Why a California Congressman Proposed a Four-Day Work Week

The coronavirus pandemic has changed a lot about work, with millions doing their jobs from home, others quitting altogether, and some – ...


The coronavirus pandemic has changed a lot about work, with millions doing their jobs from home, others quitting altogether, and some – as they finally return to the office after two long years – expecting a greater degree of flexibility.

But California Congressman Mark Takano wants to see an even bigger change: a four-day workweek enshrined in law.

“There are economic, political and social upheavals,” Takano, a Democrat who represents the Inland Empire, told me recently by phone. Americans, he said, don’t “want to go back to the same old normal.”

Since Takano introduced the 32 hour work week law in July, several groups, including the Economic Policy Institute and the nearly 100-member Congressional Progressive Caucus, endorsed the measure, which would cut the standard eight-hour workweek.

The change would not require employers to switch to a four-day work week model, but rather to start paying their employees overtime after 32 hours.

“As Americans have become more productive, their incomes have really not budged,” Takano said, adding that he hopes the bill will make hiring more competitive and give employees a better work-life balance. personal. He added: “What collective choice do we want to make about how we work?

Admittedly, the notion of a four-day work week is not new.

In 1970, The New York Times reported that the trend was “accelerating”. Later the cover suggests that the idea periodically accumulated steam. But while the proposal continued to resurface and was adopted in some corners, it never became mainstream. That would be impossible, critics say, in some customer-facing industries. Others suggest it could become too costly for businesses.

The bill has yet to be heard by the House, but Takano says if there’s a time such a proposal could finally succeed, it’s now, after the collective trauma of the pandemic. “The social memory of the past two years,” he said, is what makes this moment “different.”

Across the United States, the disruptions caused by the coronavirus have gave workers new leveragecontributing to an increase in demands, strikes and organizing efforts in industries, including hospitality, educationand cinema and television. Employees also have stop in record numbers: In November, more than 4.5 million people quit their jobs, according to the Labor Department, the highest figure recorded in two decades of tracking.

In other parts of the world, the idea of ​​the four-day work week has already caught on.

In March 2021, the Spanish government declared that it offer 200 companies the opportunity to apply for grants to introduce four-day working weeks without pay cuts. Unilever in New Zealand also tested the idea. He delivered a surprising result: Workers were more productive.

There’s “no correlation between working longer hours and better productivity,” said Joe O’Connor, chief executive of Four Day Week Global, a nonprofit group.

This year, the organization is conducting trials around the world with dozens of companies, including several in the United States. According to O’Connor, it’s “a pie in the sky” to believe work could go back to how it was before the pandemic began. “This will not be the case.”

In California, several tech companies have made the switch, a factor that Takano says will bode well for the bill’s popularity. In January, San Francisco-based company Bolt decided to permanently offer its employees a 32-hour week, citing greater efficiency among the majority of its employees after a three-month trial.

Base camp, another tech company that works remotely, has offered its employees a four-day week during the summer for more than a decade. “We don’t do as much, but I think it’s worth it,” Jason Fried, CEO and co-founder of the company, told me.

He added: “This obsession with doing as much as possible is unhealthy.”

Livia Albeck-Ripka is a New York Times reporter based in California.

Eshkenehone of the oldest dishes in Iranian cuisine.


Today’s tip comes from Alison Rose, who recommends the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens:

“The different floral collections seem almost endless and smell like a dozen kinds of paradise. The location on the coast offers incredible views, and the shop and cafe are also cozy and wonderful. It’s a peaceful and awesome way to spend an afternoon, especially if you need a quiet escape from city life!”

Tell us about your favorite places to visit in California. Send your suggestions to CAtoday@nytimes.com. We will share more in future editions of the newsletter.


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But the couple can determine with certainty when they fell in love. It was Presidents Day weekend in 2018, which Friedell spent most of the time with chipped front teeth because his had been hit by a bottle while the two were at a bar.

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