VACATION TIME….It’s summer, which must be why vacation talk is in the air in the blogosphere. Over at TPMCafe, French journalist Pascal Riche informs us today that he gets 10 weeks of vacation a year and then explains how this state of affairs came about:
When the French government, in 1981, decided to reduce the legal work week from 40 hours to 39 hours, our unions bargained for one more week of vacation instead. Following the same rationale, we got 3 more weeks when France passed five years ago from ?les 39 heures? to ?les 35 heures?…
Do you notice the key phrase here? It’s “our unions bargained for….” Isn’t it a shame that American unions are so weak?
But here’s a question for the comment section. One of Riche’s sources of wonderment is that increased leisure time has never been a big issue in American politics. “During the last American electoral campaign,” he says, “not a single candidate considered proposing a mandatory two- or three- week vacation time in America.”
Frankly, in a country where proposing a dollar increase in the minimum wage is considered a brave act of liberalism, this doesn’t surprise me at all. But here’s my question: could Congress legally mandate increased vacation time for private sector employees? In other words, is leisure time not an issue because no one is willing to take on the corporate interest groups who oppose it, or is it not an issue because candidates know that mandating vacation time would be unconstitutional anyway?
(There’s a third option, of course: it’s not an issue because voters don’t care much. I have a hard time believing that, though.)
Does anyone know?