Metallic Pea

Frustrating People Since 1971.

Blood From a Turnip

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Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?” He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay.” ~Luke 3:14


The incessant reporting on the strikes by the Writers’ Guild of America and the Broadway stagehands, while I must admit with some shame it has provided me with a degree of Schadenfreude not experienced in quite a while, it has caused me to reflect upon a parable of Jesus recounted in the Gospel of Matthew regarding day labourers hired by a landowner to work his vineyard:

‘For the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and to them he said, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went. Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing. And he said to them, “Why do you stand here idle all day?” They said to him, “Because no one has hired us.” He said to them, “You go into the vineyard too.” And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, “Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.” And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius. And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, saying, “These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.” But he replied to one of them, “Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?”

The writers and stagehands agreed to their wages, yet now they are trying to exact more from their employers through coercion.  This, certainly, is not new and it is one of the main reasons I dislike labour unions in principle.  If a man is not satisfied with the wages and/ or benefits offered by an employer he is certainly within his rights to decline the job or to (respectfully) petition for an increase.  However, should the employer refuse to comply, the worker is bound to fulfill his commitment (however that may manifest itself).  Of course, he is also within his rights to resign his position (within the parameters of his contract).  However, the employee is not within his rights to commit what amounts to blackmail by endangering–or crippling–his employer’s livelihood.  (Not to mention the economic ripple effect of such actions.)

The other side of the coin, of course, is that the employer is duty bound to provide a fair wage for the work he receives.  Sadly, capitalism, a fine but imperfect economic system, often tempts the employer as much or more as the labourer.  While paying the (literally) minimum wage may make good ‘business sense’ it is not necessarily desirable.  An employer should have the interests of his employees at heart as much as he does his own (at least to a degree). 

Squeezing as much as you can out of  ‘the other guy’ is no way to run a society.  It is certainly not the Christian way.


My older sister, Teri, and me circa 1974

(Check out the big head and little kid farmer’s tan!)



Written by ninepoundhammer

November 12, 2007 at 9:03 pm

Posted in General

Tagged with , ,

One Response

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  1. Surely the initial idea of labor unions was to counterbalance the exploitation of employees. It is a telling commentary on Fallen nature that the balances we put in place to avoid corruption become corrupted in and of themselves. Still, how is man to fare in this world if he doesn’t have the ethical counterbalance of the Holy Spirit?

    To look at it another way, if I was a Christian employer in a field where power corruption was likely, wouldn’t I want a labor union in place so that if I did take advantage of my employees, they might have a way in which to oppose me. Even if it meant that they might abuse it. Just a thought. (none of this has anything to do with the current writer’s strike just labor unions in general) Ultimately I agree with you that it is bad business practices on both sides to even have need of unions.

    Oh and your farmer’s tan is a nice.


    November 13, 2007 at 10:09 am

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