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Bernie Sanders Advocates for a Shorter Workweek to Make American Lives ‘Better’

Bernie Sanders Advocates for a Shorter Workweek to Make American Lives ‘Better’

Is it time for America to consider shortening the workweek? Sen. Bernie Sanders thinks so.

In an interview with CNN, the Vermont senator has suggested that the conventional 40-hour workweek might be partly responsible for the declining life expectancy of Americans.

The demand for a 32-hour, four-day workweek with the same pay has gained traction, particularly among the United Auto Workers. Last week, UAW members resorted to striking after negotiations with major automakers — including Ford, General Motors and Stellantis — failed to yield a new contract. Their demand reflects concerns about the future of labor in an era characterized by the electrification of the auto industry and the rise of artificial intelligence technologies that could potentially reduce the need for human labor in vehicle assembly.

Sanders, known for his advocacy of workers’ rights, sees the UAW’s position as more than just a bargaining tactic; he believes it merits a larger conversation with industries nationwide.

“As a nation, we should begin a serious discussion about substantially lowering the workweek,” Sanders emphasized. “People in America are stressed out for a dozen different reasons, and that’s one of the reasons why life expectancy in our country is actually in decline.

“People are overwhelmed,” he continued. “They’ve got to take care of their kids. They’ve got to worry about healthcare. They’ve got to worry about housing. They’re worried.”

Sanders is not alone in his call for a shorter workweek. Studies, including a pilot program involving nearly 2,900 workers in the UK, have shown that reducing the hours employees spend at work can be accomplished without compromising a company’s revenue. Furthermore, workers reported experiencing less stress and anxiety as a result.

Sanders’ call for a shorter workweek aligns with a broader movement advocating for work-life balance and greater emphasis on personal well-being. In a society where burnout and stress are becoming increasingly prevalent, the senator shared that it is essential to explore innovative solutions that prioritize the happiness and health of the workforce.

Sanders also argues that cutting down work hours would serve as a fair reward for the substantial gains in worker productivity, especially with the advent of artificial intelligence.

“It seems to me that if new technology is going to make us a more productive society, the benefits should go to the workers,” he said. “It would be an extraordinary thing to see people have more time to spend with their kids, with their families, to be able to do more cultural activities, to get a better education.”

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