Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif., told Business Insider on Monday that a shorter work week would improve low wages, give workers more power in their workplace, and help chart a course for how things will change, post-pandemic.
"There's a great sort of opening for people to see it as part of a new normal, a new normal that they'd like to build," Takano said. "800,000 Americans dying within a two to three year span has been traumatizing, and we have an opportunity now to look at the world with far-more experienced eyes."
Takano’s bill would revise the Fair Labor Standards Act that established the 40-hour work week. In his interview on Monday, the congressman pointed to the large numbers of people resigning from their jobs in the past year as evidence that Americans are ready to rethink work.
"This much stronger connection to human mortality has made people value their time," Takano said. "I think there was a 'great realization' among a lot of Americans — how hard they're working and that they wanted to move on from the jobs that they were working at. So a four-day work week is something that connects a lot of Americans."
He added, "I care about making capitalism sustainable and more humane — and less low-road and less cutthroat.”
Takano said that if a shorter work week is combined with an improved minimum wage, stronger unions, and better overtime conditions, then, "I think we do have a chance of seeing people actually making a livable salary, a livable wage at 32 hours a week.
"We want a world where there is a sustainable wage for everybody. We need workers to be able to have some leverage with regard to employers. It can't be that all the power is with employers."
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