Friday, March 18, 2011

A prayer for Christians on strike

Today I came across a published prayer for Christians on strike in the 1957 My Prayer Book by Concordia Publishing House (Lutheran) and I thought about all the hard feelings among Christians demonstrating at the state houses and watching on TV. In quoting I've somewhat modernized the pronouns thee and thou. Somehow, I don't think workers in King James era were going on strike.
    "Owing to disagreements between my labor union and my employer, I am now on strike and out of work. I know you love all, and it is your will that I love all men as brothers. Therefore help me, my fellow workers, and my employer to overcome all selfishness and pride and to seek a fair solution of our difficulties. . .

    Protect the property of strikers and employers during the conferences between them. Give our employer a sympathetic understanding of the problems and needs of his workers. Likewise give me and the other workers a proper insight into the problems and resources of our employer, that we may not ask more than is reasonable. Prevent bitterness and strife, and where ungodly strife is present, grant your healing and peace. Guide the negotiations toward an early agreement whereby both employer and worker may profit. May fairness and justice prevail for all concerned. . .

    Give your blessing to honest labor everywhere that the needs of mankind may be supplied and that your kingdom may flourish; through Jesus Christ. Amen."

In 1957 there were no unions representing government employees--it was practically unthinkable. Wisconsin, the "progressive" state, was the first to allow state employees to bargain with their employers. In 1957, both public and private workers knew the basics of negotiating and that if you negotiate with yourself, you, not your neighbor [employer], always are the winner because of self-interest. It's like going into a ballgame where the final score is already determined. Home team wins every time. Public sector unions are negotiating with "self," i.e., the workers' union representatives are negotiating with the workers' elected representatives, and often with their own political party representatives [Democrats]. Therefore, this 1957 prayer sounds archaic--from a long distant past--and it is.

There is no "justice to prevail" at the state houses of Ohio or Wisconsin or New Jersey where one group of workers doesn't pay for their benefits at the expense of another group of workers who pay the salaries of the other group. A public sector worker employed for 35 years will pull out thousands of dollars more a year in her retirement check than a private sector worker who worked 50 years to receive Social Security. Both SS and STRS/PERS are government plans. But the school teacher who retires at 55 may get $80,000 a year (or more), and the real estate broker or small businessman who can't retire until 66 will get $28,400. And the businessman, if self-employed has contributed more! Both have elected representatives, but one has double the representation.

[Similar piece at Collecting my thoughts]

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