Bernie Sanders: US should have a 4-day work week

4 mins read

The Vermont senator wants workers, not just bosses, to benefit from technological advances.

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders believes that the standard work week in the United States should be reduced from 5 days to 4 without cutting workers’ wages.

Sanders, who is promoting his new book It’s OK to Be Angry About Capitalism, tweeted this demand on Wednesday.

“With the explosion in technology and increased worker productivity, it’s time to move to a 4-day work week with no wage loss,” Sanders tweeted from his government account.


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Technology should benefit workers, not just CEOs.

Sanders included a link to a Washington Post article about the results of a 4-day work week pilot program in the United Kingdom, which has been widely shared by proponents of the idea in recent days.

During the pilot program, 61 companies with a total of about 3,000 employees switched to 4 days a week for 6 months. Of these 61 companies, 56 said they would maintain the 4-day week after the end of the program, while 18 said they would make the switch permanent.

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Workers report a wide range of physical and mental health benefits from reduced working hours, including better sleep, lower stress levels, and more time to spend with children and other family members. Fifteen percent of workers say that no amount of money will ever convince them to willingly work 5 days a week again.

Proponents of the 4-day work week, like Sanders, argue that technological advances have increased workers’ productivity to the point that they no longer need to spend as much time doing their jobs as they used to.

The pilot program provided some support for this argument: Companies’ revenue remained more or less the same over the course of the program, but increased by 35 percent compared to the same period in previous years.

The shorter working week also contributed to combating employee burnout, which has been a major problem since the beginning of the Covid pandemic. The number of employees resigning during the trial period decreased.

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Opponents of a shorter work week argue that productivity would eventually fall and that workers in certain sectors, such as healthcare and services, would not be able to directly reap the benefits of a four-day work week.

But Sanders’ defense of the four-day work week is in line with his long-standing practice of defending worker power. The US is currently in the midst of an explosion of labor actions, which Sanders has vocally supported and which have been seen to change working practices in numerous sectors since the start of the pandemic.

In the US Congress, the Vermont senator is not the only one in favor of reducing the standard weekly workweek. California Representative Mark Takano has introduced a bill that would reduce the standard work week to 32 hours in 2021 and require employers to pay employees overtime for work beyond that.

 

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