Labor Day: The Blessing and the Curse of it all

  1. The ground is cursed because of you. Through hard work you will eat {food that comes} from it every day of your life. The ground will grow thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat wild plants. By the sweat of your brow, you will produce food to eat until you return to the ground, because you were taken from it. You are dust, and you will return to dust.” Genesis 3:17-19 (GW)
  2. According to the biblical record, a result of Adam’s disobedience to God was the cursing of the land and as a result Adam and all generations since will have to engage in hard labor in order to eat.

    By the sweat of our brows we will produce food until the day we die. Wow that sounds like a harsh indictment for a simple act of eating forbidden fruit.

    The problem started when Adam took God’s word and provisions for granted. He was driven from the paradise in which God had placed him into a weed infested wasteland which required continuous labor to produce what God had provided to him freely and without cost. Thus began the tedious work of mankind.

    Now God is not without mercy for he also provided in the laws delivered to Moses a time for rest and time for refreshment. The first official LABOR DAY ever recorded.

  3. “For six days you will do your work, but on the seventh day you must not work. Then your ox and donkey can rest. The slaves born in your household and foreigners will also be refreshed. Exodus 23:12 (GW)
  4. Now that is a far cry from the current ‘Labor Day” celebrated in the United States of America.

    According to the United States Department of Labor the first Monday in September, is a creation of
    the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of
    American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions
    workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.

    Notice how this definition of “Labor Day’ does not acknowledge God nor give credit to God’s provision, but rather elevates the achievement of man.

    The Biblical view of labor day should be a time to reflect and thank God for his daily provisions and should be a WEEKLY occurence and not an annual one. Each day we should acknowledge our blessings from God.

    In six days the Lord made heaven, earth, and the sea, along with everything in them. He didn’t work on the seventh day. That’s why the Lord blessed the day he stopped his work and set this day apart as holy. Exodus 20:11 (GW)

    Since we are so far removed from the original paradise of God through Adam’s disobedience, perhaps we are unable to understand how far we have fallen from God’s original design.

  5. Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to farm the land and to take care of it. The Lord God commanded the man. He said, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden. But you must never eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil because when you eat from it, you will certainly die.” Genesis 2:15-17 (GW)

    Note that although God had placed man in a garden of paradise, he was still required to farm the land and take care of it. After Adam’s disobedience the land started to fight back against Adam and his efforts making his work more laborious and toilsome. The more we ignore God’s ways and plans the more laborious and toilsome our life becomes. But back to Labor Day.

  6. The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday,
    September 5, 1882, in New York City, in accordance with the plans of the
    Central Labor Union. The Central Labor Union held its second Labor Day holiday
    just a year later, on September 5, 1883.

    In 1884 the first Monday in September was selected as the
    holiday, as originally proposed, and the Central Labor Union urged similar
    organizations in other cities to follow the example of New York and celebrate a
    “workingmen’s holiday” on that date. The idea spread with the growth of labor
    organizations, and in 1885 Labor Day was celebrated in many industrial centers
    of the country.

    In June of 1984 Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of
    each year a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories.

  7. Since today Labor Day is associated with the labor union movement we need to take a look at labor unions and their effect on our society.

    There are basically two views to economics.

    Supply side economists hold that the market is the most rational
    institution in economic life. There is a market for labor just as there
    is a market for beans and pork. Workers get paid what the market
    requires at any given time — skills are marketable objects. To
    “artificially” raise wages is to distort the market and invite

    Demand side economists argue that markets create
    unemployment on their own, and generally cannot use all the skills
    available to it. Therefore, unions are necessary because they protect
    the rights of workers, raise pay and benefits and force employers to be
    more fair. This reduces unemployment because these higher wages are
    spent and create jobs.

  8. While beneficial to members, labor unions have effects on the economy as
    a whole that can be viewed as negative. The existence of a union in an
    industry can result in limited choices regarding hiring new employees or
    even limiting the potential for dismissal of a poorly performing
    worker. Whenever choices are limited, free enterprise suffers.
  9. Let’s take a look at an independent business owner (a vineyard) and see what labor practices he employed according to scripture
  10. “The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out at daybreak to hire workers for his vineyard.

    After agreeing to pay the workers the usual day’s wages, he sent them to work in his vineyard. (note the wages were agreed upon by both parties individually)

    About 9 a.m. he saw others standing in the marketplace without work. He said to them, ‘Work in my vineyard, and I’ll give you whatever is right.’ (here we see the employer acting in good faith toward perspective employees, offering whatever is right)

    So they went.

    “He went out again about noon and 3 p.m. and did the same thing.

    About 5 p.m. he went out and found some others standing around.

    He said to them, ‘Why are you standing here all day long without work?’ “‘No one has hired us,’ they answered him. “He said to them, ‘Work in my vineyard.’ (since his business was profitable and in need of workers he was in a position to offer hope to others who were not able to find work anywhere else)

    “When evening came, the owner of the vineyard told the supervisor, ‘Call the workers, and give them their wages. Start with the last, and end with the first.’

    “Those who started working about 5 p.m. came, and each received a day’s wages. When those who had been hired first came, they expected to receive more. But each of them received a day’s wages. (why would they expect more since they agreed up front to work for a day’s wage?)

    Although they took it, they began to protest to the owner. They said, ‘These last workers have worked only one hour. Yet, you’ve treated us all the same, even though we worked hard all day under a blazing sun.’ (they wanted special treatment even though they had agreed to the day’s wage at the start of the day)

    “The owner said to one of them, ‘Friend, I’m not treating you unfairly. Didn’t you agree with me on a day’s wages? Take your money and go! I want to give this last worker as much as I gave you. Can’t I do what I want with my own money? Or do you resent my generosity towards others?’ Matthew 20:1-15 (GW) (here is the crux of the issue, what one sees as generosity others may view as unfair treatment)

    We can glean a great deal from this illustration and therefore it is appropriate to use for a topical discussion on “Labor Day”. Notice that each individual worker negotiated his pay with the business owner. Each individual worker could negotiate a good or bad deal but they had complete control over what they agreed to work for. They could each agree to work for a ‘day’s wages’ or simply remain standing in the unemployment line where they were found. Compare that to the ‘collective bargaining agreements’ of the unionized workers.

    Individuals lose their rights to negotiate on their own behalf. The theory is that as a group you are able to negotiate a better plan then you could on your own. Perhaps this can be initially true but let us look at the same company as work progresses.

    We note that the company is still in need of additional workers since there is more work than the current employees can manage so the owner of the company returns to the unemployment line and hires additional workers. This happens several times throughout this narrative as there remains still more work than workers to accomplish the task.

    Would this scenario play under union shop rules? Would a company be at liberty to hire additional workers when work is plentiful?


    Unionizing significantly changes the workplace in addition to its
    effects on wages or jobs. Employers are prohibited from negotiating
    directly with unionized employees. Certified unions become employees’
    exclusive collective bargaining representatives. All discussions about
    pay, performance, promotions, or any other working conditions must occur
    between the union and the employer. An employer may not change working
    conditions–including raising salaries–without negotiations.

    Would the company be free to hire anyone or must they meet certain union rule requirements? How much would the new hire make?

    It depends on whether the business operates in a ‘right to work’ state or not. If there is no ‘right to work’ law then a business could not hire a non-union worker to fill-in for increased demand for labor. And perhaps a union shop may have a cap on new hires limiting the number of workers a company can hire, as a result many would remain standing in the unemployment line while there is plenty of work to do. In addition these same union shops may prohibit the removal of a non-productive employee and thus eliminating a job opportunity for someone willing and able to do the job.

    The main point is that the individual selection process as well as the negotiation and acceptance process would be affected by a collective approach. Many workers may miss out on opportunities because they will not be able to negotiate a workers agreement in their own behalf and as a result remain unemployed. In addition many companies may be unable to fill jobs because of union restrictions or the costs involved with new hires makes it unprofitably to do so.

    Merit pay raises are also affected in collective bargaining agreements. An individual with exceptional skills and talent will not be able to negotiate for himself a better pay rate or working conditions since he relinquished that right when he joined the collective and the company will not be allowed to offer them extra either. Therefore whether you produce more or not your pay would be the same as the person who puts in minimal effort. Thus it is possible that really productive and outstanding employees are reduced to the ‘status quo’ thus limiting exceptionalism in the workplace. Some unions members might see an overly productive individual to be a threat to the collective.

    Incentives are also limited because what is given to one must be given to all in a collective. How would this effect worker moral? How would being overlooked for a job well done make a person feel? How does giving up one’s individual identity to a group affect the self-esteem and worth of the individual?

    The owner of the vineyard in this example would be unable to do what he did under most union rules. Crops would remain unpicked in the fields because he would be unable to hire new workers to pick the crop. The unionized workforce might stop work if the vineyard owner hired additional employees, because they would see it as an effort to replace them with cheaper labor, and if it lasted long enough there would be no need for anyone to pick crops since they would all have rotted on the vine putting everyone out of work and the vineyard out of business.

    The unionization of the vineyard takes control of the vineyards assets and redistributes them according to the wants and demands of the collective without any regard to the owners wants or needs. In essence control of the profits of the company are confiscated from the owner of the company by the union. The workers end up with the profits leaving the owner who hired them initially having to live on what the union does not take.

  11. Granted not all businesses are run on a biblical premise but I would argue that unionizing is not supported biblically.

    So this “Labor Day” let us honor God and acknowledge his provisions and his blessings granting us the ability to work and achieve success. Every week set aside one day as a “Labor Day” a day of rest and reflection.

  12. Now that is the way I see it. What say you?

    This has been A View from the Nest. The statements, comments, or opinions expressed are solely that of the author and do not represent the views or opinions of the host of this site or any affiliates thereof. Any questions or comments should be directed to myself and not to the host or hosts of this site.


2 thoughts on “Labor Day: The Blessing and the Curse of it all

What do you have to say?

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s