Without the Boats and Eye Patches

Yesterday was Labor Day, and millions of Americans celebrated it with chips and burgers, grateful for the three-day weekend, and with only a dim awareness of what the difference between Labor Day and Memorial Day might be. In short, Labor Day for most has been scrubbed free of all commie toxins, and is now perfectly safe for your family to enjoy. More background here.

Someone might wonder what’s wrong with celebrating work, or the work ethic, or a culture of hard work? How is that a commie toxin? The answer is nothing, and it is not a commie toxin. Keep right on.

Pressed on the point, someone might say that we need to celebrate organized labor. Okay, I’ll bite. Organized to do what? Organized by whom? Organizing to what result?

The answer is that collective bargaining, unlike labor or work, is not part of the creation mandate. Organized labor is organized to take control of an asset away from its rightful owners without paying for it. Organized labor is organization of property by those who don’t own it. Organized labor, by driving up the costs of production through coercive means, destroys industries. Organized labor is piracy without the boats and eye patches. Why would anybody want to celebrate organized labor?

Good hard work, fine. Organized labor, not so much.

However you describe it, organized labor wants to force all workers at a particular point of production to join the union, whether they want to join or not. They want to make membership in the union a condition of employment. They want to extract dues by force of law, making those dues a kind of tax. They want the right to walk off a job they did not create, and simultaneously keep that job off limits for others by harassing any “scab” who desires to replace the absent workers. In short, organized labor is organized to do unrighteousness.

Take away ungodly coercion — the coercion of business owners and other workers alike — and you have taken away the whole enterprise. If all the goals of unions are so lofty and noble, why can they not be accomplished by peaceful and non-coercive means?

We live in a fallen world, and so coercion is sometimes necessary (and when it is, it is authorized by Scripture). I should not feel bad that our laws “coerce” potential thieves, rapists, and murderers. In effect, organized coercion like this is legitimate because it is taking a stand against free lance coercion, against anarchistic coercion. Lawful coercion is bounded and defined by the law of God. Unlawful coercion likes to justify itself in accordance with what it can get away with. So far unions have been getting away with a lot. Why has a phrase like the “prosperity of Detroit” become a laughing matter?

Someone might ask then if it is a sin to belong to a union. Well, no, it is not a sin to be coerced, any more than it is a sin to be captured by pirates. But I would be willing to say that it is a sin to organize a union. It is wrong to celebrate it.

10
Leave a Reply

avatar
 
5 Comment threads
5 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
9 Comment authors
DaveJohnBro. SteveBike bubbaEdmund Warwick Recent comment authors

  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Edmund Warwick
Guest
Edmund Warwick

Organized labor was actually more of a response to the horrific abuses of a small number of greedy uncaring business owners (think Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire), than it was ever driven by ideology. The public were horrified by these horrors and sought a legal and meaningful way to protect themselves and others. History matters.

RandMan
Guest
RandMan

This blog spoken like someone who has pulled himself up by his bootstraps! Wilson, glad you don’t benefit from religious tax exemptions. I certainly would hate to think that the fiscal efficacy of your particular line of work was somehow dependent on the glad-handing of a nanny state.

ashv
Guest
ashv

Wilson’s case against organised labour in the abstract is pretty weak, but since, as you say, history matters: the history of “Labor Day” is 100% Communist and deserves to be recognised as such. Naturally stories of workplace tragedies were used to help sell it, but they weren’t the driving force behind it.

Edmund Warwick
Guest
Edmund Warwick

Ya I was criticizing his history. I’m actually not a big fan of unions, but I also think we need to represent the history honestly. You are right that newspapers mobilized unionization more than anything. Wilson writes as if your average steel worker, or labour organizer were walking around with copies of Capital…

Bike bubba
Guest

Yes & no. Labor unions in the U.S. date from the post Civil War era; they prospered most brilliantly among those who fled Europe after the failed socialist revolution of 1848. So you really cannot ignore the connection of labor unions with socialism–it was an obvious application of the Communist Manifesto, whether or not majorities or even pluralities of workers caught on to who Eugene V. Debs and others really were. Now certainly abuses like the “company store” and being paid in scrip instead of real money didn’t help things–it gave a pretext for unionizing those who otherwise would have… Read more »

bethyada
Member

Is it a sin to be part of a voluntary union?

If a person has a legitimate claim against his employer (such as unpaind agreed to wages), do the unions offer a valid service in getting access to a more powerful legal team. It seems that if a justice system disproportionately favours the powerful over the just one could avail himself to a union?

sean carlson
Guest
sean carlson

No fan of unions, never even joined one. Seems I read somewhere that the biggest one’s are now either city, state, or federal. Still I believe they have a function when owners/management abuse their workers. Presently unions are at the bottom of the barrel, but don’t worry, management will screw up & they’ll be on the rise again

DCL
Member
DCL

So if owners/management abuse their workers, the workers will leave and go work for a competitor who doesn’t abuse their workers, a function of the free market. Problem is, the same government that allows unions also allows for owners to buy laws and regulations that stifle competition and defeat the free market.

Bro. Steve
Guest
Bro. Steve

Management is the collective bargaining agent for the stockholders. They’re organized to get all they can from the workers and customers for as little as they can pay the former and as much as they can get from the latter. I have no problem with workers and customers organizing to get the best deal they can. I think your economics, politics, and your religion all need to recognize that it’s perfectly okay for us all to do this. By the way, most corporate management is a closed shop. You can’t play on that team unless you buy stock, usually a… Read more »

John
Guest
John

I don’t think there’s a problem with basic organization of labor. It’s simply workers using their force as a group as opposed to individual negotiation. There’s nothing coercive about that, well nothing more coercive about it than a business negotiating for it’s own good results. The problem comes about when governments give advantages to the organized labor unions.