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AI-led productivity hike should result in reduced workweeks, says Bernie Sanders

Senator Bernie Sanders speaks to members of the United Auto Workers (UAW) union during a rally in Detroit, Michigan, on Friday.—AFP

Bernie Sanders, the liberal US senator, has called for a discussion on substantially reducing the workweek in response to the ongoing boom in artificial intelligence and robotics.

Sanders made this statement on CNN’s State of the Union.

He argued that if these technological advancements result in increased productivity, the benefits should be shared with workers in the form of more paid time off.

Sanders highlighted the stresses faced by most Americans in areas like parenting, housing, healthcare, and finances, which have shortened their life expectancies. He stated that the benefits of new technology should be directed towards workers to enable them to spend more time with their families, engage in cultural activities, and access better education.

The concept of a shorter workweek was raised by Jake Tapper, the host of State of the Union, in the context of the four-day workweek sought by the United Auto Workers (UAW).

Approximately 13,000 UAW members recently went on strike against major carmakers, including General Motors, Ford, and Stellantis, demanding a shorter workweek among other benefits.

Sanders supported the idea of a shortened workweek and criticised the significant salaries earned by car manufacturers’ executives in comparison to their workers’ wages. He pointed out large pay gaps and noted that executives had seen their pay increase significantly while workers’ real hourly earnings had declined.

The strike by UAW members has gained significant public support, with 75% of Americans expressing support for the striking auto workers in a recent Gallup poll. The strike’s scale could potentially impact the US economy and lead to higher car prices for consumers.

Sanders attributed the strike to corporate greed and expressed solidarity with the UAW for standing up against it. He argued that the working class is suffering while corporate executives are benefiting from their greed, and he applauded the UAW for taking a stand.

Overall, Sanders’s call for a reduced workweek reflects a broader discussion on how technological advancements should benefit workers and promote a better work-life balance.

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