and the Rejection
Years ago May Day (May 1) was a time when labor unions displayed
their strength. With
the rise of the Soviet Union and their decision to accept
May 1 as part of their celebrations, American devotion
to May Day waned. Labor
unions want to revive May Day again. They hope for massive
demonstrations and a show of solidarity.
One report says: “May Day protests may disrupt the morning
commute in major U.S. cities Tuesday as labor, immigration
and Occupy activists rally support on the international
workers’ holiday” (usnews.msnbc.msn.com /_news/2012/04/30/ 11475277-occupy-may
-day-protests-could -block-roads-shut -down-ferry- service?lite/).
The same report
speaks of disruptions in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Oakland,
Seattle, and New York. Leaders
seek “creative disruptions against the corporations who
rule our city.” They want protestors to block bridges in
Manhattan. This is just a sampling of the public disturbances
that union members seek to do. When
membership was much higher, strikes could paralyze a company
or a city. Extensive violence could be perpetrated.
While we cannot deny that certain financial and working benefits
were achieved by labor unions over the years (including
the 8-hour day, pensions, job security, etc.), the Christian
doesn’t make his decisions based on what pragmatically
works, but on what is ethical, moral, and Scriptural.
Over the years, union membership has dramatically decreased. One
The changing conditions of the 1980s and
1990s undermined the position of organized labor, which
now represented a shrinking share of the work force. While
more than one-third of employed people belonged to unions
in 1945, union membership fell to 24.1 percent of the U.S.
work force in 1979 and to 13.9 percent in 1998. (economics.about.
Another report speaks of union membership in the United
States declining while membership in certain other countries
remains somewhat high:
2010, the percentage of workers belonging to a union in
the United States (or total labor union "density")
was 11.4%, compared to 18.6% in Germany, 27.5% in Canada,
and 70% in Finland. Union
membership in the private sector has fallen under 7%  — levels
not seen since 1932. Unions and many observers allege that
employer-incited opposition has contributed to this decline
in membership. The most prominent unions are among public
sector employees such as teachers and police. Members of
unions are more likely than non-members to be older, male
and live in states such as New York, Hawaii, Michigan,
Alaska, New Jersey, and Washington. Union workers average
10-30% higher pay than non-union in America after controlling
for individual, job, and labor market characteristics. (en.wikipedia.
org/wiki/Labor_ unions_in_the _United_States).
Interestingly, labor unions generally contribute to and support
democrat candidates rather than republican ones. This is
the case even though democrates often have more liberal
and immoral stands on issues such as abortion (killing
of the unborn), sodomy (homosexual activity), and other
We do not intend to analyze labor unions
in a detailed way
intention and ability just now. We
simply note that union membership in America has fallen
to only 11% after it was much higher in past generations.
As followers of the Lord Jesus, we assume that membership in
labor unions would be wrong and sinful for various reasons.
Consider a few of them.
First, the Christian
refuses to be united with unbelievers in such a close
relationship as unionism requires.
urges believers, “Do not be bound together with unbelievers;
for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness,
or what fellowship has light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians
Second, unionism demands that
the “rights” of the worker be honored.
roles are actually reversed from what God would want. Paul
speaks of the slave-master relationship: “Slaves, be
obedient to those who are your masters according to the
flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of your
heart, as to Christ; not by way of eyeservice, as men-pleasers,
but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the
heart” (Ephesians 6:5-6; cf. vv. 7-8; Colossians 3:22-24;
1 Peter 2:18-20). The Christian is willing to submit
to his employer—even “unreasonable” ones (1 Peter 2:18)—instead
of the employee requiring the employer to submit to his
(the worker’s) demands.
Third, much that the
labor union does is dependent on force and even violence.
union seeks to force the employer to give certain wages or provide certain benefits. This
is coercion, something that reveals a rebellious and
insubordinate attitude. Think
of the extreme rebelliousness that picketing a company
reveals! This becomes extreme when pickets refuse legitimate
workers to gain access to the company and continue
working! The Christian is to have all respect (1 Peter
is to be “well-pleasing, not argumentative” and submissive “in
everything” (Titus 2:9-10). This definitely doesn’t
describe union tactics!
Fourth, the members of
labor unions threaten to strike against a given company.
This reveals a rebellious, disobedient, and insubmissive
this is the extent to which the labor union will go and
it can have devastating effects on the continuance of
certain companies. In extreme cases, it can put a company
out of business. Currently, employees of our local American
Airlines and Lockheed Martin are rebelling against their
employers. Would striking reveal a submissive, yielding,
and nonresistant attitude? The Christian’s submissiveness
to masters (or employers) is intended to “adorn the doctrine
of God our Savior in every respect” (Titus 2:10).
Fifth, unionism is fed
with the sin of greed. Covetousness means “to want
more” and it militates against the virtue of contentment. Labor
unions manifest greed and stimulate it. Paul
commands, “. . . Greed must not even be named among you,
as is proper among saints” (Ephesians 5:3b). He goes
on to say that we know “with certainty” that the “covetous” [greedy]
man, “who is an idolater,” has no “inheritance in the
kingdom of Christ and God” (v. 5). He then says, “. .
. Because of these things the wrath of God comes upon
the sons of disobedience” (v. 6; Colossians 3:5-7). Whether
it be promoting higher wages, longer vacations, higher
pensions, or more benefits, we see greed as the motivation.
Sixth, labor unionism
feeds a corrupt and evil system. Many stories
could be told of how the union leadership has been involved
in wicked tactics, secret deals, and perverse dealings
with others. Paul
declares, “Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds
of darkness, but instead even expose them” (Ephesians
a member pays his “union dues,” he is helping to support
and promote this kind of evil system.
Seventh, some justify
membership in labor unions on the basis of the “good” that
they claim to do for the workers. This
is an argument based on pragmatism. Supposedly,
because it “works,” this would justify involvement and
support in the union’s tactics. The Christian doesn’t
look at issues in this way. He asks whether something
is right and does it—regardless
of whether it has a desired effect. We
are never justified in doing wrong with
the purpose of having a good outcome. Paul
was wrongly accused of teaching, “Let us do evil that
good may come.” He responded, “Their condemnation is
just!” (Romans 3:8). Those who would espouse this kind
of pragmatic argument must be condemned since there is
no consideration on what pleases God—but only on what
appears to have a good effect.
Eighth, it may be that
labor unionism is guilty of dishonesty. I wonder how
often union leaders reveal to prospective employees that
they are not required to sign up for union membership? Hopefully,
this is openly revealed consistently, but I fear that
it isn’t. In reality, the government has ruled that if
one has Christian convictions against membership, he
or she cannot be required to join the union.
Ninth, being a union
member requires one to support a system that violates
a wide range of evil attitudes and practices and the
deeds of the flesh that will keep one from the kingdom
of God (Galatians 5:19-21). Paul instructs us, “Whatever
is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever
is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute,
if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of
praise, dwell on these things” (Philippians 4:8). Would
you say that unionism is “true” and “honorable”? Is
it “right” or “pure”? Is
it really “lovely” or of “good repute”?
Tenth, unionism involves
many of the “deeds of the flesh” that keep one from the
kingdom of God. Think
of idolatry, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, disputes,
and dissensions (Galatians 5:19-21). Think
of greed, evil, envy, strife, deceit, malice, gossiping,
slandering, insolence, arrogance, boastfulness, lack
of love, and other sins (Romans 1:29-32). The Christian
will want to run from all involvement in sins like this!
These are a few of the reasons that would cause the follower
of Jesus Christ to refuse membership in a labor union. Perhaps
you can think of other reasons. This
is one reason why we rejoice that membership has dropped
to only 11% of the workforce. Sadly,
one of the sources we noted earlier says that police officers
and teachers are leading union members in the public sector
When I was a young wage earner, I worked at a textile plant
as a cutter. Things
went well for a year or two—and then certain employee agitators
instigated an effort to bring in a labor union. In time,
the employees voted on whether they wanted or didn’t want
to be represented by a union. The majority voted for membership. When
I revealed that I couldn’t join a union, I was given 30
days to comply. When I continued to refuse to join, I lost
my job. (At
that time, I didn’t know that “Christian” convictions would
have allowed me to refuse membership.) I learned first-hand
the evils of this system as well as the need to take a
stand even when it will cost one financially. Jesus
tells us that we must take up our cross in order to follow
Him as a true disciples (Mark 8:34).
Will you take a stand on this matter of labor unions? Will
you choose to follow Jesus even when it may require hardship
and suffering? This
is a sign of being a true disciple of the Lord.
[You may wish to check out the “war” category in the Biblical
Subjects section of this website. Some
of the articles there are relevant to the present issue