Called to Stand with Workers

This morning's Washington Post said it is a "workers' market." A booming U.S. economy and high demand for skilled workers is causing corporations (after nine years of economic growth) to share the wealth, in the form of perks, raises, and bonuses.

On another front, as we go to press General Motors and

the United Auto Workers have reached a tentative accord to end a 54-day strike. What isn't clear is whether the agreement addresses for the long term a seemingly irreconcilable difference: GM's insistence that it must cut costs to survive in the global marketplace and the union's desire to save jobs.

Astonishing profits on one hand, and the specters of downsizing, outsourcing, and production shipped overseas on the other; stagnant wages in the midst of economic boom. Which is reality? It depends on where you are standing. The same flood of prosperity that is lifting some boats high is wrecking others. There is evidence that the working poor are being sacrificed to fuel the boom.

In this special issue of Sojourners we make the case, as Bill Wylie-Kellermann writes, that "it is incumbent upon the church to stand with workers, to be with them in the struggle for justice, to join them in holding corporations accountable to human community." Whichever way the economy goes—up, down, global, or local—we are called to look not to the bottom line, but to the circumstances of our brothers and sisters.

Why should churches connect and work with the labor movement? Rev. Wayne Stumme, coordinator of church and labor concerns for the Institute for Mission in the U.S.A., asserts that "in a society where so much power is weighted on the side of the wealthy and of corporations, there must be a countervailing power. The only available power for working people (aside from the individual ballot) is the labor movement."

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Sojourners Magazine September-October 1998
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