By the Rev. Niels Chapman, Jr.
Today marks the beginning of what we call the Labor Sabbath – the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday before Labor Day.
The Rev. Niels Chapman Jr. is pastor at Genesis Baptist Church in Greensboro. He is also a member and former president of UAW Local 5287 at Thomas Built Buses, where he has worked for 17 years – before and after workers there won the right to have a union on their side.
Rev. Chapman, inspired by his attendance at Carolina Labor School this summer, wrote an excellent guest column for the High Point Enterprise about the Labor Sabbath effort to get more people of faith talking about “labor unions” in their worship service so that others might connect the dots between us and the holiday that bears our name.
“Labor unions have long sought to organize the underrepresented into a force strong enough to demand fair pay for hard work and a seat at the table when decisions impacting our lives and livelihoods are being made. For decades the result was a thriving middle class, but as unions have declined so too has our middle class.
“This tragedy is not by accident but by design. The same way the defunding of public schools serves as the means to erode public education dollar by dollar, so too is the power of the working middle class being decimated policy by policy.
“State lawmakers chastise teachers and assistants for asking for fair wages and tenure while allocating their funding to private charter schools. They take away tax credits that reward hard work while denying health care to the poor. The enemies of fairness call production and service workers greedy for demanding the necessary wages and benefits to live out their vision of the same American Dream as their counterparts in the executive suite, but we’re told not to question the 1,000 percent increase in CEO pay versus 11 percent for the average worker from 1978-2014 (Hogdson, 2015).
“We can no longer devalue the importance of a collective voice for workers. We can no longer hope that corporations and policy makers will do the right thing because we ask them to. We have to return to what works for working people — labor unions. Yet too few in our community have ever even heard words “labor union,” which is why this year, on the weekend before Labor Day, my congregation will join with others in the Triad and across North Carolina to mark the second annual Labor Sabbath. Learn more about it at www.laborsabbath.org.“
Read the rest of Niels’ guest column: ‘Labor Sabbath’ aims to build collective voice | Opinion | hpenews.com
Learn more about the Labor Sabbath at www.laborsabbath.org.