Senator Bernie Sanders has introduced legislation to shorten the workweek from 40 to 32 hours without lowering pay.

He’s joined by two California lawmakers—Sen. Laphonza Butler and Rep. Mark Takano—who are fighting alongside him to disrupt a workforce tradition that dates back decades.

According to The Thirty-Two-Hour Workweek Act, fewer hours at the office would allow the working class to participate in the latest technology revolution, as rewards in fields like AI are greater compared with traditional sectors.

Base pay in AI-related professions often surpasses $100,000 for roles like engineers, researchers, and data scientists. Meanwhile, the federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, though it varies from state to state.

Sanders argues that America’s workforce is 400% more productive today than in the 1940s when the 40-hour workweek was established. But higher production has translated to longer days for less pay versus decades ago, a phenomenon he says must change.

“The financial gains from the major advancements in AI, automation and new technology must benefit the working class, not just corporate CEOs and wealthy stockholders on Wall Street. It is time to reduce the stress level in our country and allow Americans to enjoy a better quality of life,” he said.

Opponents of a shorter week suggest it would create scheduling hurdles, particularly in sectors like healthcare and childcare where workers are scarce. They also argue it would place more stress on higher-paid employees.

For Americans whose finances are in the doldrums and who can’t muster up an emergency savings fund, a shorter workweek might be the only way to tip the scales in their favor.

Low-wage employees face the biggest risks

For many Americans, especially those who earn lower incomes, technological innovation has served more as a threat than an opportunity.

As a recent McKinsey report revels, AI and automation are poised to replace thousands of jobs in low-wage sectors like customer service and food services by 2030.

Meanwhile, in areas like science, technology, engineering, mathematics, legal, and business professions, tech changes the way people approach work. But there’s less of a threat of those individuals becoming antiquated.

Kweilin Ellingrud, director of the McKinsey Global Institute, says employees earning under $38,000 annually are the most likely to see their jobs disappear because of generative AI, a more advanced form of artificial intelligence.

“We will have more jobs in the future, and those jobs will be higher wage jobs, but they will require higher levels of education,” she said.

These are the workers that Sen. Sanders’ bill seeks to help, by giving them time to learn the skills needed to participate in more rewarding sectors of the economy.

While a 32-hour work-week would help average Americans secure a better work-life balance, the benefits they receive from AI will likely amount to peanuts compared to the total economic value it creates.

A widening wealth gap

If history is any indication, the economic benefit of AI—much like any other technological evolution—will be largely skewed toward bigger corporations.

In fact, the biggest beneficiaries of AI so far have been Big Tech companies bankrolling the innovation—including the stocks of software pioneer Microsoft, search giant Google, and chipmaker Nvidia, not to mention fortuitous shareholders who have gone along for the ride.

Microsoft and Google stocks have each advanced by roughly 50% in the last 12 months while chipmaker Nvidia’s stock is up nearly threefold in the period. But low-income households are unlikely to share in any of those profits.

Over the past four decades, there has been a stark correlation between technological innovation and income inequality in the U.S.

Since 1980, at least half of falling wages were correlated to declining pay among blue-collar workers whose jobs were eliminated or affected in some way by tech automation, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research.

This trend has been exacerbated by the rise of AI, with the pay advantage going to white-collar employees with college degrees while compensation for “low education workers” falls, the study reveals.

“The real earnings of men without a high-school degree are now 15% lower than they were in 1980,” the study states.