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Principled People and Unions

By Dr. Don Boys
© 1997 Cornerstone Communications

You own a small gas station that employs five people, all members of your community. You borrowed on your life insurance and mortgaged your house to purchase equipment, supplies and gasoline. You also had to pay a franchise fee to one of the major oil companies. Your wife works at a local office to help supplement the family income because it is likely that there will be no profit for over a year.

You are paying your employees what you can afford and what they agreed to accept. You plan to pay them more when it is possible. Maybe even some benefits such as health insurance in the future.

Those employees approach you one day and demand a raise in wages, but you don't have the money to raise wages. You are struggling to pay what you are now paying, and where did these employees get the idea that they can demand anything of you? They got that from federal law passed in 1935, and we should dig up the bones of the congressmen who voted for it and kick them all over Dee Cee.

Question: Do those employees have a moral right to tell you how to run your business? What risk have they taken? Their homes are not mortgaged. They didn't borrow on their life insurance to put you in business. If your business fails, you lose everything; they simply move on to another job. What sane person would suggest that they have a right to force you to do anything?

Those employees can quit anytime they want and you can fire them anytime you want! But wait, that's unfair to the workers, we are told. Wait a minute, if they have a right to quit, then you have a right to fire. The coin has two sides, but the jerks on the National Labor Relations Board and U.S. Congressmen say otherwise.

You discover that your employees got organized and want to be represented by the Local Gas Pumpers Union and their spokesman, I. M. Thug informs you that you have to sign a contract with them or your employees will strike! You tell him to push off. The business is yours. A week later, you get a letter from the NLRB giving you 30 days to allow your workers to discuss and vote for union representation. You refuse and the clock starts running on daily federal fines and in 30 days your employees are picketing your gas station. They carry signs that call you "heartless," "slave laborer," "capitalist pig," etc.

Well, since you can't operate by yourself, you call some men looking for work and replace the strikers. Your former workers call you "union breaker," and your workers "scabs." You have done the right, reasonable thing. How could anyone think otherwise?

"You mean a person should not honor a picket line and cross over to go to work or to patronize a business being struck?" Yea, that's what I'm saying. In a heartbeat. "But that might break a union." Too bad. That's life and better than breaking an honest businessman.

It is amazing that any principled people, not even considering themselves Christians, would consider using coercion against the person who has hired them and is paying them the wages as was agreed on, but it happens all the time. Coersion is brute force.

If you can't get a raise from your employer because of your value to him, you can quit and get more and better skills to procure a better job. Or better yet, start a competing business and do such a superior job that the free market will put him out of business in a legitimate, legal way. "All right, but what if it is a huge corporation making millions of dollars profit each year?" The principle is the same: you don't have the right to force your boss to do anything. "But workers have a right to decent wages." Oh, do they? Where is that in the Consitution? Note that you did not say "fair" but decent. What is a decent wage? Who decides, the employer or the employee?

"But workers have a right to share in the profits of a company?" Well, did they share in the risks? Suppose they do share in the profits one year but the following year, the profits are very small, will the workers accept a smaller wage? And what happens when there is a very bad year when the company loses money, will the workers give back part of their earlier earnings? Why not? Businesses are willing to take enormous risks for the possibility of making enormous profits–risks that individuals are not able or willing to take.

"But we are underpaid for the work we do." But that could not be true if there are plenty of workers willing to take your job. Evidently you are being paid what the market dictates. If you were really underpaid, then the business would not be able to find workers.

If a business is forced to pay higher salaries than are dictated by the free market, then it will result in fewer employees, lower profits and higher prices. (What many people want is week's pay for a day's work.) No, I would never join a union, and if I did, I surely would never strike.

The recent UPS strike is a good example. UPS is known throughout the nation as a great place to work: excellent salaries, even for part-time workers (who make more than the average full-time American worker!), good working conditions and great benefits. But the union boss decided he would flex his muscles (to affirm his leadership against another would-be union president) and forced the men to strike.

The strike cost UPS more than $600 million dollars, over half of their billion dollar profit for last year. You talk of fairness, but what about fairness to the stockholders who lost all that money? They risked their money when they purchased UPS stock, and they expected a good return on their investment. Many of the investors were widows and orphans. What about fairness to them?

In fact, some UPS striking employees even convinced their former customers to not accept UPS packages delivered by non-union workers or management. Wait a minute. UPS is supposed to forget that their well-paid workers (now strikers) were destroying their business. They are supposed to take them back as if nothing has happened. They are to forget the violence on the picket lines and the slurs and curses aimed in their direction. Not me. I would have given the workers 24-hours to get back to work or they would never drive a brown truck again. And I would stand by my decision until shrimp learn to whistle and pigs learn to fly. (Of course, federal thugs would put me out of business.)

And to even think that Christian men would be involved in such actions only shows the shallowness of most Christian men. It also speaks to the failure of many pastors in giving Scriptural direction in every-day matters of life. In Matt 20, Jesus told a parable that is germane to this matter. A man went out to hire laborers for his vineyard and hired a few for a certain sum. They went to work. Later, the man saw some other men loafing and hired them to work. The agreement with the late workers was, "whatsoever is right, I will give you." They joined the first group in the field. This happened throughout the day. At the end of the day, all the workers lined up to receive their wages, and all were paid the same amount. The first group of workers, who were paid exactly what was agreed on, began to whine about fairness. They "supposed" that they would receive more money since they had worked more hours. The boss said, "Friend, I do thee no wrong; didst not thou agree with me...?" He was saying that he had kept his part of the agreement, and what he paid others was of no concern to the first workers. He further asked, "Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own?" Well, maybe he could pay what was agreed to, living under the heel of Rome, but not under the heel of oppressive union dictatorship and U.S. government regulations.

It is so difficult to be principled when money is involved, isn't it? If I am willing to work for a small wage and you choose to hire me, it is no union's business nor the business of the state or federal government if I do so. And if the unions are as wonderful as we are told, then it will be no problem getting members. That is similar to what Samuel Gompers, the father of organized labor in America said: "Nobody should be forced to join a union. If the union serves its members honestly and fairly its members will come to it voluntarily." But in non right to work states (mainly the northern states), the workers are forced to join the union or pay dues to it.

Obviously, unions are not attracting new members since only about 10% of the private sector workers belong to a union. Union bosses have seen their power base eroding away and their coffers depleted and they are trying to hang on to power by any means possible. Union bosses are wondering why principled people are eschewing union membership and I can tell them why without a million-dollar study:

Thinking tax-payers are weary of union bosses who think they are above the law. We are sick of seeing union violence such as independent truckers having their trucks driven off the road and the cargo dumped on the ground. We are weary of broken windows, slashed tires and union goons who run in packs like jackals. They are easy to identify since they have a streak of yellow up their backs and a snarl on their faces.

Second, we are weary and rather embarrassed that we have so many judges and elected officials who deal more harshly with traffic offenders than with these union goons who break criminal law. These are not immature teens who might deserve a break. These are hoods who need to feel the full wrath of the law.

Third, we are sick of unionized public employees striking against the public in defiance of state laws. It becomes worse when they try to justify their illegal and immoral behavior by constantly beating their breasts and weeping copious tears about their "sacrifice" for the public.

Fourth, we are weary of striking workers who are found in contempt of court yet never suffer any penalty. Elected officials show their lack of courage by caving in and making "no reprisals" a part of the settlement. The ringleaders should be fired, and they should stay fired. Then they should go to jail for their violence or contempt of court.

Fifth, we find it incredible that strikers receive food stamps and other welfare benefits. That forces law-abiding citizens to finance their strike!

It is no wonder that the union halls are empty. Principled people don't want to associate with cruds, clods and criminals.

Copyright, 1997, Don Boys, Ph.D

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