Government sector labor unions in Torah, Gospel, and the Catholic Catechism part 2

Our modern theories of government revolve around differing understandings of human nature. Capitalism, Communism, and Anarchy revolve around the idea that men are basically good and therefore do not need to be governed. Socialism is founded upon the premise that men are basically bad and need a ruler to make them behave. There is no thought to the idea that the fearless leader is also a human being, therefore bad, and therefore needs to be governed.The democratic ideal and the ideal upon which the founding fathers molded our Constitution is the Judeo-Christian ideal.

Our constitution is based upon a very clear understanding of human nature, one which conservatives refuse to agree with.

This ideal states that men are made in the image of God, but also have original sin. This is found in Christian Catechesis since St. Augustine, is found in the Baltimore Catechism, and in our modern Catechism, section 386. In fact, this idea traces all the way back to the Jewish Creed, found in Deuteronomy 6:4-9, which states, “Love God with all your hearts (in Hebrew the word for ‘hearts’ is plural and the word for ‘your’ is singular) with all your animate being, and with all your measure.” In Jewish tradition, the reason “hearts” is plural is that we each have two hearts, a desire for the good, and a desire for the bad. We have within us the image of God, and original sin.

Our Catechism does not teach that leaders, business leaders, political leaders, union chiefs, or otherwise are any different. We all have within ourselves the image of God, and original sin. We are all imperfect and need people who can see our imperfections and point out their corrections to us without fear of reprisal.For Pharaoh/Governor Walker, that is the elders and the union chiefs. The voter does not see the imperfections of management as they relate to the public workplace. A government based union does see the imperfections of government management. I learned in college that the most productive companies and the least productive companies are union shops. How can this be?

The studies show that the main variable is the attitude of the company to labor unions. Those that cooperate with unions use union training. According to the study, the average Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) apprenticeship program:

  • registers relatively few apprentices,
  • produces more cancellations than graduations,
  • enrolls a small proportion of female and minority apprentices, and
  • provides training in a narrower range of crafts.

Union apprenticeship programs, on the other hand, enroll and graduate the majority of construction apprentices, including the majority of female and minority apprentices.

In a company that cooperates with unions, the union grievance committeeman is more likely to act as a foreman, enforcing company and union standards, than fight with management over  management mistakes. The union grievance committeeman is a senior employee who knows the most efficient ways to complete tasks and is in a position to pass this information on to junior union members. When their is no union, the grievance committeeman is not walking the shop floor and helping junior members.

In companies that fight unions the opposite is the rule. They are more likely to want to cut corners as it relates to employee safety than in pro-union companies. We are reminded of Governor Walker putting locks on the windows of the Wisconsin Capital building with people inside, just like as was done at the Hamlet Fire building at the Imperial Foods chicken processing plant on September 3, 1991, and at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in 1911. We are also reminded of the cutting of corners at the Deep Water Horizon and the people killed there. We are also reminded of how safety corners were cut when the Titanic was built and set sale in 1912. Governor Walker and BP are in more need of regulation than the general population, and showed it through their actions.

Business leaders, in government and private companies, need to be regulated. They are imperfect human beings and make mistakes, sometimes stupid mistakes, locks on the windows, that kill people. Business leaders need regulation from government, from their customers, from their suppliers, including their employees, unions. Government leaders, being no different than any other business leaders need regulation from their customers/ the people, their suppliers/the people, and their employees, unions.

Pharisee is simple Hebrew meaning Separate Oone. Those who think they are better than others and not needing regulation are Pharisees. The Hebrew word for “Wicked,” is “Russia,” and comes from the same word as “Rosh” as in “Rosh Hashanah,” head or first of the year, New Years.” “Wicked” means to think oneself first. When we think ourselves first, therefore not needing regulation from the people/ the government employees, we are “Russia,” “wicked.”

We can already see what is starting to happen in relation to Wisconsin with its Pharaoh/Pharisee, Russia, governor. Older teachers are starting to retire in mass, while college students who might otherwise have become Wisconsin teachers consider other lines of work. We can soon expect to see a teacher shortage. With the teacher shortage, the market god Governor Walker worships will start to dictate the wages of teachers. He will end up paying teachers more in the long run to compensate for his demand for control, putting himself and his ideology over the needs of teachers, students and his constituency, and he will receive less. Only those not able to do something else will want to be teachers, so the quality of teachers will drop. We see this in the Deep South where the Walker plan is already in place.

In stating governmental workers, do not have the right to unionize, conservatives use argument to reduce government employees to be less than non-government employees. In the Catholic Catechism, section 2414  states, “The seventh commandment forbids acts or enterprises that for any reason – selfish or ideological, commercial, or totalitarian – lead to the enslavement of human beings, to their being bought, sold and exchanged like merchandise, in disregard for their personal dignity.”

This is exactly what those who argue government employees do not have the right to unionize are doing. In section 2430 it states, “Economic life brings into play different interests, often opposed to one another. This explains why the conflicts that characterize it arise. Efforts should be made to reduce these conflicts by negotiation that respects the rights and duties of each social partner: those responsible for business enterprises, representatives of wage-earners (for example, trade unions), and public authorities when appropriate.”

Note that government sector employees are also called to negotiations, as unions. with the Governor, to address grievances. Again, government unions are mandated, not called illegitimate, as Charles Baird’s presentation claims.

Our Catechism has very very specific things to say about labor unions and human nature. We need to know them!

We also read sections 2434-5, “A just wage is the legitimate fruit of work. To refuse or withhold it can be a grave injustice. In determining fair pay the needs and the contributions of each person must be taken into account. “Remuneration for work should guarantee man the opportunity to provide a dignified livelihood for himself and his family on the material, social, cultural, and spiritual level, taking into account the role and the productivity of each, the state of the business, and the common good.” Agreement between the parties is not sufficient to justify morally the amount to be received in wages.

2435 Recourse to a strike is morally legitimate when it cannot be avoided, or at least when it is necessary to obtain a proportionate benefit. It becomes morally unacceptable when accompanied by violence, or when objectives are included, that are not directly linked to working conditions or are contrary to the common good.

It becomes clear that these passages promote labor unions as a legitimate vehicle for making sure workers receive a moral wage, a living wage, along with safe working conditions. Government work is not excluded in these passages. Our moral teaching is in strong support of checks and balances upon all people and organizations.

God commands us to love him with all of our hearts, with all of our animate being, and with all of our measure. (Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and Mark, 12:29-31.) We love God by taking care of what is his, in particular each other.) That includes organizing as unions, and societies for the betterment of all. That means using unions, and government to promote the general welfare of all. That means meaningful regulation of the workplace through union and government. It means nothing is off the table. Charles Baird with his presentation on “Why Government-Sector Unions are Illegitimate,” is morally in error and should consider rewriting his presentation.

One other item well worth noting is that public sector management sets the example for private sector management. The classic example of this is the PATCO strike that ended On August 5, 1981. Before the PATCO strike, a government sector union fighting a modern day Pharaoh, 23.2% of the population were in labor unions. The bottom 50% of the population brought home 26% of all income, the unemployment rate was 7.1% very low by today’s standards, the richest 5% brought home 14.6% of all income and the richest 20% brought home 41.1% of all income. This was because there was a short term recession in effect.

In 1968 29.5% of the population was in labor unions, the poorest 50% of the population brought home 27% of all income, while the richest 5% brought home 15.6% of all income, and the richest 20% brought home 40.5% of all income. The unemployment rate at that point was 3.6%. Some want to argue that this was a result of the outcome of World War II.

The problem with this reasoning is that Europe and Japan had largely recovered by that point, while Russia and China were two of the three world super-powers. Further, with the rise of these countries and others, we not only gained competition, but also customers for our goods. The rise of other economic powers was revenue neutral, until the Nixon and Reagan administrations. It did not matter which political party was in control up until that point. Budgets balanced, unemployment was low, and wages were high.

That all changed with the PATCO strike and the rise of supply side economic theory. Now we are two nations under the market, one black, one white, one rich, one poor, one enslaved by poverty and one enslaved by wealth. Our management style and theories comes out of the thinking of Friedrick Taylor, promoting planning, organizing, staffing, and controller ship. Leadership has become a euphemism for salesmanship.  We now have the best liberty and justice money can buy.

Before, we had no need for a universal health plan. Now, 45,000 people die every year due in part to low wages and a lack of health care. 8,000 babies die every year, half of them pre-born due in part to a lack of adequate neonatal care. We had 2,000 people die in New Orleans because government chose not to keep up the levies because of government budget cuts. Strong unions may have prevented these deaths by demanding that management confront the need and address it. In the late ’50s and through the ’60s the US spent 13% of its GDP on infrastructure. Now that figure is 3%. Strong unions try to address this issue and increase taxes to pay for adequate infrastructure spending. China now spends about 10% of its GDP on infrastructure and it is growing.

Another reason for the deaths of the 2,000 in New Orleans is supply side economics, which resulted in inadequate transportation out of the city. Some 5,000 workers die each year because they are not in labor unions resulting in inadequate protections for workers. We also have 1,238,490 work related injuries each year, due to unions not being in place to protect working conditions, in the government sector and in the private sector.

All of this is due in part do to the PATCO strike and the government response to it. We are returning to the conditions of the The Monongah Mine disaster of Monongah, West Virginia which occurred December 6, 1907, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City of March 25, 1911, the Hamlet Fire of September 3, 1991, and the Deep Water Horizon Disaster of our recent past. It was labor unions, and government employee labor unions which fought to put in place the regulations that worked so well in the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s to prevent these disasters from occurring again.

We learned about dust bowl conditions in history books. They were a thing of the past. The Department of Agriculture controlled things, educating workers, promoting soil erosion prevention and the like. Dust bowl was a thing of the past. No longer.

We now have 50.2 million people in food insufficient households, including 17.2 million children, while the richest 20% of the population controls 85% of the wealth. The reason for this class being possible is that the richest 20% of the population is no longer in touch with the thoughts, feelings and needs of the bottom 50% of the population. Therefore, I must report with embarrassment that Charles Baird’s presentation on “Why Government-Sector Unions are Illegitimate,” is even possible.

We claim that we are pro-life. This presentation has non-Christians saying, “Yes, and I am getting ready to relax on some exquisite Kansas beaches.


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