Unions (6)

In articles that have appeared in this magazine in the past, I have shown that membership in an organization necessarily implies responsibility for the principles and actions of such an organization. This is because of what is called corporate responsibility. The members of a corporation are answerable for the principles and deeds of such an organized group. In the last article, I wrote concerning the oath. And we noticed that although all unions do not insist any longer on the formal swearing of an oath, there are some unions which still make the oath binding upon its membership. But we concluded the article by saying that the swearing of the oath was not necessary to be responsible for the principles of a union. To swear an oath is sin except it be done to defend the truth of God’s Word and to further the cause of Christ’s kingdom. It is only on rare occasions that a Christian should take an oath upon his lips.

But the formal swearing of an oath is not always necessary to become a member of a union. Sometimes it happens that when a prospective member of a union signs a membership card, the swearing of an oath is implied. Sometimes, no oath may be included at all. But the fact stands that essentially it makes very little difference.

The point I wish to make is that any union which does still demand an oath, whether that be by formal swearing, or whether that is merely implied in signing one’s name, does that in order to receive from the prospective member a guarantee of allegiance to the union. And this allegiance to the union is an absolute allegiance. It is more important than any other allegiance a person may have. If there is a conflict between his allegiance to the union or to his family, the union comes first. If there are demands of his faith to His God which are contrary to the demands required by his faithfulness to the union, then the union comes first. In every sphere of life, in every phase of existence, his allegiance to the union is paramount. As long as there are no conflicting allegiances, everything goes smoothly. But if a conflict arises, then the union comes first, and an individual must abrogate any other allegiance in favor of the union. It stands to reason that the union would have no other purpose in demanding an oath than that. You cannot find any other motive for such a demand on the part of a labor organization then that by means of such a demand the union is assured of your complete absorption into its fold, so that it becomes of utmost importance in your life. This is also confirmed by experience. The union will tolerate no division of your loyalties. If you set other loyalties above that of the union, then there is no place for you in their commune. They have no room for anyone who is not completely devoted to them.

But perhaps you say, What about the unions where no oath is even implied? The same is principally true. It stands to reason that if you become a member of an organization, you are duty bound to be loyal to that organization. That goes without saying. It is your calling to be the best possible member of any organization to which you belong. You may not be a half member, or a poor member. You must be a whole hearted supporter or be none at all. And so your membership in the union should also be governed by that principle.

But again I wish to stress that as such you are also responsible for the principles upon which such an organization is founded. You agree to the basis of an organization, or you cannot join. And your signature is an explicit guarantee on your part that you are in favor of the principles of that organization. And all the actions of such a body whether or not they are in conformity to the principles, are your responsibility. You give your tacit approval as member. Even your negative vote will not change that. You may not agree with the majority, but by retaining membership you signify your willingness to abide by the decision of the majority. If that question is a question of principle, then you are duty bound to uphold it. And you stand responsible for all that your organization does.

Therefore it becomes a very important question, What are the underlying principles of the labor unions in our country?

And to that question we must now turn.

I do not claim to be an authority on the entire labor question. Nor is that necessary. It is sufficient to read the constitutions and observe the unions in action to determine their aims. And on that basis they certainly stand condemned.

The union movement was inaugurated in our country as a protest against the severe working conditions under which labor was forced to work. The situation was intolerable. Long hours, hard work, poor conditions, child labor, threat to health — each had its place in the long list of grievances that the working man held against the management of factories.

And many of these grievances were undoubtedly valid; for management was dictatorial and tyrannical. Greedy men wrung the last drop of life blood from their help and were little better thin dignified gangsters. The working man could barely earn enough to survive with his family and never received the just due for the effort of his body.

And so men organized into groups committed to loyalty to their unions in order to change their plight by mass protest. They were of the opinion that they could force radical changes by uniting and forcing their demands to be considered by those in authority over them. They marched forth under the slogan “United we stand they waved the banner of freedom for labor; and they brandished their potent weapon of the strike. And in their efforts they were eminently successful. One need only compare the working conditions of the average man today with those of a half century ago to see how successful they really were. They succeeded in forcing management to erect new and modern plants; to increase their wages; to lower their hours of work; to give them benefits of hospitalization, guaranteed wages, insurance and sundry other delightful things to the carnal satisfaction of the man who gropes and strives for power and possessions. They were instrumental in gaining legislation to do away with sordid conditions and evil practices, to protect them in the attainment of their goals, and to make them the ruling class in the economic struggle in our country.

Indeed they have achieved their purpose.