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What Happened to the 40-Hour Workweek?

David Rosen

As 2017 winds down, it’s important to remember that this year marks the 200th anniversary for the call for a 40-hr workweek for laboring people.  The 8-hour day movement involves not only changes in the workweek, but the struggle over class power.  Turning points in this history of the workweek outline the reconfiguration of modern capitalism:

1817 – Robert Owen, a successful Welsh manufacturer, labor-rights activist and founder of the utopian community of New Harmony, believed in dividing the day into three, equal 8-hr parts — “Eight hours labor, eight hours recreation, eight hours rest.”