News Release

Americans: “Vacation Starved”?

President Bush is on a month-long vacation, but many people in this country get scant time off. The following analysts are available for interviews about how Americans would benefit from more vacation time:

DEBORAH FIGART
Co-editor of the recent book Working Time, Figart is professor of economics at Richard Stockton College in New Jersey. She said today: “It’s great that the president of the United States can recoup his energy with long vacations. Now he should encourage policies so that other hard-working Americans can also have time for rest, family and other activities. An International Labor Organization study earlier this year found that the U.S. has overtaken Japan with the highest average annual hours worked — just under 2,000 hours per year. The typical vacation in Europe is four to six weeks. In the United States, you’re lucky if you get two weeks. France has a 35-hour work week by law, and limited overtime beyond that. Part of the problem is that U.S. managers are encouraged to overwork people because of the fixed costs associated with each employee: healthcare insurance, unemployment insurance, etc. Low-income people work overtime so they can pay their bills. Many people who work the most are among the one-third of Americans who are not covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act, so-called ‘white collar’ workers. Technology could be part of the solution, but it has often meant that people spend time at home writing work-related emails. While men generally are more overworked than women, that changes if you count unpaid work.”
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JOE ROBINSON
Director of the Work to Live campaign and author of a forthcoming book by the same name, Robinson said today: “We’re the most vacation-starved country in the industrialized world. By far. Small business employees, the majority of us, get an average of eight days off while Europeans and Australians receive four to six weeks paid leave. In total hours, we now work two months longer every year than Germans. Two weeks longer than the Japanese.”

GABE SINCLAIR
Author of the new utopian novel The Four Hour Day, Sinclair works as an expert machinist. He said today: “Two percent of Americans now grow all of our food and then some. Another 30 million or so do all the mining, manufacturing and construction. If this minority can produce our modern cornucopia, then the four-hour workday is within easy reach. Instead, we remain thoroughly addicted to consumerism, to violence, and to class hierarchy.”
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DAVID STRAUSS
Executive director of the Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs, Strauss said today: “Farm workers — like a lot of other workers — do not get the opportunity for paid vacation time. If the weather is bad, or they are between crops they have to work on, they do not get a dime. The typical farm worker has no vacation benefits, no health benefits, and works for at or near minimum wage.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167