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This Wisconsin Lawmaker Wants to Take Away Workers’ Weekends

This Wisconsin Lawmaker Wants to Take Away Workers’ Weekends

Written by Bryce Covert

Wisconsin state Sen. Glenn Grothman (R) is pushing to undo the state’s law that employers have to provide their employees with at least one day off a week, the Huffington Post reports.

The Huffington Post obtained an email Grothman sent to other state lawmakers on Friday in which he proposes legislation that “would allow an employee to voluntarily choose to work without one day of rest in seven.” State Rep. Mark Born (R) is sponsoring the legislation in the state Assembly.

Wisconsin is somewhat unique in having the law on its books. “Right now in Wisconsin, you’re not supposed to work seven days in a row, which is a little ridiculous because all sorts of people want to work seven days a week,” Grothman told The Huffington Post. But workers don’t have to get a day off every seven days, as they could work for up to 12 in a row “if the days of rest fall on the first and last days of the 2 week period,” according to the law. Grothman called the law “goofy” and called undoing it a matter of “freedom.”

While he argues that the law would ease workers’ ability to work overtime, it’s possible that employers would force their employees to work the extra time, making it less than voluntary. “It’s a very hard thing to know whether something is truly voluntary or not,” Vice President of the Economic Policy Institute Ross Eisenbrey told the Huffington Post. “If the employer puts pressure on people and lets them know they will be unhappy if workers exercise their right to have a day off, that might be enough so that no worker ever does anything but volunteer to work seven days a week.”

In fact, the power usually lies with employers and instances of them abusing labor laws are already on the rise. In 2009, two-thirds of low-income workers said they had experienced a wage law violation in the previous week alone. Wage theft, where an employer illegally withholds overtime pay or makes its employees work off the clock, robs low-wage workers of more money than is stolen from banks, gas stations and convenience stores combined. Actions filed in federal court alleging wage and hour violations increased by 400 percent between 2000 and 2011.

And the law doesn’t always come to workers’ rescue. In California, workers recovered less than half of what was taken from them from 2008 to 2011, and, worse, 83 percent of those who actually proved a case of wage theft still never got what they were owed.

American workers already put in more hours and are guaranteed less time off than most other developed peers. We work more than in any other industrialized countries. Unlike in the United States, it’s illegal in six of the 10 most competitive countries in the world to make workers put in more than 48 hours a week. The United States also lacks laws guaranteeing that workers can take time off if they or their family members are sick, will get vacation or holiday time off, or can take paid time off for the arrival of a new child. Many other developed and competitive countries, on the other hand, do guarantee these things.

Grothman would also go further and take away the national holiday for government workers on Martin Luther King, Jr., day. He was a sponsor of the country’s first preemption bill that blocked cities and local communities from enacting paid sick days legislation in Wisconsin.

This post was originally published in ThinkProgress

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Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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143 comments

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1:06PM PST on Jan 12, 2014

7-day work weeks means that employer payroll is going to increase, which means the costs for goods and services are going to increase and no one is going to be any better off.

10:30AM PST on Jan 12, 2014

A 21st century "Scrooge"!

7:34PM PST on Jan 11, 2014

Isn't it amazing that people who don't work full time think people who do want to work more?

1:17PM PST on Jan 11, 2014

Really? What's next? Work permits at age 12?

8:34PM PST on Jan 10, 2014

No doubt this Grothman will babble on about "family values" when it comes to any of his pet issues, but allow workers (many of whom may be single parents) any actual time with their families, forget it!

As for those of you, who see nothing wrong with workers being pressured into endless overtime, what is next getting rid of the child labor laws too?

Wisconsin used to be one of the most progressive states in the country, why do they now push the agenda of 1%? The people there must be watching too much Faux (Fox) news.

If we keep on going in direction of making our work force on the par with developing nations, we will all end up like the Earth dwellers in Elysium.

6:37PM PST on Jan 9, 2014

If it was truly a voluntary thing and no employee would be let go for not offering to work more days, then I don't see anything wrong with it. Many people need to work more hours to support their families and would be glad to volunteer. Some companies won't allow morel hours and that hurts some families. If they didn't have to pay overtime, just regular wages, I think more companies would allow this. It helps out the employer and the employees.

3:15PM PST on Jan 9, 2014

“Right now in Wisconsin, you’re not supposed to work seven days in a row, which is a little ridiculous because all sorts of people want to work seven days a week,” Grothman told The Huffington Post. ....Grothman would also go further and take away the national holiday for government workers on Martin Luther King, Jr., day. He was a sponsor of the country’s first preemption bill that blocked cities and local communities from enacting paid sick days legislation in Wisconsin.

YOU FIRST Grothman. You, the Senate and the Congress.

7:27AM PST on Jan 9, 2014

Has anyone looked at how many days Congress actually worked this year? Have you seen how many days off they took? And they are trying to push WHAT? Workers don't want more days, they want more HOURS in A day to work! How about giving Americans their jobs BACK with DECENT hours and a LIVABLE wage? What the HELL is happening to America? Are we REALLY going to allow this to happen to us? Vote these bastards out in November, people. We are going backwards, not forwards. And people who hate Obama are so blinded by their hate, they don't realize what the folks they elected are doing to them!!!

2:15AM PST on Jan 9, 2014

Employers have upper hand everywhere. I don't know when that is going to change. Americans want to change they have to take it to the streets. Egyptians done it, Moroccan, Libyans why not Americans? Are you so affluent that you don't want to leave your comfort zone?! What happened to Occupy Wall Street? Capitalist bankers, insurers along with their paid politicians suppressed it? Only revolutions with good leaders bring change for the ordinary people.

10:14PM PST on Jan 8, 2014

It would have been easier for him to say, I'm resigning.

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