unclear how many Democrats in the Senate would back Sanders’ bill, as it would probably face significant opposition in the Republican-controlled House.

In recent years, there has been a growing support for four-day workweeks in the U.S. This shift is driven by workers who are advocating for increased flexibility in their jobs.

According to a poll conducted in March 2023 by Redfield & Wilton Strategies for Newsweek, a significant majority of Americans, 71 percent, are in favor of implementing a four-day workweek. The survey, which sampled 1,500 adults on March 7 and March 8 of the previous year, revealed that only 4 percent of respondents opposed this idea.

The UAW union advocated for a 32-hour workweek during negotiations, believing it would provide a more balanced work-life situation.

The recent round of negotiations for the union did not ultimately lead to the proposal taking off. However, the discussions sparked by the battle have raised the question of whether it might be time to consider reducing working hours.

In December, UAW President Shawn Fain expressed his belief to CNN that achieving a shorter workweek is a feasible objective.

The International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans reported in September 2023 that approximately 5 percent of employers in the United States currently provide their employees with a four-day workweek. Additionally, an additional 14 percent of employers are contemplating implementing this arrangement for their workforce.

Employers who chose not to offer a four-day workweek cited different reasons for their decision. Some expressed concerns about the challenges of implementing such a schedule across their entire workforce. Others worried about potential negative impacts on their business operations. Additionally, there were doubts about whether they would be able to adequately support their customer base with reduced working hours.

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Lawmakers in Massachusetts are actively considering the idea of implementing a shorter workweek. To explore the feasibility of this concept, they introduced a pilot program called Massachusetts Smart Week. The program aims to encourage businesses to adopt a four-day workweek by offering them tax incentives. Participating companies will also be required to share their findings, enabling experts to analyze the outcomes. NBC Boston reported on this initiative.

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