As Opponents of Of Ohio Bill 5 Start Gathering Signatures For Petitions Against the Bill, I thought I’d post some thoughts on Chrisitianity and Unions:
The Bible instills personal individual responsibility. The Bible talks of working hard and striving to succeed. The Bible teaches of treating people with respect and love. The Bible teaches treating all humans equally but and helping the needy, poor and widowed. The Bible does not teach socialism nor capitalism. Of course though, Scriptures can and have been twisted out of context to support both ideals. We should serve our employer as if we are serving Christ, in a union or not. That means putting in the work we are hired to do. Not taking off during working hours to cheat our employer. Our hard worker is a representation of our integrity and character in Christ. We work for Christ as Christians.
The question is, “What pleases God in the realm of labor?” Pleasing God is far more precious to the Christian workingman than job, job-security, good wages, comfortable working conditions, and big pensions. Pleasing God is far more precious to the faithful church than the approval of men. The Bible is silent on the exact questions, “Are labor unions bad?” and “Can a Christian join a labor union?”
It is easy to get catch in the extremely fundamental position saying that labor union contributes to and promotes the swelling tide of corruption in our country and that union labors are the associations of rebellion, (which Christian shouldn’t encourage). It is true that in Scripture : God has ordered, or structured, that basic sphere of human life known as labor in such a way that the owner of the farm or business has authority from God to govern. He certainly has a calling from God toward the workers, a calling to give the workers “that which is just and equal,” or “fair” (Col. 4:1). But he has authority, God’s own authority, and the duty of the worker is to submit and obey.
But I have been a member of a union and I tend to think that The Lord knows the heart of each person. And if a Christian does not want to be a union member he/she does not have to work for a company with unions, nor is he/she required to join the union even if he/she choices to work with in a company with a union.
Fundamentalists need to realize that unions are not all bad though:
A divine attribute that the Bible emphasizes is fair judgment. Ezekiel 18 and Acts 10: 34-35 are just two of many instances where God’s fair and just quality is highlighted. As God’s followers we are called to imitate Him. This is why God commands the Israelites to exercise fair judgment through Moses in Deuteronomy 1: 16-17 and why impartiality is stressed in Proverb 24: 23. We often fail at applying this wise lesson on topics that have populist, politically correct positions and politically incorrect, unpopular positions.
There is no denying the value of labor unions. Labor unions once represented over one-third of American workers fifty years ago. Today, only 7.4% of private sector workers are unionized. The inverse relationship between declining labor union presence and skyrocketing salaries of CEOs suggests that unions are important checks against executive overpay. Unions also deal with corporate management on behalf of their workers in order to attain the best possible wages for union members. Both of these purposes serve the union’s general mission to do what is best for union members.
Obviously though, when unions short-sightedly focus on their mission without considering the bigger picture of the company’s health, they can become detrimental to the company. They forget that since the company employs union members, the company’s well-being is, in effect, what is best for the workers in the long run whether or not that means that an increase in wages is a realistic demand for the immediate future.
1 Timothy 6:1 Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed.