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Breaking: Bernie Sanders Set to Shake Up Labor Laws with Bold 32-Hour Workweek Proposal

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Would reducing work hours to 32 make employees happier? Would it make workers happier? Bernie Sanders, Vermont’s Socialist Senator, thinks this is a good idea. He will introduce legislation that mandates a 32-hour week for the same amount of money as workers make in 40 hours.

This would certainly be a piece of legislation that many workers would support. Sanders makes some surprising points on why this change would be beneficial.

Sanders stated in a press release that the idea of a 32-hour week without any pay loss is not radical. “Today’s American workers are 400% more productive than in the 1940s. Yet, millions of Americans work longer hours and earn less than they did decades ago. That has to change.”

He said that the financial gains that come from major advances in artificial intelligence, automation, and new technology should benefit the working classes, not just the CEOs of corporations and the wealthy stockholders of Wall Street. It is time for Americans to have a higher quality of life and reduce stress in the country. It’s time to have a 32-hour week without any pay loss. “I look forward to this discussion next week.”

Comparing work done in 1940 with current work is misleading. Different jobs require different skill sets and different productivity measures. It’s like apples and oranges.

It is not true that a shorter week makes employees happier or relieves stress. It’s difficult to measure “happiness” accurately. Some studies suggest that a shorter workweek improves productivity. Social scientists use “satisfaction” which is different from “happiness”.

To reduce stress, no matter how many hours an employee works, they must complete the task. I don’t think that reducing stress would be quantifiable.

NBC News:

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.

The fact sheet states: “It is time for working families, not just CEOs or wealthy shareholders, to be able to benefit from increased productivity, so they can enjoy leisure time, family, education, cultural opportunities, and less stress.”

Wages aren’t just a measure of wealth. The purchasing power of wages and how a family spends money is more important than the wages themselves. Color television was an expensive luxury when I was growing up in the 1950s or 1960s. Computers, the internet, video games, and smartphones were not available. Apple, streaming services, and satellite technology were not available.

Families spend money on all of these things. Some of these things are essential to living in the modern world. All of these technologies are much cheaper today than they were in the 1960s when many of them first appeared.

Are Americans stressed out by the purchase of these gadgets and gizmos?

He said, “We need to address the issue of stress in the country. So many people go to work physically and mentally exhausted. We haven’t changed the Fair Labor Standards Act – since 1940, when we introduced the 40-hour week.”

The work has changed dramatically. The physical effort is reduced, and machines are doing most of the heavy lifting and mental work.

If you want to reduce stress, it’s important to look at your home life. Stress is far more prevalent at home than in most workplaces. A 32-hour week won’t fix this.

Bill Cassidy (R-La. ), the committee’s ranking member, countered by saying that U.S. employees have a good balance between work and their personal lives and that businesses can benefit from reducing workweeks, if that is what their line of work requires.

However, Cassidy said, ” A 32-hour mandated work week at the same wage would be detrimental for small businesses, restaurants, and trades. He warned that while a shorter workweek might seem to benefit the American worker, it could lead to layoffs in the future if the businesses cannot keep up.”

Cassidy said, “We don’t work 80 hours per week like other countries do, but our balance is still intact. This disrupts that equilibrium. We won’t be able to maintain our status as the richest nation in the world if we cripple the American economy by introducing a bill that pretends to benefit the American worker, but will lead to the offshoring of jobs to lower-cost countries.”

It’s a fact that some American companies will move their factories abroad if the proposal is passed. Cassidy has a point. This proposal would be the death knell for American economic dominance.

Before we rush into a 32-hour workweek, let’s be sure that we fully understand this.

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