A number of spokesmen for the United Packinghouse Workers of America recently showed how thin the veneer of “neutrality” of the secular trade unions really is. They referred to the Biblical view of work as “medieval,” described workers who do not favour the socialist New Democratic Party as “ignorant” and dismissed the Christian Labour Association of Canada as “phony.”
What brought about this remarkable outburst of hostility was Dr. Joel H. Nederhood’s speech presented to the Convention of the CLAC held in Toronto in April, 1966.
Dr. Nederhood had criticized the lust for and abuse of power on the part of secular trade unions and he elaborated on the Christian view of work and labour relations.
The Canadian Packinghouse Worker, monthly publication of the United Packinghouse Workers of America, castigated Dr. Nederhood for his comments. Obviously bristling with indignation, the editorial ill the May, 1966, issue declared:
“Dignity of work” is a medieval concept. Centuries ago, phrases of this sort were necessary to explain to people why their lives were lived in degradation, exploitation and poverty. Today not only arc these words hopelessly outdated, but they are unbelievably naive.
Upon reading this editorial, a group of Christian workers in Edmonton felt compelled to raise their voice. They did so in a letter to the editor expressing their disagreement with the editorial and with the union’s socialistic attitude. This letter, signed by seven supporters of the CLAC, was published in the August, 1966, issue of the Canadian Packinghouse Worker.
Shortly thereafter, the senders of this letter received a two-page letter from the Executive Board of Local 243 of the U.P.W.A. This is a remarkable letter in that it betrays an attitude of seething hatred and disgust with those who do not wish to embrace the secular view of labour relations. Thus, it serves to give us a first-hand acquaintance with the often half-hidden, yet very real class-struggle-oriented and thoroughly materialistic principle of secular trade unionism. This letter should be compulsory reading for every Christian, for it conveys something that could barely be more revealing in any other way. That’s why we hope all who read these lines will read on and take note of the letter reproduced below, as sent, without heading or date, to the persons referred to above.
We are informed that the signers of the letter-to-the-editor have been subjected to a campaign of hostility and intimidation. They are receiving the “silent treatment”—the weapon of cowards. One was booed. The pressure applied in this way is hard to imagine by anyone who has never worked in such a poisoned atmosphere.
One thing is certain: no Christian can be indifferent to this shameful treatment meted out to fellow Christians because they had the courage of conviction to speak and to testify to their faith in Christ. It should also serve as a reminder of the true character of those who wish to leave the Bible closed in the name of “neutrality.” Some of them apparently do not at all mind to take their instruction directly from the writings of none other than Karl Marx. Such is the intolerance and consistency of the secularists.
We have read with considerable interest and disgust your article in the August issue of the CANADIAN PACKINGHOUSE WORKER.
If you feel that unions are so powerful and unfair and exercise too much control over individual members, why then do you insist on working in organized establishments? There are hundreds of unorganized firms where lily white God fearing union hating gentlemen like you can find employment, and at your particular trade too; but you choose to work in an organized plant, why?
The answer is simple, you appreciate the good wages, the 40 hour week, the guaranteed work week, the medical surgical benefits, etc. etc. just to mention to few of the union negotiated conditions. In other words, you snoop around to find where you can get the best deal, and you find it in places where there is a good strong well run union, and you take a job there and then proceed to brainwash the union and what it stands for.
You are opposed to compulsory membership, you know that it costs a lot of money to run a union and to negotiate contracts and that someone should pay those costs, but not you, people like you just want to reap the benefits that a union gets for you but you don’t want to pay your share. You just want something for nothing.
If this is the Christian way of life then we are glad that there are not too many such Christians, there should be less.
There is a quotation in the Bible which says it is “better to give than to receive,” but this does not apply to Christians like you, you are more interested in receiving than giving. It is significant to note that those who are so opposed to the genuine type of trade unionism quickly stuff their pockets with the financial benefits gained by such union. One would think that this type of character would not accept and wage increases gained by the so-called “tyrannical” labour union, this ought to be against his lily white principles, but since the employer is forced to pay all workers any negotiated wage increase, this character ought to immediately pass the extra money to any charitable organization or church of his chOice, or notify the employer he wants no part of it. W e do not know of (t Single case where this was done, instead they greedily pocket the benefits and look for more.
It would appear that the CLAC is rather ignorant. of the facts of life.
In the first place all employees ore organized into powerful unions of their own, secondly, we know of no employer squawking about belonging to any of the many employer organizations.
All corporations contribute huge amounts of money to political parties (excepting the N.D.P.) not nickels and dimes, but thousands of dollars, and. there is no crying from the shareholders because they are intelligent enough to realize that our whole economy is controlled by governments and they financially support the political party and candidates which will do them the most good.
Unfortunately there are many ignorant workers who just don’t understand what political parties stand for and what legislation they pass in whose favor.
It simply is not true that trade unionists must contribute to the N.D.P. Any union member who does not wish to contribute simply notifies tile treasurer in writing and his contribution ceases.
In politics as well as in genuine trade unionism we often find infiltration by undesirable individuals and organizations whose motives are questionable. ‘l’here are in this country too many phony outfits posing as labour unions, some are inspired by management, some by foreign interests, etc. But in any case, these are designed to confuse and split up the legitimate and honest trade union movement and principles. Until such time as the CLAC proves otherwise, we must assume that this organization is either an ignorant, confused mixed up, arrogant assortment of headline seekers, or a well oiled, well planned sponsored group designed to weaken the legitimate trade union movement we must admit that we don’t really know.
We all believe in God and church, but not all of us believe all the pastors and what some of them are trying to accomplish.
It is strange that there are highly religious God fearing, church going people who see fit to call the workingman’s struggle to improve his lot “tyrannical power.” It would seem that all unions are bad except the CLAC. Who is this CLAC to fudge others? As the old lady said to the army sergeant, “Everyone is out of step except my Johnny,” so it seems that all unions are out of step except the CLAC.
It is at least nice to know that you do not believe in compulsion and that you do not have to pay any dues to the CLAC while enjoying the benefits of this organization, if any, however, we wonder who finances this glorious organization. And we equally assume you do not have to contribute a nickel to the Christian Reformed Church (the church of Balthazar Vorster of South Africa) to enjoy the benefits, but we wonder who finances “Back to God Hour.” As unquestionably this requires much money to operate.
Your honest and sincere leaders should advise you not to associate yourselves in employment where a legitimate union exists, they should advise you to find employment elsewhere, instead you bite the hand that feeds you.
However, if you cannot find employment except in organized houses, you should not pocket the increases, you should pay your own and your family’s hospital, medical, surgical and drug bills. You should never dispute the boss’ decisions but accept them with cap in hand and on bended knees, remember that he is a better human being. If you get fired don’t argue about the merits and the reason, just accept it as God’s will.
We are not forcing you to work under our type of trade unionism, you are free to leave at any time. By the same token don’t preach any phony unionism to us, we don’t want ally part of it.
We have no use for the CLAC and we can assure you that we simply wouldn’t work in an industry where one exists and this principle should apply to you.
Local 243, U.P.W.A., Executive Board.