I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night, alive as you and me, says I.
“But Joe, your ten years dead?” “I never died,” said he, “I never died,” said he.
“The Copper Bosses killed you Joe, they shot you dead,” says I.
“Takes more than guns to kill a man,” says Joe. “I didn’t die.” says Joe, “I didn’t die.
“In Salt Lake City Joe,” says I. Him standing by my bed. “They framed you on a murder charge.” Says Joe, “But I ain’t dead,” says Joe. “But I ain’t dead.”
And standing there as big as life, and smiling with his eyes. Says Joe, “What they can never kill went on to organize, went on to organize,”
From San Diego up to Maine, in every mine and mill. Where working men defend their rights. It’s there you’ll see Joe Hill. It’s there you’ll find Joe Hill. Alive as you or me. Says I. “But Joe your ten years dead.” “I never died,” said he. (source:folk singer Joan Baez)
Labor Day, a day for workers to celebrate their conquests in the ownership of their production. And like Joe Hill, they often picnicked on this day and found time to plan some labor strategies. Resulting in fair wages for a days work. Which included a decent benefit package of pay raises, health care, paid holidays, vacations and retirement benefits.
Causing nonunion shops to follow suit. Hoping that would be enough to prohibit unionization of their work place. Always arguing that unionization is costly, and prohibits them from being competitive in the global market. While they lavish generous bonuses for certain management people. Quick to mention that unions are corrupt often referring to their ‘Jimmy Hoffa syndrome’s that unions are connected to organized crime. While failing to mention their own corruption. With hundreds of corporations paying millions in fines for failed workplace safety and product violations. Worthy of prison time, but a government that favors corporate crime over people and product safety, sometimes manages a slap on the wrist. RULE of Thumb: In all instances, what the government advocates, along with their corporate bosses, the workforce should advocate the opposite.
But here is where most nonunion shops draw the line because they love cronyism. Meaning those, who see themselves as having the same agenda as their corporate masters. Despite the lopsided package of pay and benefits. And look the other way, when behaviors should be reported to the authorities. Nonunion shops also love to show favoritism for job promotions. With promotions often going to those, who sing the loudest praises for the performances of their bosses. Even when, the boss is corrupt and ineffective. And O! how these shops hate overtime pay. If they pay it, it’s based upon work performed after 40 hours. But really favoring the workers regular rate of pay while allowing them to accrue ‘comp time.’ A sinister mechanism that allows the laborer to leave an hour or two earlier with pay in the future. No! You are our not allowed to accrue 40 hours of comp time and take a week off with pay. Remember it’s about exploitation and not fairness.The American work place in these nonunion shops is a hell hole of favoritism, abuse and exploitation.
Conversely, union shops represent a workplace were promotions and job security is based on seniority and not cronyism and corporate favoritism. Where no self respecting laborer would be caught at their place of employment on this *LABOR DAY.* With the exception of public servants, who provide for the safety and well being of the community. And are compensated for their public services with time and half pay and not their customary rate of pay and not comp time. And in union shops if the laborer works less than 40 hours, but works 3 hrs. overtime on a particular day. They are paid, time and a half for those three hours. On *Labor Day,* double time. None of this crap of getting overtime pay after 40 hours. Unionism is about fairness, absent cronyism, favoritism and worker exploitation.
Long, and sometimes deadly battles occurred to secure worker rights. Joan Baez memorialized the struggles to unionize with her hit recording, *Joe Hill.* Which today are mostly occurrences of the distant past. Most have bought the corporate line, “we do not need unions to tell us how to run our business.” Which in fact they do because the union is the work force. And the work force knows what is best because they are the agents of company productivity.
Centuries ago, labor became part of humanities experience because of disobedience to God, Genesis 3:19. Now fast foreword to the time of Christ, and we discover that Christ was a laborer organizer. In Matthew we find these words, “… for the worker is worthy of his food,” Matthew 10:10. Our Christ became and is a dimensional person. Whom we worship as our redeemer, and God. Always involved with the needs of his creation. Therefore, it’s incumbent upon the church to seek social and economic justice for the people. The church, like the labor movement is only as strong as it members. If we are weak, its not because of Christ, but because, we have failed to apply his teachings to everyday life.
What saddens this padre, is that many Christians have accepted the political jargon, as their own. Which is social and economic justice amounts to socialism or Marxism. More saddening is that non-Christian people and organizations have had to step up, and do, what the church has failed to do. God is an all encompassing deity. Enshrined in our all encompassing Judea-Christian heritage.
Study that heritage! Discover the stimulating experiences of the labor movement. Along with the responsibilities and implications of that heritage. And walk away with a perspective, as why America is in trouble. And, what it will take to reverse her troubles. Designed to accomplish the Peter Principal, “But grow in grace and knowledge our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” 2 Peter 3:18; “To him be glory both now and forever. Amen.”