Slate contributor and labor union attorney, Paul L. Edenfield, asks the questions as to workers have the right to have Sundays off. This may be the forerunner of additional trends in this area:

The New Blue Laws
They're about giving workers a break, not forcing church attendance.
By Paul L. Edenfield
Updated Monday, April 7, 2008, at 7:39 AM ET

Do workers have a right to Sundays off?
In a recent night-shift ad, Hillary Clinton promised that she would work hard to help workers who toil after hours. Barack Obama, for his part, has issued a call for relief for people "juggling work and parenting." The candidates' concern about the demands of employment comes at a time when businesses increasingly try to stay open for most of the hours of the day, seven days a week. While keeping our shopping malls abuzz, these frenetic routines also make it harder for workers to get the weekend off to relax or spend time with their families. The ramped-up pace is due in part to the success businesses have had in attacking laws that improve workers' lives-like mandatory-closing laws, which require many stores to close on Sundays or holidays.

Mandatory-closing laws sound, yes, like another name for "blue laws," the Colonial-era restrictions in the name of morality that also closed stores on Sunday (and even banned frivolous dress). Their original purpose was to encourage church attendance. Because of this history, these laws are often still thought of as paternalistic intrusions that impose one Christian version of morality. It doesn't help that they had a brief resurgence during the teetotaling era of Prohibition, courtesy of the temperance movement. But mandatory-closing laws have since shed their old cloak and taken on a new purpose: protecting the interests of workers who otherwise could not rely on a regular, guaranteed day off.



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