Discussing
Why unions still matter

Ray Pennings

Peter
March 28, 2011

1 Peter 2:18-20:<br><br>"Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. "<br><br>

Jamesggilmore
March 28, 2011

Wow. A Bible verse presented with no context and no commentary, implicitly suggesting that God wants workers to do nothing more than know their place and gratefully accept whatever crumbs fall from the table of the ownership class. But of course, you have to offer the verse without context or commentary. <br><br>Taking the verse out of context enables you to ignore the entire tradition of the Old Testament Prophets, who made it clear that one of God's chief charges against Israel was that the ownership class there exploited the workers, and the multiple other times throughout the Old and New Testaments where God makes it clear that God will not abide the continual exploitation of the poor, the worker, the foreigner, the widow or orphan, where God makes it clear that God's Kingdom is not one of economic exploitation but one of forgiven debts and redistributed land so that the wealth belongs to all the people.<br><br>Not adding commentary enables you to elide the rather revolting conclusions to which you're coming, conclusions that most of us would reject immediately as completely out of line with the completely Biblical notion that every human being deserves respect and that a fair day's work deserves a fair day's pay. It also enables you to elide any of those inconvenient questions about which side <i>you personally</i> are on—are you one of the workers, or are you one of the owners? Are you publishing this because it serves your personal economic interest to have a docile working class that won't ever rise up to question or challenge the continual abuses and oppression of the ownership class? No commentary means you can avoid the whole question.<br><br>So, um, well done...?

Xioc1138
March 28, 2011

Any organization can do good things, if it seeks Godly values. The trouble is, most organizations that I'm aware of are run by humans. :)<br><br>Employers need to know the needs and wants of their employees. Employees need to know the needs and wants of their employers. Both are prone to taking advantage of the other and doing and promoting evil things (greed, etc). <br><br>I've been a member of the Teamsters. I walked away from them with a poor taste in my mouth. What a greedy bunch. I've also held management positions for a number of companies. They can be greedy too.<br><br>My preference is to not be a member of a union as I have yet to find a union that actually reflects my beliefs that should exist between an employee and an employer. <br><br>However, I've heard from individuals that I respect who have had great experiences with their union. <br><br>So what is the right answer? I don't really think there is one outside of the fact that both parties, unionized, incorporated, or whatever need to do their best to communicate and respect the other party.

solid4JC
March 28, 2011

Well said James. The Tolpuddle martyrs would be proud of you ! So would The Apostle James, see James 5 : 1 - 6.

JCarpenter
March 29, 2011

And are we comfortable applying cultural norms of 1st century Roman Empire to today's society? For one, though I may take the attitude of a servant, I don't look upon my work or any other's work situation as that of servants working for a master, but (ideally) that of respectful equals providing each other with service, with mutually agreeable terms, with mutual beneficial outcomes.<br>Well-said, indeed jgg.

JCarpenter
March 29, 2011

Labor unions, like all good human institutions, may have been created with good and righteous intent, serving an important purpose, yet like all things human, have the flaw called "sinful human nature" which allows for abuse, corruption, etc. Reformation is the answer, not abolishment of unions---unless the alternative can be guaranteed: a just and merciful and prosperous society with opportunity afforded to all, with encouragement and right reward for one's labor.

JCarpenter
March 29, 2011

Just read the story of the Tolpuddle (what a name!) martyrs---thanks for the reference to a little-known piece of history, unknown in the States at least.

Edgar Alberro
May 12, 2016

The verse about masters and servants has been used historically to exonerate slavery and indentured servitude. A good workplace where profits are balanced with workers interests don't need unions. But most are not for workers so unions are necessary.

GRam
November 18, 2016

Thanks for this very good article. I am a Christian and I'm a member of a close-shop union in my workplace. We are staging a strike against our employer who violates our Collective bargaining agreement. In this case, I guess I'm on the right track inasmuch as legality and fighting for justice is concerned. This article is a reminder of those trapped in companies with labor unions to think critically what they are fighting for. Unions that address issues on transparency and equitable benefits would be fine.

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