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Thread: Sanders and 4-day workweek

  1. #1
    alhoon's Avatar Comes Rei Militaris
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    Apr 2008
    Chania, Greece

    Default Sanders and 4-day workweek

    The gist: Sanders says it is time to start discussing about 4-day workweeks with no loss in pay (so essentially a 20% salary increase) since technology makes us more productive and the workers should see benefit from that.

    I strongly disagree with Sanders in a lot of things, and I don't like his approach to this issue... but it is something we should discuss at some point. He does have a point there but I don't like how he frames it.

    Automatization is still raising. Just a year after ChatGTP became famous, there are companies that replace part of the workforce with chatbots. We keep reading about self-driving trucks that spread despite some issues - and the issues will be solved. Precision agriculture requires less hands. etc.

    These are bound to create issues with unemployment similar to how the spread of machines in the industrial revolution created issues. And the point is... do we really need to work as much as we did 3-4 years ago, for companies to remain profitable?

    I... have no answer.

    Yes, google can afford to replace a lot of menial tasks with robots/AI etc. Frankly, technical support and customer support could benefit from having much of the workload go to AI chatbots at the level they already are, before complicated questions go to people.
    Yes, in a few years companies would need much fewer drivers for their trucks. Have one driver lead the 3-truck convoys etc. Same with tractors on the field.
    Thus both such fields would see large lay-offs and unemployment as people are replaced or new positions are taken by AI.


    If there is 4-day workweeks, meaning that some fields won't face such great unemployment and lay-offs it would be 32-workweeks for everyone, meaning restaurants, groceries, supermarkets, shops etc that cannot replace their workforce with AI / Robots / Automatization will see a 20% increase in salary costs as they need to pay 5 people to do the job that 4 people used to do.
    And that's a "woopsie". Yes, McDonalds and other big restaurants will survive the cost increase AND they can afford more automatization in their kitchens.
    But the Corner shoe-shop that has the owner and two employees will face issues.
    And if the various governments go "These jobs now have 32-hour work weeks and those have still 40-hour work weeks" there will still be issues as the shoe-shop employee will consider jumping to one of those 32-hour jobs since they practically pay more. And to compensate, the shoe-shop owner should still give a raise; perhaps not 20% but 10% for sure.

    There are also more issues that I have no answer for:

    32 hours per week sure sound nice. Let's say that all companies can survive that transition.
    What about the free time? That is not a problem for many Americans as they work long hours but trust me, for many people boredom is an issue. Ask retired people and there was a time to adjust to all that free time. I saw that with my parents. And my mother still sneaks to my sister's shop to help her so that she can feel productive.
    "Not an issue, get another job!" is a possible answer.
    "Not an issue, some of those jobs will be about creating entertainment!" is another answer.
    Weeeeell... here is the problem. Many people feel the free time with delving in the echo-chambers of the social media. And then you have far-right and far-left going gaga.
    Of course, everyone is responsible of how he or she spends their time and having options is not a bad thing. Nor is the solution to the echo-chambers "work 14 hours and never see the sun so that you won't have time to get brainwashed".

    Then, there's the ethical issue. Sure, sure, workers should see benefits similar to the CEOs and stakeholders as companies expand and embrace new technologies. And an effective 20% raise to either your free time OR your salary is nice.
    But should we be saying "as our opportunities improve, we should work less" ?

    What do you guys think?
    I am 60% for and 40% against the 32-hour workday and I am 40% for and 60% against Sanders' way of framing it.


    Now on the article itself:
    "Research published in July by 4 Day Week Global, a firm that advocates for a shorter week, found that not one of 41 companies involved in 4-day workweek trials in Canada and the United States planned to return to five-day weeks after the conclusion of the test period."

    I call BS on that. I can't believe not ONE of the 41 companies was against 20% pay-rise, except if the companies were rolling in it. I understand that those companies probably face issues with filling positions, so giving such benefits would attract lots of people they need BUT too-low unemployment is a temporal issue.
    And I would bet none of those companies were companies that salaries took 60% of their gross revenue. Go ask THAT kind of company and then come and tell me they would love a 20% increase in salaries.

    "UAW President Shawn Fain has laid out a series of demands that include a 46% pay raise, a return to traditional pensions, and a four-day workweek capped at 32 hours."

    And they ask me why I am against unions...
    Last edited by alhoon; September 17, 2023 at 11:40 PM.
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  2. #2
    conon394's Avatar hoi polloi
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Colfax WA, neat I have a barn and 49 acres - I have 2 horses, 15 chickens - but no more pigs

    Default Re: Sanders and 4-day workweek

    "UAW President Shawn Fain has laid out a series of demands that include a 46% pay raise, a return to traditional pensions, and a four-day workweek capped at 32 hours."

    And they ask me why I am against unions...
    One does not start bargaining with you final minimal position.

    Seems pretty self explanatory. Not mention corporates profits are a decade long high and all too many corporations wasted their Trump tax cut on wait for it investing in there capital stock, worker training and new equipment - oh no in utterly pointless and useless stick buybacks (unless of course management just wants to pop the stock so they can sell options). Note autoworkers were asked to make all manner of cuts during the bailout... CEO Pay seems to have recovered just fine in fact well ahead of inflation by a significant amount the actual increase asked for by the UAW over I belive 4 years would just basically restore what they gave up to save the companies back in the day.

    edit: That said I think they should lean a bit more into profit share and a clear ability to see the books as were.
    Last edited by conon394; September 18, 2023 at 10:55 AM.
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