Senator Bernie Sanders Wants the United States To Embrace a 32-Hour Workweek

Independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders recently introduced a bill that would shorten the American workweek to 32 hours. This would be the amount of time Americans would work weekly prior to them being paid overtime.

The typical American workweek is 40 hours.

Due to advances in automation, robotics, and artificial intelligence, Sanders believes US companies can afford to provide employees more time off without slashing their pay and benefits. Sanders’ legislation would prohibit employers from lowering their workers’ compensation and benefits to match their reduced hours. 

Sanders claimed that workweek reductions would be carried out over the span of four years. 

Sanders says the work time reductions would be phased in over four years. The Vermont Senator held a hearing on the bill on March 14  in the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, of which Sanders serves as the chairman. 

Critics believe a 32-hour workweek might work for companies where employees spend the bulk of their time at computers or in meetings. However, such a workweek plan could turn out to be disastrous for production levels  at manufacturing plants that need workers at the ready to keep assembly lines up and running.

Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy is also another skeptic of the 32-hour workweek, arguing that paying workers the same wages for fewer hours would compel employers to pass the cost of hiring additional workers. 

“It would threaten millions of small businesses operating on a razor-thin margin because they’re unable to find enough workers,” stated Cassidy. “Now they’ve got the same workers, but only for three-quarters of the time. And they have to hire more.”

Overall, less work hours is a good idea but not something that should require state force to impose. 

Ultimately, the best way to improve living standards is through free market reforms. That means abolishing the regulatory state, introducing a system of competing currencies, and slashing taxes. 

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