NH Council of Churches: We stand with new Hampshire’s working people and oppose ‘right to work’ 

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Screen Shot 2017 03 06 at 6.58.40 PMStand up. Speak up. It’s Your Turn.

On Sunday, April 4, people of faith and all American people will soon observe the overlap of three significant holidays. First, that evening will be the end of the Jewish celebration of Passover, commemorating how God set free the Hebrew people whom Pharaoh enslaved. Second, western Christians celebrate Easter, proclaiming the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Finally, it is the anniversary of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination in Memphis while fighting for union rights.

As we prepare for these holidays and observances, it is time for people of faith to stand with all working people and oppose NH S.B. 61, this year’s version of the so-called “right to work” bill in New Hampshire which, despite its deceptive name, it not about providing access to work for anyone.

Some people may find the concerns of working people separate from their spiritual and religious concerns. But, if our hearts be with God, we must also have a heart for our neighbors. The story of Passover opens with God hearing slaves “cry on account of their taskmasters” (Exodus 3:7) and bringing them in union to the prosperity of the Promised Land.

On Easter, Jesus shows Christians that he is the perfect “image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4) in his resurrection. Because of this, Christians should see clearly that image of God in every person (Genesis 1:27) and regard every person with infinite worth and dignity. We can never separate our faith commitments from the concerns of the working people who are our neighbors.

In the Granite State, the NH Council of Churches is made up of nine diverse traditions, including Protestant, Unitarian Universalist and Orthodox bodies. Together, there are about 380 individual congregations across our state. All of these traditions express Biblical and historic support for labor unions and the right of workers to organize for better conditions.

The “right to work” bill, S.B. 61, is an attempt to weaken the ability of working people to organize and follow in those footsteps. It would divide workers wherever unions exist so that their collective voice is substantially diminished. All of the Council’s traditions urge that we support labor unions and collective bargaining and to strengthen (not weaken) them when we are able.

As Faith in Public Life wrote in an amici curiae brief in the Supreme Court case Janus v. AFSCME, “labor unions are critical components of a just society.” They added, “religious authors have long recognized that effective bargaining requires an effective means for unions to collect the funds that they need to operate.”

One such religious leader was Rev. Martin Luther King, who said as far back as 1961, “we must guard against being fooled by false slogans such as ‘right-to-work.’ It is a law to rob us of our civil rights and job rights. … Its purpose is to destroy labor unions and freedom of collective bargaining by which unions have improved wages and working conditions of everyone. Wherever these laws have been passed, wages have been lower, job opportunities are fewer and there are no civil rights.”

On April 4, Granite Staters of faith observe the triple observances of Passover, Easter and Rev. King’s death should remind us that if our hearts be with God, we must also have a heart for our neighbors. And if our heart be with our neighbors, that must include our working neighbors who are counting on us to once again stand with them and oppose S.B. 61.

Beg to differ? Agree to disagree? Thoughtful prose on topics of general interest are welcome. Send submissions to carolrobidoux@manchesterinklink.com, subject line: The Soapbox.

The mission of New Hampshire Council of Churches: With faith-filled witness and action, mutual respect, and understanding – unites for Prayer, Learning, Justice, Peace, and Stewardship of God’s Creation. Learn more at nhchurches.org