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Monday, April 21, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 56.0° F  Fair
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MADLAND

Madland: Glenn Grothman's seven-day workweek is no solution

Grothman's solution for people not making enough is merely to have them work more.
Grothman's solution for people not making enough is merely to have them work more.
Credit:Wisconsin State Senate
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State Senator Glenn Grothman made the news again last week with his proposed bill allowing for a seven-day work week in Wisconsin.

You can make the argument that working every day would help Wisconsinites save some cash. After all, workers with that schedule would have no leisure time in which to spend money on things like going to the movies, driving to a state park, or visiting a museum.

Of course, seven-day-a-week daycare might eat up some of those theoretical savings.

Wait, wasn't it Grothman who had a problem with parents not being around for their kids? That must matter less if the parents are out somewhere working.

I don't have a problem with people working multiple jobs or extra hours if it is actually their choice. I tend to work seven days a week myself, which my partner absolutely hates. My problem with this bill is that Grothman proposes this as a solution for our underemployed, underpaid workforce.

Grothman (and large swathes of his fellow elected officials) are suggesting an entirely one-sided sacrifice -- poverty is made out entirely to be the worker’s problem.

In Grothman's world, workers are supposed to be so grateful to have a job that they would be willing to work seven days a week in order to make ends meet. Prospective employees unable to find work because it is cheaper for employers to run their current staff ragged as opposed to creating jobs? Too bad.

Grothman's solution for people not making enough is merely to have them work more.

But Wisconsinites and other Americans are already working more. As The New York Times reported last year, productivity has gone up while real wages have stagnated for over a decade.

There's no push to make the employers do anything to make the wages or working conditions for their employees better. No incentive for the employer to hire three people working 40 hours a week instead of two to work 60. No increase in pay via an increased minimum wage to make the "optional" hours actually optional.

Don't want to work that seventh day? Grothman's law would make working all seven days optional, but that doesn't mean employers aren't going to try and pressure people into it. Working six days will be like wearing the minimum pieces of flair.

This proposal doesn't even have a protection like the "time and one-half" law Massachusetts has for retail employees working on a Sunday. As a friend pointed out, there's very little in this law to prevent an employer from scheduling an employee for five to six hour shifts all seven days in a week.

Working seven days a week indefinitely is not sustainable, and it is bad for both workers and their families. It is an emergency stop-gap, dressed up by Grothman as empowering workers, but all it does is empower abusive employers.

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