If you think your favorite campground is crowded now, imagine what it would look like if everyone had an extra day off from work every week.
Progressives in the U.S. Congress are proposing a bill that would mandate a 32-hour work week in America. The bill is called the “32-hour Workweek Act,” and it is being endorsed by the Congressional Progressive Caucus, a group of nearly 100 legislators.
The bill was introduced in July by Congressman Mark Takano (D-CA).
The intent of the bill may sound a bit far-fetched and difficult for American businesses to embrace, but it has been tried with some success in other countries that claim it has increased productivity and worker happiness.
“For far too long, workers across this country have been forced to put in longer hours as their wages barely budge,” Representative Pramila Jayapal, (D-WA,), the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said in a recent statement. “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. The 32-hour work week would go a long way toward finally righting that balance.”
For the bill’s proponents, there may have never been a better time than now to reduce the work week. The U.S workforce has undergone abrupt changes in the past two years. In just the past few months many employers have shifted to work-from-anywhere models for their businesses, and millions of American workers have left their jobs entirely through the “Great Resignation” as they pursue either other careers or self-employment.
If you think a shortened work week could never happen here … it already has. In 1940, the Fair Labor Standards Act decreased the standard work week from 44 hours to the current 40-hour limit before employers are forced to pay overtime to most workers.
Bill author Takano said the legislation would force overtime pay to kick in after 32 hours of work per week. He also said the bill would allow more people to participate in the labor market at better wages. The bill wouldn’t apply to certain employees such as independent contractors or freelancers.
American workers now reportedly work more hours than any other country in the world, while also taking the fewest vacation days. The pandemic made things even worse, with U.S. workers reporting they were working an average of three extra hours each week.
There’s an organization called the 4 Day Week Campaign that has a global pilot program it’s rolling out in several countries. A pilot project is currently underway in Ireland, Scotland, Japan and Sweden, with more trials planned soon in the U.S. and Canada.
A previous pilot program in Iceland found workers reporting less stress and burnout, along with high levels of positivity and happiness with no drop in productivity.
Federal workers in the United Arab Emirates will be going to a four-and-a-half-day work week next month. UAE officials expect the move to improve both productivity and the work-life balance.
A four-day work week in the U.S. would mean massive changes in almost every avenue of American life. It would certainly change how employers managed their businesses, and it would forever change the relationship Americans have with their own free time.
Many workers will likely welcome a 32-hour work week that measures compensation more on their productivity than just the act of showing up at the office. Who wouldn’t like a better work/life balance and more time to enjoy their family and the great outdoors?
As demonstrated by the Great Resignation and the move to remote work, the change may already be under way as millions of American workers purchase recreational vehicles and choose to work from the road as they travel campground to campground.
If a 32-hour work week ever does become law, RVers would undoubtedly ramp up the use of their rigs and even more newbies will flock to dealer lots with open wallets. It would likely extend the current frenzy at RV manufacturing plants and put additional pressure on the campground industry.
The 32-hour Workweek Act is still before the House Committee on Education and Labor.