I would like to start by saying that I am a Christian. As Christians, we are called to help others through the hard times of their lives. So we must help others even at the places where they work, and especially, where low wage workers are employed. The reign of God does not stop at the workplace door. Christians must stand with workers in their struggle for dignity on the job, a voice at work, and fair compensation for their labors.
The right of workers to organize a union is a fundamental human right. Sadly our country’s laws provide little protection for workers’ rights. Laws are frequently violated, penalties are minimal, and justice is often delayed, inadequate or non existent.
We as Christians are called to stand with workers and assist in God’s vision, where all workers are treated with justice and dignity. We are called to support the standards that God is calling for, even if the laws are not there yet. Christians believe that every worker, even those receiving the lowest pay, are valued children of God, and deserve a fair share of the resources that God has provided us.
Some 60 million workers would like to form a union. There are millions of other people who know nothing about unions except the negative propaganda produced by the elite, of which most are not or never have been union members. Most people don’t realize that every 17 minutes a worker is illegally fired or disciplined for legal union activity. Most don’t realize that a National Labor Relations Board union election is more like an election in the former Soviet Union than in the United States of America.
The growing inequality and stagnant wages of the last 30 years have a number of causes, but the decline of union membership weakens the ability for the concerns of the lower and middle class to be heard. One fourth of American jobs pay poverty level wages, wages so low that a full time worker cannot support their family. One in every 6 people have no health insurance. One out of every ten people who want to work can’t find a full time job. Half of all workers have no retirement security of any kind. Wage theft by employers is epidemic, as is the abuse of immigrant workers.
Unions and workers’ rights are as important today as at any time in history. In the face of weak unenforced laws, hostile employers, an uninformed public, and a largely biased media, as a Christian it is critically important to assist my brothers and sisters, as we are all children of the same father.
Jesus was a low wage worker. Like Jesus, today’s low wage workers are beloved and treasured sons and daughters of God.
God gave us a world of abundance, enough for all, a place where all of God’s children are equal. Unions with the support of God are working to make that vision a reality.