Should Christians join a union?

By Roscoe Dechalus

There is a lot to consider regarding the labor unions. In some cases, they are essential for employee welfare. But the fees they collect do not always go to support biblical organizations.

Most unions do not take a biblical worldview when using the union fees. The money goes to many ungodly situations like abortion, same sex-teachings, political candidates whose voting record is anti-Christian, and other causes Christians wouldn't support.

For example, the largest labor union in the United States is the National Education Association (NEA). Many Christian teachers are strongly opposed to the policies of the NEA supporting: abortion on demand, special protections for homosexual teachers despite contrary state law, the distribution of information to young girls promoting lesbianism, counseling services provided to those children who are struggling with their sexual/gender orientation, stringent regulation of parents who home school, complete elimination of religious practices in public schools, teacher strikes, the elimination of involuntary AIDS/HIV testing of school employees, school-based family planning clinics, litigation designed to eliminate tuition tax credits or tuition vouchers for parents.

In the USA you can request to opt out of being in the union by writing a letter or quit a union and still keep your job, although you may still have to pay nonmember fees, and you'll have to make your wishes known regarding what those fees pay for. Unions take the position that members "voluntarily" support their political choices. On the other hand, unions recognize that nonmembers who object to having their union fees donated to political causes or candidates have a clear legal right to keep the union from getting that money. All the nonmember employee has to do is write a simple letter to the union saying, "I object to the use of my union fees for politics. I do not want any of my money going to political or ideological activity. However, I understand that my fees can be used for collective bargaining activities." That is all it takes to stop the union from legally using your money for politics.

Christian employees who want to stay in a union but, because of their sincere religious beliefs, want to designate what causes their money supports are entitled to ask the union to accommodate their beliefs by allowing all their union fees to be paid to charity. This requires a more detailed letter to the union outlining the nature of the employee's religious beliefs.

Finally, many employees are not required to pay any money to the union once they resign their membership. In the 21 Right to Work states (USA), all employees (except in the Railway and Airline industry) are entitled to resign from the union and pay nothing. In all 50 states of America, employees are allowed to resign and pay nothing unless their employer has entered into a contract with the union requiring all employees to join the union or pay nonmember union fees. Only if such a contract exists is the employee required to pay any fees.

Another thing to consider: some Christians go further and find the whole concept of supporting a union contrary to their understanding of New Testament teachings. Unions typically use strong tactics, often including violent strikes, to force employers to concede to their demands. Three of the giants of the New Testament, John the Baptist, Paul, and Peter, cast serious doubt on whether a Christian should be a part of this kind of organization. John the Baptist, in Luke 3:14, counseled believers to be content with their wages. Paul, in Colossians 3:22-24, told believers to work for their master as if they were working for the Lord. Peter, in 1 Peter 2:18-24, counseled Christians to suffer indignity at the hands of masters rather than retaliate. A Christian who understands that working for the employer is like working for the Lord will view most union tactics with grave concern. Since believers are warned by Paul in 2 Corinthians 6:14-17 against being "yoked together" with those who do not accept Biblical teaching, many find it impossible to join or financially support a labor union.

However, unions can also be as good thing if a person is working for a bad company that forces bad policies or rules on its worker. Many people don't realize that every 17 minutes a worker is illegally fired or disciplined for union activity. Many people don't know that a National Labor Relations Board-sponsored union election is more like an election in the former Soviet Union than one in the U.S. They don't know that unions brought us the weekend, and also Workers' Compensation Insurance, Unemployment Insurance, the minimum wage, health and safety regulations, Social Security, and many other important social programs.

Unions also brought us the middle class. Unions raise wages and improve benefits, especially for workers in the bottom and middle of the wage scale. Unions narrow the historic wage gaps associated with race, sex, and ethnicity. A labor union can help a person get religious days off like Sundays.

So in considering whether to join, a Christian has to count the cost. Can they be salt and a light in this environment? Can the Christian opt out of the union and still be salt and a light in the work environment? What are the union rules in your country? Will you lose your job if you opt out etc.

Christians could be an influence by saying, "Let's use our union as much as we can to be helpful to employers, to show them what would be right and good." But if the time comes when a genuine injustice is being answered by a group strike, then the Christian has to make the call as to whether this is the moment when justice demands that kind of witness, or whether there is way too much ego, pride, and greed driving the union and he/she shouldn't be a part of it.

God gave us a world of abundance, enough for all, a place where all God's children are equal. Unions, with the support of the Church, can make that vision a reality if they follow the biblical worldview.

Should a Christian join a labor union? It depends. Pray and seek the Lord for His guidance in the matter. It is the best place to start.

TagsBiblical-Truth  | Christian-Life  | Controversial-Issues

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Published 4-19-17