Along with wages and conditions, hours used to be a basic concern in worker organizing. During the heyday of the struggle over hours, in the century before World War II, the demand was always for fewer of them. The “Lowell Mill Girls” agitated for a 10-hour day, and the Haymarket strikers wanted to get down to eight. But since the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 enshrined the 40-hour week, hours have tended to be taken for granted. Time was regularized, and thus depoliticized. This is changing only because, in recent years, employers have entered a devastating new race to the bottom: Involuntary part-time is becoming the new norm for low-wage workers, together with schedules so unpredictable and varying that one can’t easily get another job, or go to school, or be a reliable parent.
Now, as a new national movement about work hours gets going, it has focused on
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