Holland, Michigan

March 23, 1945

Dear Editor:

May I have a bit of space to reply to Mr. Gritter’s article which appeared in the Standard Bearer of February 1, in respect to collective bargaining of the C.L.A.? I must admit that I cannot follow his reasoning or logic at all. Irrespective of what procedure is followed in setting wages, the fact yet (and always will remain) that all men are not equal in performing a job. Mr. Gritter admits this when he writes: “It is true, of course, that there is a great difference between men.” This great difference can, and does necessarily, affect the employer. If a man, or men, legs in one department this will necessarily affect another department. This will prove detrimental to the welfare of the employer. Has the employer the right to fire this, or these men, so that his production may continue efficiently? Does the C.L.A. also weed out such poor laborers (I am now only speaking of a matter of fact for an example) who prove detrimental to the employer’s cause? Do they bar him from the union, or discipline him when and if he loafs on the job?

Mr. Gritter may see the blessing of collective bargaining, but I still fail to see it in the light of Scripture. I cannot see why, if and when an employer desires to hire and a laborer seeks labor, that these two cannot come to an agreement. This is no mess. It has always been done, and can yet be done; with respect for each other’s rights.

Mr. Gritters is positive that the union is the only answer to acquiring our daily bread. What is he going to do when we will not be able to buy or sell unless we have the mark of the beast? Will he take the mark also? Is bread the ultimate goal of the Christian’s life? And will he do everything and anything to gain that bread? I think not. And when we pray: “Give us this day our daily bread”, is a brother therefore selfish. I think just the opposite. A Christian that in love and trust in his Heavenly Father prays this in all sincerity is certainly a lover of his brother. This cannot be otherwise. To help this brother, through joining the C.L.A., to get a better wage is far from proving that he yet loves the brother. The opposite may be (and I feel also is) the expression of love for the brother. That would be to tell him not to join the C.L.A. until such a time that justice and truth can truthfully be maintained, so that the brother may not become guilty of forcing the employer to do things to his hurt e.g. limiting him in his rights which God has given him.

The whole argument centers about the question as to what right the worker has in respect to acquiring the amount of wage that he feels he should receive for a week’s work. Scripture says: “As a man thinketh, so he is.” If we think, therefore, that $40 is the amount we will bargain to get it. But who has set the union to be sole judge in this matter? What happened to the unions during the last depression? Did we then not pray: Father, give us this day our daily bread? And did not the Heavenly Father give us that daily bread? Have we lacked anything, so that we could not praise Him? Of course not!

Our responsibility to God comes first at all times. If and when we meet this responsibility, as sincere children of God, then it is impossible to conceive that he, who lives thus, does not love his brother, and will also seek his welfare. I refer, of course, to childlike faith in God, not to the shaky type which is confession with the mouth only. The latter, when depression or loss of a few dollars seems probable, will feel that starvation is just around the corner and begin to worry and fret, The result is that such will acquit themselves as unbelievers. But God will never forsake His own. Do what we will it will not change matters at all. That which we acquire to ourselves is in God’s favor or disfavor—a blessing or a curse. Are not all our ways and lives determined by God from all eternity? Will not He supply us with our daily bread as long as He has determined that we need it?

No, we must not sit down and just assume that God will provide. Nor will any child of God ever do that. But his first aim m all things is: God bless us in prosperity and adversity, health and sickness. (See Art. 13. Belgic Confession). God bless the work of my hands so that I may have to help the poor and needy, but if Thy will be different, give me grace to glorify Thee. Save me from greed and cause me to live righteously in all my ways so that Thy name may be glorified in and through me, even in the midst of the world. Yes, then it may be possible that we end up at the Deaconate, but are we then not yet blessed?

Money, wages, etc. are not necessarily a blessing. Only that which is received in God’s favor is such. Does a little child fear that his father will not care for and protect him? Ask him and quiz him to find what his answer will be. It will put us to shame for so should we also trust in our loving Heavenly Father. When this is done, then and then only, will peace be ours even though we may receive a considerable cut in our home budget.

Now to come to my last point, the core and basis of the whole question. Let your yea be yea and your nay be nay! This is the Christian’s pledge of honor. He need not swear an oath. His yea and nay should not be questioned. This is God’s Word, and that too for a Christian Labor association. Now when the representative meets the employer, backed by the union, backed by the strike clause in the constitution (I call that strike clause the six-shot automatic revolver loaded with solid lead—22-20-45—caliber, or what have you) the weapon that may do hurt (IF AND WHEN, be careful, mister, WE MEAN BUSINESS) this weapon is the THREAT to do hurt, if and when the union sees fit. On what grounds? Scripture? Confession? Christian principles of love to your neighbor and brother? Does this fit with what the Heidelberg Catechism teaches about the 6th commandment: Thou shaft not kill? Not necessarily outright killing, nor breaking of bones, nor even only destruction of property. But nevertheless, killing by destroying his God-given rights: 1. To hire and fire whom he will, if necessary. 2. To pay the wages he desires to pay. 3. To operate or close his factory as conditions demand. 4. To hire competent men and not to hire those whom he does not desire for reasons of his own.

Who has placed us as judge over him or his property? God has not done so. May we then take the law into our own hands? May we seek his hurt by word or deed? Is not this killing him? Is not this setting him at naught? Suppose that he is unrighteous, may we therefore be unrighteous? Force belongs to the government. When was this changed? If the employer deals unrighteously (?) by cutting wages due to market values has a union a right to force him to pay higher wages to his own hurt? Does not our condemnation of the employer condemn ourselves in doing so? I think so.

Finally, for me to belong to the C.L.A. and to be represented by anyone, with whom I am corporately responsible (for whatever may happen—peace, strike, or force of any kind, of which I am not assured) and then to go home and to pray: Father, give us this day our daily bread, is nothing short of blasphemy.

Again, think it over brethren. Better to receive $1 per day in grace and favor than $3 per day in distrust and fear that we have acquired it unrighteously. Our Father in heaven knows our needs. He will surely supply them!

Your brother in Christ,

H. A. Van Putten