Labor’s Forgotten Fight: Reclaiming Control of Our Time

Tuesday, March 30, 2021 / 6-7:30pm EST
Register for event here


More than a century and a half ago, the demand for an 8-hour day work day was a unifying call among workers and supported by labor unions. The fight to reclaim control over time resulted in the 40-hour work week and overtime pay. This hard-won gain has been chipped away at since, and today we find ourselves working longer hours, often for less pay. 

Join us as we question organized labor’s abandonment of the fight for control of time, and why since the Depression no major party has made shorter hours a political issue.

Presentations by Shirley Lung (Professor, CUNY Law) on her involvement drafting NYS Bill S359/A3145A, which would abolish the 24-hour work day for home attendants and Jamie K. McCallum (Professor, Middlebury College) on the the slow return of a long-hours economy, with a group discussion to follow. Participants are encouraged to discuss what type of demands workers should put forth that would address our declining working and living conditions and how those demands could unite us as a class so that we move away from relying on individual solutions and on advocates to push for the needs of specific sectors.

Addition questions to consider:

  • If workers want to work long hours (overtime), shouldn’t they have the right to do so?
  • Wouldn’t raising wages alone solve the problem of working long hours?
  • Why do home attendants need state legislation to prohibit 24-hour work days? Isn’t this a union contract issue?

Reading Links:

The Four-Day Work Week: But What About Ms. Coke, Ms. Upton, and Ms. Blankenship? – Shirley Lung,  Connecticut Law Review, Vol. 42, p. 1119, 2010

Overwork and Overtime –  Shirley Lung, Indiana Law Review, 2005

The Fight for Free Time Is a Feminist Issue – Ain’t I a Woman?! Campaign and Jamie K. McCallum – Jacobin 03.08.2021

Author: peterkwonglc

The Peter Kwong Immigrant Worker Learning Center strives to advance justice and meaningful change to immigrant workers, youth and veterans of justice struggles.

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