“For the Christian Church, if finally alienated from the working-classes, would not be Christian. And the labor movement, uninspired by Christian ideals, would be sordid in motive and chaotic in result. And society at large, with its two most potent forces thus perverted, would suffer disaster in its most vital interests.” Christianity and the Labor Movement by William Monroe Balch 1912
Yesterday was take you child to work day. Erin and I decided that for lunch we would take the workers locked out by United Grain Corporation at the Port of Vancouver some pizza for lunch. We stopped by a local pizza place with our friend Fr. Jaime Case from St Luke’s Episcopal in Vancouver and as we were buying the pizza, Mr. Hoesly from Hoesly Eco Automotive in Vancouver greeted us and paid for half of the pizza. He was very supportive and reminded us that we were doing the work God calls us to and sent his full support to the Longshoremen. If you need an auto repair Hoesly is the place to go.
I wanted Erin to see first hand that there are people who work very hard in this world, and through no fault of their own, are mistreated and taken advantage of by corporations. We must teach our children that there is more to this life than just money, and that good working conditions, dignity and fair wages are vital to a good society. I wanted her to know that we, as a family, stand with workers and their families. I was happy to see another member of Local 4 and the PTSA from Erin’s school there with her children helping everyone see the faces’ of the families affected by this lock-out.
This past week the Vancouver Police Department began arresting workers on the picket line outside United Grain’s Terminal. The charges were as silly as pedestrian interference with traffic. A few days later they responded to a peaceful protest of about 100 Longshoremen with 37 police cars and over 50 officers. This is how corporations co-opt taxpayer funded institutions for their own benefit and bully workers into agreements that are not in their best interest. I encourage you to call the City of Vancouver Police Department (360) 487-7400, and let them know that there is real crime that needs to be dealt with, and to stop harassing members of their community for the benefit of corporate greed. We expect the police to create a safe environment for all people to express their constitutional freedoms. Let the police know that when someone comes to take away their collective bargaining rights (which they ultimately will) we will stand with them.
On Wednesday morning I attended an interfaith prayer breakfast at Congregation Kol Ami. Pastor Brooks Berndt from First Congregational Church in Vancouver, and I presented the gathering a letter which included the following statement;
As leaders in faith communities;
We believe in fairness
We believe that God’s children should be paid for their work at a level that allows them to support their families with dignity and makes it possible for them to live out fully the life God asks of them
We will not be silent as another corporation seeks to create a world that hurts people for the sake of profit
We will not be silent as members of our community are bullied by private security forces and corporations that co opt our public police forces for their private benefit
We therefore call on the CEO and Officers of United Grain and Mitsui International to stand for principles greater than money and profit and to respect the dignity of every worker.
We call on the City of Vancouver to stop interfering with the God given and Constitutional rights of its citizens and wasting taxpayer money in support of corporate greed
32 people signed this letter that morning and more are signing it right now. If you would like your name added to this list please let us know and we will make sure your voices are heard.