Christians and labour unions.

Discussion in '2003 Archive' started by Ingo Breuer, May 12, 2003.

  1. Ingo Breuer

    Ingo Breuer
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    Is it right for Christians to join labour unions? I would like to know more about that because some Christians are very split on that issue.
    On the one hand unions try to help the working poor and bring about some justice for them, defend the rights of the working people (e.g. the effort against the 'Real Berverly Hillbillies). Some of their efforts really comply with James 5:1-6 where it talks about the hire of labourers kept back by fraud crying out. We saw a good example at American Airlines where the management pressured employees into "voluntary" pay-cuts threatening with bankruptcy, but upper management rewarded itself with extra-bonuses. This very unchristian injustice was exposed by the unions and the corrupt management was held accountable immediately.
    But on the other hand labour unions have their problems with being involved in liberal causes. Many are pro-abortion, pro-feminist, and some unions (such as Teamsters) have Mafia and Catholic connections. No true servant of the living God wants to be entangled in this kind of corruption.
    What do you think? Would you join a union? Does the Bible speak clear on that issue?
     
  2. latterrain77

    latterrain77
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    Hi Ingo. I think unions can be fantastic - or - they can be horrible. It depends on the nature of the union. If the sole purpose of the union is the goal of protecting the dignity of the laborer against an arrogant and haughty management class, then it is a FANTASTIC thing.

    However, if the union becomes a tool of oppression, in a manner similar to a management system gone amuck, then the union has lost it's mission.

    For accuracy sake, it should be noted that the entrepreneur is also a laborer! He is NOT a product of the "management system" but a victim of it like every other laborer. Management is NOT entrepreneurial.

    The Bible is replete with examples of LABORER rights. The righteous "Employer" is a blessing to Society, and it is a PRIVILEGE for any Employer to hire an Employee (Matt. 20: 1-16). It is no burden but a GIFT to have the power to employ.

    Apostle Paul pleading for the rights of Onesimus in the book Philemon might be an example of someone arguing for the rights of the laborer.

    Unfortunately, we are living in an era where unbalanced scales operate within the corporate structure (Proverbs 20: 10). The "management" system is sick; where laborers are laid off in droves by managements who then proceed to vote themselves a raise! The sheer magnitude of such arrogance is nearly overwhelming. It is an unbalanced scale (Proverbs 20: 23, Micah 6: 11). Unions had an opportunity to stem this awful trend but have failed to a large degree as many union leaders (and some of it's own membership) became drunk with the same power that infects many in management. latterrain77
     
  3. I Am Blessed 24

    I Am Blessed 24
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    For the most part, I am for Unions. There are many places where you cannot work unless you agree to join the 'union' such as factories etc.

    The Union used to be very good at fighting grievances against management, but I see them becoming more ineffective everyday.

    My husband works at a plant where belonging to the union is mandatory. They take union dues out of his paycheck every month. He has been there many years and I have yet to see any positive action from them.

    I believe they have gone over to the management side. However, if you want a job, you support them.

    JMHO,
    Sue
     
  4. Ben W

    Ben W
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    Originally they were an exceleent idea and in Australia they were always slightly on the left of the political centrist vote.

    Yet in recent years some unions have gone as far as to pledge allegiance to the Greens Party which is extreme left. So I would be very carefull about this as the left can promote a very humanist agenda.

    Yet workers need protection and someone to stand up for their rights. So you need to be very careful about which union it is that you join.
     
  5. Johnv

    Johnv
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    Labor unions are generally formed to represent workers. I don't see why joining a union would have any bering on one's religious affiliation.
     
  6. Major B

    Major B
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    I think the only way that unionism could conflict with faith would be one of these:
    1. A union official asked a union member to do something dishonest--I have seen it happen.
    2. The union took dues and used them for political purposes that the member found to be immoral.

    My father was an officer of the United Mine Workers, and for sure in his day, the unions were needed. However, having dealt with modern unions from the company side, here are my feelings:

    If I owned a fabulous factory and was making money hand over fist, and the employees voted on Thursday night to go union, they would arrive at work the next day to find a padlocked gate and a "for sale" sign.
     
  7. Ingo Breuer

    Ingo Breuer
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    I know what you are talking about. The general manager at our plant comes from a business that went out of business due to all the hampering and bickering of a unionized operation.

    The only thing where a union would intervene at our plant is the so-called "no-fault"-attendance policy. That policy gives you one point for every attendance violation (clock in too late, out too early). A no-call-no-show is 4 points. 6 points will send you home for 3 days. 7 points will send you home for good. Ever since that policy went into effect, there is a constant coming and going.

    The only "mercy" the system knows is an "act of nature". If you're snowed in and you tell you team leader you're snowed in, then that point will be erased. But if your kid gets sick at school and you have to go pick him up and take him to the doctor, then you get a point. I don't have children, but there are employees who just had to leave work for an impotant issue such as this, and they were subsequently punished for caring for their family. That has caused great frustration, but management says we're a 24/7 operation and the machines gotta run.
     
  8. Ben W

    Ben W
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    That does not seem particurly fair. Can you complain to a government body?
     
  9. Ingo Breuer

    Ingo Breuer
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    There is a Family Medical Leave Act here in the US which is a law that says your employer must let you go if there is a family member sick. I need to get the details of it to see how it applies to this situation or not.
     
  10. Artimaeus

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    My Grandfather was a UMW officer, too, and worked with John L. Lewis personally. He carried a gun and was arrested for his union activities. The company "owned" the police. This was in the beginning of the UMW when conditions in the mines were very poor. $1.25 a day (in script) and all of that was returned to the company via the company store and rent. The union was a very good thing for people in those days. Now move forward a few decades and you have a union that would go out on strike because a supervisor tried to make a union worker wear his safety goggles when he didn't want to and "boom" a thousand men are out of work for weeks. The union had become a very bad thing. I don't think "union" is good or bad it is "how" it is run which will determine whether or not a Christian should be a part of it.
     
  11. Major B

    Major B
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    Artimaeus--

    My dad was a union leader too, he met John L once, and carred a piece--a .45 auto. However, he never got arrested, because he belonged to an organization that was stronger than the company, the police, or the union--the Masons.

    When he started out, he also got paid in scrip--they called them "flickers" in Western Kentucky--but he had an advantage because he owned his own little two-room shack on family land.
     
  12. Artimaeus

    Artimaeus
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    Major B., that brings back memories. My grandfather became a Mason at some point, maybe that was why. I think he carried a .38. As a matter of fact I live in a house that used to be a "company house". At one time it was a four room house and two families lived in it. Each family had two rooms (sort of like a duplex). There was an expression when someone asked you what your living arrangements were you told them you had "two rooms and a path" (to the shared outhouse). This was the way of life until sometime in the '40s when the "company" sold out and everything was converted to private ownership.
     

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