Earlier this year California Rep. Mark Takano introduced a bill to shorten the workweek in the United States to 32 hours. Now, it’s getting some support from the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Deseret News reports,
Nearly a quarter of the members of the U.S. House of Representatives are throwing their support behind a proposal aiming to institute a national 32-hour workweek policy, according to a Wednesday announcement.
Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif., said his “32 Hour Workweek Act” would reduce the standard workweek from 40 hours to 32 hours by lowering the maximum hours threshold for overtime compensation for non-exempt employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act. While it wouldn’t mandate 32-hour weeks for all, those working beyond that mark would be entitled to overtime pay under his proposed changes.
Takano says the bill has earned the backing of the nearly 100 members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and is intended to begin a national transition “toward a modern-day business model that prioritizes productivity, fair pay and an improved quality of life for workers across the country.”
The Hill reports that Congressional Progressive Caucus chair Pramila Jayapal said
Takano’s bill could put power back in the hands of American workers whose wages have stagnated over decades.
“For far too long, workers across this country have been forced to put in longer hours as their wages barely budge,” Jayapal said.
“It is past time that we put people and communities over corporations and their profits — finally prioritizing the health, wellbeing, and basic human dignity of the working class rather than their employers’ bottom line,” Jayapal continued. “The 32-hour work week would go a long way toward finally righting that balance.”
It’s great that the bill has gotten support from the caucus, but I would also love to see it get some bipartisan support. If I were a Republican politician, I could easily talk about the 4-day week as being family-friendly, as encouraging global competitiveness and efficiency, focusing on performance rather than appearance (unlike some of us), and demonstrating that Republicans know how to be good stewards of the economy. In fact, Richard Nixon made many of these arguments in 1956 when he spoke in favor of the 4-day week.
I could also point to the fact that two Republican governors have actually trialed or implemented 4-day weeks. In 2008, governors Jon Huntsman in Utah, and Linda Lingle in Hawaii, both moved government offices to a 4-day week, in an effort to reduce their state’s energy bills (this was when oil prices were through the roof). Neither experiment lasted that long– as oil prices fell the logic for the 4-day week became less compelling, despite the other benefits it brought– but in Hawaii, it was successful enough for Republican candidate James Aiona to make a permanent shift to a 4-day week part of his platform during a 2010 run for the governor’s mansion.
So there is a precedent for GOP governors using the laboratories of democracy to give the people a better deal etc etc etc. Whether there’s space for such a thing these days, who knows; but I for one would like to see the 4-day week be something that everyone can agree on.