Wednesday, October 24, 2007

A new movement for the 8-hour day?

The Nation had an interesting article today about Americans’ steadily increasing workday and workweek. Since health care and other benefits are costing more and more per worker, companies would rather force workers to work overtime than hire more workers. Union members often have protections against mandatory overtime, but those without the protection of a union contract can be forced to work 12 or more hours a day. This is a problem not just for workers and their families but also for patients in hospitals in which nurses are working 12+ hours a day, and for drivers on the road when truckers have been driving for more than 10 hours.

I wonder what kind of effects increased hours have on participation in religious congregations. I've certainly seen people drop out of my church after they were forced to work longer hours. After 50- or 60-hour weeks on top of family responsibilities, not many people have time to get involved in their church, synagogue, mosque, or other community institutions. It's time to re-build the movement for the 8-hour day.