MADISON (WITI) — If you work in retail or manufacturing, you may soon be able to work seven days a week. Two Republican lawmakers are working on a bill that would make a change to state law. But Democrats and union leaders say – that may not be such a good thing for workers.
State law requires employers to give factory and retail workers at least 24 hours of rest every seven consecutive days.
New legislation would eliminate that law, allowing workers to volunteer to work seven straight days — but opponents say the bill essentially eliminates the weekend.
Republican State Senator Glenn Grothman of West Bend thinks those employees should be able to work seven days a week.
“Obviously a lot of employees wouldn’t want to do it, but if a few want to, that should be okay,” Grothman said.
Grothman says people are working seven days a week already, but at multiple jobs.
The idea was brought to Grothman by Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce.
Grothman says businesses approached that association with hopes of expanding the work week. Calls to a spokesperson were not returned.
Labor leaders, including the secretary-treasurer of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO, say this measure would roll back worker rights.
Democratic State Representative Cory Mason of Racine also opposes the idea.
“Even God took a day to rest when he made the world, and it’s not too much to ask that workers have protection,” Mason said.
Senator Grothman doesn’t think employees will be pressured to work extra.
“It only eliminates the weekend if somebody wants to work on Saturday and Sunday, which some people do,” Grothman said.
The future of the bill isn’t clear.
The Republican leaders of the Assembly and Senate haven’t commented on the bill.
Governor Scott Walker was in Ashwaubenon Monday, touring Five Point Fabrication. He’s unsure if the bill will work its way through the legislature.
Gov. Walker says he’s working to improve the workforce in other ways.
“Really, we’re trying to figure what are the things that help us hire more people and make sure that people who are looking for work have the skills needed to fill those positions,” Gov. Walker said.
The U.S. Department of Labor says as long as minimum wage and overtime pay requirements are met, a seven-day work week would be allowed.