Of News and Events


The excessive power of American unionism has been painfully felt by our country again. The recent dock strike on the East and Gulf coasts has dealt a staggering blow to the economy of the country. U.S. News and World Report estimates that at the end of the fourth week of this strike the daily cost for the economy of the country was in excess of twenty-five million dollars and that over 100,000 workers had already been idled by the walkout. The effect of this strike is being felt in every part of the American economy from the high cost of bananas in the corner grocery store to the crippling of our foreign aid program for depressed and needy peoples throughout the world.

Some voices are being raised in opposition to this frightening union power. The voice of concern does not come, however, from the White House. It would appear that the President is in no mood to jeopardize his political power by addressing himself to what is obviously a monstrous threat to the economy of our land. In fact, instead of seeking to curb union power it would appear that he is out to increase it. White House pressure has been exerted, .according to reports, on Lockheed and Boeing in California to bow to the union demand for a union shop. Both these .companies stand opposed to this concession and they are to b e commended for their determination to hold out against union coercion and White House pressure. The unions :in this case try to tell us that these companies are defying the government. This seems to me to be utter nonsense.

Senators Everett Dirksen, Barry Goldwater and John McClellan, Representative Robert Griffin, and others, :Republicans and Democrats alike, are deeply concerned with this growing threat and are minded to do something .about it. We may fervently hope that their tribe may increase. Curbs on the power of labor unions is a high priority need that must be met. Unions today have almost total immunity under antitrust laws and yet they are the biggest power trust in the country. They are free from taxation and yet they possess a staggering amount of the country’s wealth. They have authority to use union funds for purposes of exerting political pressure and the membership of the union has no real voice in deciding what direction this political pressure shall take. They have power to compel workers to join the union. Where a worker refuses to join he loses his right to work. No other organization in the country possesses such privilege and power. Even the government itself does not possess such power over the lives and rights of the people.

The Labor·management Reform Act of 1963 as sponsored by Goldwater of Arizona is summarized in the January 28 issue of U.S. News and World Report. The following seven points of crucial importance are listed.

1. Make unions give 30 days’ notice of any proposed strike.

2. Require a vote by workers, using secret ballots under the National Labor Relations Board, to decide whether to have a strike, if 30 percent of the affected workers ask for a vote.

3. Make a strike unlawful if a majority of workers vote against it. Any strike then would be an unfair labor practice subject to penalties under Taft-Hartley Act.

4. Make a strike unlawful if a majority of workers vote against it. Any strike then would be an unfair labor practice subject to penalties under Taft-Hartley Act.

5. Deny exclusive bargaining status to any union not admitting all eligible workers to union membership on an equal basis.

6. Require the Secretary of Labor to sue in federal court any union when a worker claims his rights are being violated.

7. Where union membership is compulsory, require the Secretary of Labor to bring suit for the benefit of any union member who complains that the union is using its funds for purposes unrelated to collective bargaining, if the Secretary of Labor finds a factual basis for the complaint. If there is a judgment against the union, it would lose privileges, including tax exemption, until the judgment is satisfied.

This it seems to me is a big step in the right direction. Justice and equity would demand that legislation of this type be enacted as soon as possible.


Meanwhile across the border in Canada The Guide, the fine official publication of the Christian Labour Association of Canada (CLAC), in its December 1962 issue tells us of happenings in the labor world there that are of deep significance. Here we are told that the Ontario Labour Relations Board has refused to certify a local of the CLAC on the ground that the constitution of the union is “discriminatory.” This charge against the CLAC constitution is based on the inclusion of biblical principles in that constitution. The fact is that it is not the policy of the CLAC to bar anyone from union membership who will agree to abide by the provisions of the constitution. This is requiring no more than is required by any other union. Yet the CLAC is charged with discrimination simply because its constitution calls for the application of Christian, biblical principles to the issues of labor and management.

The CLAC has appealed to the Ontario Supreme Court with a request that the decision of the Labour Board be set aside. If this ruling of the Labour Board is to stand unchallenged, it would mean that the government has ruled that Christianity and the Law of God has nothing to say and, in fact, may say nothing in the area of labor and management and economics. This is a deeply serious matter. The right of the minority, freedom of religion, and freedom of assembly are in danger of being undermined and denied. Any Calvinist should react sharply against such a development, and it is hoped that evangelical Christians of every stamp will be stirred to support this effort of the CLAC to maintain the right of the Lord to speak in the affairs of men. The frightening specter of the monster of the wholly secularized state looms large in this development in Ontario.


The Calvin Alumni Association is again sponsoring a series of lectures in 1963. This is a continuation of their program to bring to Grand Rapids each year a roster of lecturers who are specialists in their particular fields. The invitation to attend these lectures goes out to the whole community and is intended to enrich the cultural and academic life of the community. The lecturers for this year include Dr. James Zumberge, newly appointed president of the Grand Valley State College, who spoke on the subject of glaciers. Reports indicate that his talk was both instructive and interesting. Dr. Samuel D. Estep of the University of Michigan Law School is to speak on the legal questions which are involved in the exploration of outer space. Dr. Martin E. Marty, associate editor of The Christian Century and a Lutheran clergyman, will discuss the Vatican Council and what Protestants may expect from it. And General Lester S. Bark will speak on the Communist menace in Asia.

The roster of speakers for 1963 is indeed impressive in that each of these men appears to be qualified to speak on the particular subject which has his interest. This observer wonders, however, where the distinctive Calvinistic Re· formed witness is to be found in this series of lectures. This, it seems to me, is a question of considerable consequence. The Calvin Alumni Association is an organization which stands committed to the Reformed Calvinistic principle of interpretation. This being so, there is an unavoidable responsibility to bring a Christian witness to the community and to demonstrate the claim of Christ in our lives and in the whole of life. One wonders if adequate consideration has been given to this requirement of bringing a distinctively Christian witness to our community.

We do not believe as Calvinists that the confessional commitment is of no consequence. On the contrary we are convinced that one’s basic confessional stand will necessarily condition the way in which subjects are presented and the interpretations that are offered in discussion. It would appear that little consideration has been given to the matter of confessional commitment, and in so far as this is so the Association has been unmindful of its first responsibility. There is little doubt that we must seek to escape from the shell of a narrow provincialism and to enter into the stream of American life and thought. We may only do this, however, with a confessional commitment which is firm and a Christian witness which is clear, so that all who hear may be confronted with the claims of Christ Jesus our Lord.