All Around Us

Labor’s New Muscle 

Newsweek magazine of April 3, 1978 points out new and growing attempts of the unions to gain control of the workers of the country. They are seeking to use their considerable financial clout to compel employers to submit to their demands for unionization. We might be noticing some of these effects in our own area soon. The article states:

Few people noticed last year when the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union put a new organizational strategist . . . on its payroll. . . . But last week the entire labor-management world was marveling at Rogers’s work. The 34-year-old ex-VISA volunteer and political campaign consultant has turned around what had been a futile ACTWU struggle to organize giant J.P. Stevens and Co.—and his tactics couldrevolutionize the labor movement. “The movement for the first time is using its economic power,” says Prof. B. J. Widick of the Columbia University Graduate School of Business. “And it will use it again.” 

Rogers’s strategy is designed to isolate Stevens from the rest of the corporate world by pressuring the textile manufacturer’s outside directors to quit its boards, and by forcing other companies to oust Stevens officials who sit on their boards. And the power play has worked remarkably well. . . . 

The new muscle is working so well, in fact, that other union leaders are eager to try it. The International Association of Machinists, the United Auti, Workers and other unions are considering the use of similar tactics against banks and other corporations that do business with South Africa’s racist government. The AFL-CIO may draft “standards” for the placement of union pension funds. Declares one top labor leader, “We’re going to send a message to business and the financial community: ‘You can’t associate with dirty people without getting your hands dirty. . . .’ ” 

Outsiders seem divided as to just what the implications might be. The Wall Street Journal last week referred to the ACTWU’s new weapon as a “secondary blacklist.” Rogers admits his tactics are harsh, but he and other labor experts deny that the strategy amounts to illegal secondary boycotting, as the Journal seemed to imply. 

The union’s tough tactics were born out of desperation. In twelve attempts since 1963, it has won bargaining rights at just two Stevens plants—and it has been unable as yet to work out a contract with the company. Some experts now think the mounting pressure may ultimately be too much for even Stevens to bear. Says Professor Widick: “J.P. Stevens will settle in two or three years, when its stock starts going down.” That’s an iffy proposition—but if it materializes, it will be mighty testimony to Ray Rogers’s new organizational tactics.

At the same time the often wide-ranging editorials of the Banner contain also some unsolicited comments of the editor concerning another position of the union: that of opposing the “right-to-work” laws. Says he in the April 7, 1978 issue:

. . .The union movement has set itself, you know, against “right to work laws,” and on the whole I think correctly so. Rightly, at least, whenever “right to work” has meant in practice the destruction, or serious weakening, of unionization….

Now the editorial is concerned rather with the “right” of everyone to have a job if he so desires. But the strange insertion of the above comment, leading to another point, is surely out of place in any Christian magazine. The Christian Reformed Church itself, I understand, has synodical decisions against belonging to any anti-Christian union. It has, of course, largely ignored its own synodical rulings in the past. But regardless, I consider it harsh and cruel that any editor of a Christian magazine should publicly declare that “on the whole” the union is correctly against “right to work laws.” There are many of us who still firmly believe that the old Christian Reformed stand is correct: the child of God can not belong to any union which opposes God or the standards of His Word; that there may be no union between light and darkness. When, therefore, an editor endorses one of union’s pet clubs (to forbid anyone the “right to work” if he refuses to join the union), one can only shake his head in wonderment and even discouragement, and ask, “Who is in whose camp?” For shame, editor De Koster! 

Christian Schools Under Attack 

In the March/April 1978 issue of Liberty, a Seventh-day Adventist magazine, appears another article concerning the struggles of some Christian schools against the power of the state. In Kentucky there has been some agitation on this issue. The magazine states:

The Kentucky State Board of Education is currently under a restraining order barring it from prosecuting parents whose children attend private Christian schools. 

That is but the latest installment of a debate that has been unfolding for five months. Involved are twenty non-accredited Christian schools, the former chairman of the state’s Board of Education, who is a Baptist minister, and thirty-six parents who believe that they and not the state’s Board of Education should control their children’s education. 

The Christian schools have been under pressure from the state board to meet minimum standards for accreditation since June. Twenty such schools were directly threatened with state enforcement of truancy, laws involving children who do not attend a state-accredited school. 

Parents of students in those schools, joining with the Kentucky Association of Christian Schools, lodged a suit asking that enforcement proceedings be stopped. Franklin Circuit Judge Henry Meigs issued a temporary restraining order against the state board early in October. The state has filed a response. 

Accreditation is the surface issue, but questions raised in the case go beyond simple matters of accreditation, which mandates certain textbooks, teaching methods, and teacher certification. 

Pastor Guy Goodell who operates a Christian school in his Frankfort Baptist Tabernacle and is a Ph.D. candidate in English at the University of Kentucky, says his school is given accreditation annually, but he turns it back each year. 

“The state cannot tell us what, our ministry should be,” he says. “The state board places all authority in the school with the state, but we feel that authority over the control of our children is ours.” 

Pastor Goodell says all textbooks approved for state-accredited schools espouse “proevolution” theory, “collectivism,” “humanism,” and negative values. He says the Christian school “movement” has been under attack because it teaches children absolutes.

“If you don’t have absolutes, then you have to move toward situation ethics,” he argues. “Lenin, the god of the Communists, opposed absolutes unless they were endorsed by the state. If we are turned down, then we are as state-controlled as they are in Moscow.” 

He said there is a good chance that his “movement” might lose anticipated court suits, “because they—the judges, attorneys, school officials—are all products of the [John] Dewey school systems. . . .

So the pressure increases in various states against Christian education. The attack is on various fronts. There is the question of accreditation, of tax-exemption, of government subsidy, of tuition vouchers. Many of these things will doubtlessly be used in the near future to undermine and destroy the Christian school movement. May we have the grace of God to resist—and resist also that tremendously great temptation to accept of the hands of the government the monies that some suggest they should provide to keep our schools open. 

“Christian” Social Dancing—Again 

The Banner of April 7, 1978 also reports on action taken by the Board of Trustees for Calvin College and Seminary. The following action was taken:

There was also much time and attention given to the matter of “social dancing” on campus, as reported to synod last year. After considering both the substance and the number of responses that were received by the board of trustees, a report was prepared for synod. The final paragraph of this report states, “Therefore, the board of trustees reaffirms its position re the dance issue taken in May, 1977, and reported to the synod in June, 1977. If the board of trustees’ interpretation of 1966/71 (Acts 1971, p. 139, art. 163, V, C) is correct, we would expect the synod to support the board in its efforts to implement the board’s decision re social dancing at Calvin College. If there is a basic uncertainty as to the meaning of the 66/71 decisions and their application to social dancing, we recommend that synod take steps to clarify its position while the board of trustees withholds implementation of its decision until the results of synod’s study are available.”

In the meantime, in some circles the whole question has become a joking matter. As reported in theOutlook, April 1978, the following is deplored:

Recently at a public meeting two denominational leaders made light with a laugh of some things that deserve serious attention. One speaker, as an introductory joke, said that although we are celebrating a number of anniversaries these days, some of them aren’t of much consequence; he went on to name a few and then commented that one anniversary is very important. Then he proceeded to inform us that 1978 is the 50th anniversary of the “Report on Worldly Amusements.” The crowd roared. But not all did. Serious faces showed that some considered this no joking matter. Another speaker at the same meeting observed that he was sure his audience didn’t expect that he would ask them to push their banquet tables back and join in a Tango. The crowd laughed again; but not all did. This too was no joking matter and seemed to be in poor taste.

So the debate continues on many fronts and about many issues. Serious Christians surely must consider the Word of God which also requires, “Come out from among them and be ye separate, and touch not the unclean thing.” Continued alliance between church and world, between light and darkness, between Christ and Belial may not be condoned. There is the matter of corporate responsibility. And there is the matter of the judgment day in which every idle word is judged by God. Where we too tend to compromise and seek the world and all of its corruptions, there must likewise be repentance. We also have the warnings and direction of Scripture to walk in all holiness before our God.