The leftward and other blatherings of Span (now with Snaps!)

Saturday, December 03, 2005

the religious objection

Anyone reading this who has any experience with unions (especially in the private sector) will know that recruitment is a big part of the game. While some of the big public sector unions have the luxury of not being too fashed about signing people up, pretty much all of the others have to keep 'em coming in the door, especially in low-income sectors where staff turnover is high and the majority of those who leave the union don't actually know that they have left, simply by leaving their current job.

I tend to not be too agressive about recruiting, but the one objection that really gets to me is "I can't join, I'm religious." I'm no scripture expert, but what is this based on?

It seems to me to be about restriction and control - usually it's not only unions the religious one can't join, it's also any group that isn't directly related to the Church in question. Isn't that a bit cultish?

In other union news, Maria Von Trapp has posted on the kindergarten teachers' strike coming up on Thursday (I mentioned the stopworks they had last week to vote on the strike a little while back). It's only the third time they've withdrawn their labour in their 121 year history, which is pretty significant - and it's not about pay!


Make Tea Not War said...

That I know of I don't think the Catholic church is hostile to unions. Catholic labour theory is quite intellectual. It draws on people like Thomas Aquinas afterall- and its also quite European- so its big on the dignity of Labour and the concept of unions as social partners isn't alien. I would imagine the anti union religious objections would be coming from people of a fundamentalist bent. I don't what the justification would be but some religions do like to quite tightly control their members.

Apathy Jack said...

"I'm no scripture expert, but what is this based on?"

Simple: Unions are the work of Satan.

Maia said...

A lot of more mainstream churches are more pro-union than not Maria(there's the huge Catholic Worker tradition, for example).

The only scripture justification I've ever heard is from the Exclusive Bretheren which say that the bible mandates a master servant relationship, and union interfere with that.

You can make the bible mean whatever you want it to mean if you pay it enough.

span said...

Maia, it's not MVT, it's span. I certainly encounter many people who are clearly religious who hold no objections to unions on that grounds. Certainly there are individuals particularly in the Anglican and Catholic churches who are totally into the broader group stuff, and those churches often play a leading roll in social movements too, eg the Anglicans and the Hikoi of Hope.

But these those other people, who belong to less mainstream churches, who I worry about - because it seems to me that their churches are opposed to unions not because they are unions so much as because they are not a part of that particular church. which sounds like a cult to me...

Maia said...

Sorry I was responding to Make Tea Not War's comment about Catholicism - and called her Maria because apparently I can't distinguish between long names that begin with M.

You also get the other weird phenomenon of churches like Destiny preaching get rich theology (I know it has a proper name but I can never remember what it is), but some of their members being staunch unionists.

Maria von Trapp said...

Yes, I'd just like to clarify that I'm an Anglican who is very pro union.


Mellie said...

Regulars will know me as the uppity Catholic unionist with an opinion and a bad joke for every occasion.

I have encountered significant opposition from union members for voting and striking - they have an interesting view that politics is sort of either a) a dirty game b) a game not for them. Either way, it always seemed a little strange that they could justify their union membership in terms of 'looking out for the underdog' (paraphrased) but refused to take ownership of it.

I think you'll find the churches that have a significant (and genuine) concern for social justice are more liberal in their views towards political activism. Liberal meaning at liberty to - look at Jim Bolger - 'good keen Catholic man' (that phrase makes me spew).