Weekend Work: Wisconsin State Sen. Calls Weekly Day Off ‘Goofy’

The weekend was made for — working? That’s what Republican Wisconsin State Senator Glenn Grothman believes. Telling The Huffington Post that he considers a state law guaranteeing workers one day off per week to be “goofy,” Grothman is pushing legislation to bring back the 7-day work week.

Grothman has a history of trying to take away days off for workers. In 2011, he said that public employees should not be allowed to take off the Martin Luther King birthday holiday.

Grothman says that his legislation, which also has a Republican sponsor in the state assembly, would give workers the “option” of working straight through the weekend, with no time off. Currently, Wisconsin labor laws guarantee workers one full day off per week, usually on a weekend.

However under the current law, workers may work as many as 12 days in a row as long as they have days off on both sides of the 12-day period.

“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 told The Huffington Post.

The 58-year-old Grothman justified his new weekend work legislation on the grounds of his own college experience. He said that at that point in his life, he wanted the option to work through the weekend with no break because it meant collecting overtime.

“A lot of times, you may have a factory that wants to run more shifts or want to work overtime and is short of people,” Grothman said. “The employee wants to work, and the employer wants them to work, why shouldn’t they be able to work?”

Sounds logical, right? Except that the record shows that employers, when given the chance to take advantage of employees, will very often do so, the Think Progress web site says. If Grothman’s law passes, employers could be expected to pressure their employees to work through the weekend, whether they want to or not.

“The power usually lies with employers and instances of them abusing labor laws are already on the rise,” Think Progress writer Bryce Covert reported Sunday. “Actions filed in federal court alleging wage and hour violations increased by 400 percent between 2000 and 2011.”

Vce President of the Economic Policy Institute, Ross Eisenbrey, says that the line between “voluntary” and “forced” in employment situations can be a fuzzy one.

“If the employer puts pressure on people and lets them know they will be unhappy if workers exercise their right to have a day off,” Eisenbery said, “that might be enough so that no worker ever does anything but volunteer to work seven days a week.”

Before he came up with his weekend work legislation, Grothman in March of 2013 sponsored a bill that would prevent cities and towns from requiring employers to give their workers paid sick days.