Study Proves Benefits of 32-Hour Work Week - The Wednesday AM Quickie 2/22/23
Apologies to those of you who received yesterday's newsletter a couple of hours late. There was some glitch in the publishing software and only a portion of the emails went out on schedule. (To quote Shaggy: it wasn't me.) - Corey
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THE BIG NEWS
A Winning Idea for Ambitious Dems: Shorter Work Weeks
This may not qualify as breaking news in the strict sense (and I swear I'm not highlighting it because my job here has temporarily gone from part-time to full-time) but it sure is validating. The largest-ever study of a four-day workweek recently wrapped up in the United Kingdom and the findings, as reported by the Washington Post, are unequivocal: it's a good thing for workers and employers.
- "15 percent of the employees who participated said 'no amount of money' would convince them to go back to working five days a week."
- "Companies' revenue 'stayed broadly the same' during the six-month trial, but rose 35 percent on average when compared with a similar period from previous years."
- "Only three companies did not plan to carry on with any element of the four-day workweek."
Nearly 3,000 employees from 61 companies took part in the study, which involved researchers from the University of Cambridge and Boston College (that's Boston, Massachusetts and Cambridge, England). Participating employers had options for implementing the shorter work week -- such as giving workers an extra day off per week or reducing their total hours over the course of the year -- but were required to pay out 100 percent of workers' wages.
The study cited other benefits, too, including increased gender equality when it comes to housework and childcare; better sleep and reduced stress for workers; and fewer resignations. (Maybe businesses would have an easier time filling positions if they offered workers a better deal? Just a thought.) Vermont socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders seized on the study yesterday, writing:
With exploding technology and increased worker productivity, it’s time to move toward a four-day work week with no loss of pay. Workers must benefit from technology, not just corporate CEOs.
The 40-hour workweek was written into law in the U.S. in 1938. I joined the workforce approximately six decades later and honestly I don't think any full-time job I've ever had has abided by that standard. Two years ago, California Democratic Rep. Mark Takano introduced a bill to reduce the standard workweek to 32 hours, with guaranteed overtime pay for any work done beyond that limit. Labor unions and House progressives backed that bill at the time, but it never made it out of committee. Advocates acknowledge the schedule change may not work in every industry, but if it makes people's lives better, seriously: why not? This is the kind of thing Democrats all over the country ought to be running on.
MORE STORIES TO WATCH
EPA Takes Over Ohio Rail Disaster Response
Yesterday -- eighteen days after the the toxic rail disaster in East Palestine, Ohio -- The Environmental Protection Agency it was taking control of the response and cleanup, relegating both state regulators and the responsible company, Norfolk Southern, to secondary roles. The EPA's order also requires Norfolk Southern to pay all remediation and cleaning costs, per the Washington Post, and to participate in the kind of public meetings it previously backed out of, citing unspecified threats to employees. The Department of Transportation, meanwhile, announced it will "pursue rulemaking" on flammable trains and "initiate focused safety inspection programs" on routes traveled by trains carrying hazardous materials. "This is the right time for Norfolk Southern to take a leadership position within the rail industry," Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg wrote. Once a corporate consultant, always a corporate consultant.
Putin 'Suspends' Nuclear Weapons Treaty with U.S.
Fresh off his surprise visit to Kyiv, President Joe Biden spoke to a large crowd in Warsaw, Poland yesterday and vowed that and denounced "the atrocities Russia is committing against the Ukrainian people" as "crimes against humanity." Meanwhile in Moscow, Aspiring Tsar Vladimir Putin announced in an invasion anniversary speech that Russia was "suspending," but not fully withdrawing, its participation in the New START nuclear nonproliferation treaty. The 2011 treaty, one of the last standing agreements of its kind, places verifiable limits on deployed nuclear warheads and intercontinental ballistic missiles. The most immediate consequence will be an end to outside inspections of those Russian nuclear sites. Finally, the owner of Russia's Wagner mercenary company accused top military officials of "high treason" for supposedly declining to supply the company with ammunition and air transport. Who will weep for the hired killers?
- Supreme Court Hears Arguments on Key Internet Law Two cases before the court this week concern the future of Section 230, "the rule that launched Big Tech" by absolving platforms of responsibility for content they host. via the Los Angeles Times.
- Georgia Grand Jury Called for Multiple Indictments in 2020 Election Probe "Asked whether the jurors had recommended indicting [Donald] Trump, [forewoman Emily] Kohrs gave a cryptic answer: 'You're not going to be shocked. It's not rocket science.'" via the New York Times.
- Barbara Lee Makes It Official with Senate Campaign Super PAC The Democratic California Rep. released a video yesterday announcing she will join the race to replace retiring Sen. Dianne Feinstein. via the NY Times.
- Mormon Church Fined $5 Million for Concealing $32 Billion in Investments The Securities and Exchange Commission says the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ran an illegal shell company scheme for more than two decades. via NBC News.
- Republicans Use 'Woke' as Code for 'Black,' But Swing Voters Don't Get It Focus group participants "struggled to explain what wokeism is, even in the most general of terms." via the Washington Post.
That's how much one former tenant at a Westminster Management property, owned by Donald Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, was recently offered as compensation following a multi-million-dollar settlement over poor upkeep and conditions that included maggot infestations, black mold, no heat, and raw sewage pouring from the kitchen taps. According to ProPublica, 30,000 current and former Kushner tenants are eligible for unlimited restitution, but only 281 claims have been filed as of last month.
ON THE SHOW TODAY
2/22: Emma hosts writer Malcolm Harris to discuss his recent book Palo Alto: A History of California, Capitalism, and the World.
DON'T MISS MR CLIPS
Greta Thunberg Says Illegal Action Is Needed
Wherein The View discusses direct action.
Is Biden a Progressive President?
Bernie Sanders' book tour is providing a wealth of fine content.
"THERE IS NO PROJECT VERITAS WITHOUT THE IRS. ... Donors donate to our organization in part because of the Tax Deduction."
-- A memo to employees of the $21 million right-wing propaganda and illegal wiretapping non-profit organization, sent last week by the board of directors before they forced out founder James O'Keefe. According to the Washington Post, the board was concerned O'Keefe's lavish expenditures endangered the group's non-profit status; those included spending "$14,000 on a charter flight under the pretense of seeing a donor but instead to meet someone to fix his boat; paying $60,000 for theatrical productions; and shelling out $150,000 for drivers."
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