You shall not withhold the wages of poor and needy laborers, whether other Israelites or aliens who reside in your land in one of your towns. —Deuteronomy 24:14-15
Each worker – judge or janitor, sales clerk or scientist, mother or millionaire CEO – is equal in the sight of God. Each person’s work, done with integrity, is a contribution to society and has value and dignity. But the world doesn’t always see it this way.
Workers are dependent on their employer but employers are much less dependent on any particular worker. This unequal power relationship can lead to problems in the workplace. A common way that workers have responded is to join a labor union.
Articles and studies
Fast-food workers intensify fight for $15 an hour by Steven Greenhouse, New York Times, July 28, 2014
The war on workers, April 3, 2014. A recent Supreme Court ruling weakens the labor movement.
At labor group, a sense of a broader movement, Sept 14, 2013. The labor movement is all workers who act together to improve our jobs.
AFL-CIO has plan to add millions of nonunion members by Steven Greenhouse in the New York Times, Sept. 7, 2013.
If labor dies, what’s next? by Harold Meyerson in the American Prospect, Sep/Oct 2012. An excellent overview of the current state of the labor movement plus a brief history of the developments in the U.S. labor movement since 1834.
State and local government workers’ unions are under attack. Read more.
Unions are one of the very best ways for workers to bring greater justice to the workplace. The right of workers to form or join unions is so important and fundamental that it is an internationally-recognized human right.
In 1993 the United Church of Christ’s General Synod XIX expressed its support “for public policies that restore the rights of working people to engage in collective bargaining without fear of reprisal.”
In 1997 General Synod XXI reaffirmed the “responsibility of workers to organize for collective bargaining with employers regarding wages, benefits, and working conditions, and the responsibility of employers to create and maintain a climate conducive to the workers’ autonomous decision to organize.”
Today just as much as ever, workers need unions. All people who seek justice must support workers’ rights to form and join a union. The right to organize a union and bargain collectively with employers is a fundamental human rights. See Article 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Why People of Faith Support Labor Unions describes how our faith calls us to support workers and their labor unions, and calls for Congress to pass the Employee Free Choice Act.
Why Unions Matter (2.51MB) by our partner Interfaith Worker Justice
Workers, acting together in a union, have been able to improve their work lives and their work places. Congregations and members of the UCC have been involved in these struggles.
Farm workers struggled for better conditions in the fields picking tomatoes for Taco Bell, McDonalds, and Burger King. They now have labor contracts with these firms, higher wages, and greater dignity.
- Smithfield Packing Company workers after many years of struggle were able to freely make the choice to form a union.