They hate unions, hate the minimum wage, hate labor laws in general and in some cases they even hate bans on child labor. But now, some Wisconsin Republicans are taking the extra step in the GOP’s war on workers by moving to establish a seven day work week, because in reality, time off from work is nothing short of an affront to workers.
Glenn Grothman, a Tea Party Republican state Senator from Bend, has put forward a proposal to the state legislature, which would seek to roll back many of the gains for worker protections won by unions, central among them, the five-day work week. Referring to the laws as “goofy,” Grothman suggested they be scaled back, naturally, in the name of “freedom.”
Wisconsin is one of only a few states in the nation to mandate by law that workers be given at least one 24-hour “rest period” per every five days worked. The once staunchly pro-union mid-western state has been a battle ground over labor rights since the 2010 election of Governor Scott Walker and the occupation of the capital Madison. Throughout the early part of 2011, shortly after Walker’s inauguration, the capital city of Madison experienced a long and highly publicized occupation protest by workers, organized unions and progressive activists, who opposed Walker’s assault on collective bargaining rights and agreements, leading ultimately to a failed recall effort in 2012.
The move by Grothman is likely to be celebrated among state Republicans, who over the past several years have bent over backwards in their efforts to restore gilded age labor policies, much to the benefit of themselves and their industrial backers/cronies. Labor unions and their allies have been working overtime since the GOP took the power of the state to combat a rising tide of pro-corporate, anti-worker legislation. This latest battle concerning work week limitations, which is often cited as a central victory in the history of the American labor movement, is being seen by many as one of the most overt Republican assaults on worker rights to date.
Calling the five day work week law, which serves to ensure employers are not over-working their employees, “goofy,” Grothman went on in an attempt to rationalize his proposals in an interview with the Huffington Post stating:
[box type=”shadow”]“…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?”[/box]
Now, beyond ignoring the larger economic realities of employers throughout the country, routinely seeking to reduce working hours and outsource many jobs either to overseas plants or through automation, Grothman seems to be overlooking the slightly smaller but just as pressing realities in his own state. With Wisconsin presently 33rd in the nation for overall job creation and the Walker administration’s track record of killing job creating public works projects, such as the 2011 light rail contract with Spanish train maker Talgo, which resulted in the loss of several thousand jobs and the filing of a civil suit by Talgo against Walker and the state for breach of contract, the presumed factory jobs with oodles of available overtime are likely about as in touch with reality as Grothman’s opinions on women in the workplace.
In the same Huffpo interview, when asked about equal pay for woman, the Winsconsin Tea Party Senator said simply that “You could argue money is more important for men.”
The only real thing is, no, you can’t Glenn. You actually can’t. Maybe you should take some time off and think a little more about these things. Luckily for you, there’s a law about that still.