Racine Journal Times editorial: Seven-day workweek proposal should be sent home for good January 16, 2014
On the heels of Gov. Scott Walker’s evisceration of state employee unions, it is perhaps not unexpected that lawmakers would take up where the governor left off and advance the cause of a seven-day workweek.
That would be state Sen. Glenn Grothman, R-West Bend, who, along with state Rep. Mark Born, R-Beaver Dam, is championing the right of retail and manufacturing workers in the state to work without a day off if they so choose.
“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 said in an interview on his proposed bill.
Grothman maintains state laws which require employers to give an employee 24 consecutive hours of rest in each calendar week is “goofy” and tramples on the “freedom” of workers to make a little extra cash and put their noses to the grindstone for however long they please.
“So, a lot of time you may have a factory that wants to run more shifts or want to work overtime and is short of people — and the employee wants to work and the employer wants them to work, why shouldn’t they be able to work?” Grothman told one interviewer.
Born said the legislative proposal “just seems like a win all the way around.”
It is perhaps not surprising that the genesis of the legislation came not from the Wisconsin AFL-CIO, but was advanced at the behest of Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, the state’s largest business organization.
Grothman and Born originally said they had heard from businesses with employees who want to work the additional time, but when pressed for names, Grothman declined to name a business and Born said the only people he met with were from WMC.
The trick question in the bill, of course, is defining “voluntary.” Grothman said his bill would require an employee to sign a document stating they are choosing to work seven days a week.
We can only imagine the difficulty that would pose for a worker — any worker — when his employer comes around with a sign-up sheet for those “voluntary” seven-day work weeks. Not signing on the dotted line might take the worker off the fast track for future promotions and brand them as less-than-committed to the company’s success. It might even jeopardize the worker’s existing job.
That kind of intimidation isn’t really needed in Wisconsin workplaces.
Wisconsin law already allows workers to work 12 straight days in a two-week period — when their days off come at the beginning and end of that period. That has been — and should continue to be — sufficient. An endless string of seven-day workweeks — voluntary or not — can’t help but have a toll on a worker’s mental health and ability to recharge, and it could also hurt workplace safety.
The Grothman-Born bill should be punched out and sent home.