According to CBC, an unnamed 24 year old in Saskatoon successfully used her faith as justification to skip joining the Saskatchewan Government and General Employees’ Union that everyone else at the Open Door Society (a non-profit organization that helps people new to the country) joins and pays into. The money that would’ve gone toward the union will still be taken from her paycheque but will go to a charity of some sort instead.
The woman applied to the board for a religious exemption, which is allowed under certain circumstances under a provision of the province’s Trade Union Act.
The union opposed the application. During a hearing on Feb. 10, the union’s lawyer noted that the woman testified that if she joined the union, she would face no sanctions from her church.
While the woman testified being in a union might be “very difficult,” it was not “irreconcilable” with her religious beliefs, the union said.
The woman said she understood the Seventh-day Adventists’ objection to labour unions stemmed in part from the teachings of Jesus Christ that everyone be kind to each other.
I know squat about Seventh-Day Adventists, so I had to look this up. From their Official Site:
In order to fulfill its divine mission the Seventh-day Adventist Church refrains from alignment with or endorsement of political organizations. Church members are urged to preserve and protect their own liberty and independence from alliances that may compromise Christian values and witness.
“We are now to use all our entrusted capabilities in giving the last warning message to the world. In this work we are to preserve our individuality. We are not to unite with secret societies or with trade-unions. We are to stand free in God, looking constantly to Christ for instruction. All our movements are to be made with a realization of the importance of the work to be accomplished for God.”
An article out of the Adventist Review (from 2003 maybe?) explains the history of their anti-union stance and Gerald F. Colvin, the writer of the piece, wonders if believers ought to continue adhering to the words Ellen G. White set to paper more than half a century ago. She was a woman with a deep distrust of unions; she saw them as evidence that an end of the world demonic prophecy was nearing fruition. Here’s a quote he provides from her writings.
“These unions are one of the signs of the last days. Men are binding up in bundles ready to be burned. They may be church members, but while they belong to these unions, they cannot possibly keep the commandments of God; for to belong to these unions means to disregard the entire Decalogue.”
“Unionism has revealed what it is by the spirit that it has manifested. It is controlled by the cruel power of Satan. Those who refuse to join the unions formed are made to feel this power. The principles governing the forming of these unions seem innocent, but men have to pledge themselves to serve the interests of these unions, or else they may have to pay the penalty of refusal with their lives.”
I know little about the history of unions in the States and elsewhere so I don’t know how much of her wariness was socially justified at the time and how much might have been the crackpot writings of a wacko with a pen. Either way, people have lived their lives and chosen their careers, their politicians, and educated their children by what she wrote. At the conclusion, even Colvin seems reluctant to drop her as a source of inspiration even though he notes that unions have far fewer members than in times past and perhaps lack the power earlier ones confidently wielded.
She regularly portrayed the unions of her day as both controlled by Satan and crucial in the cosmic struggle between good and evil. She believed union conflict would play a key role in establishing the prophesied mark of the beast that would prevent Sabbathkeeping Adventists from being able to “buy and sell” in the last days.
These are by no means unlikely scenarios in the world that has emerged since September 11, 2001. Adventists who understand both prophecy and the times they live in will also know that the themes that gave rise to the rampant unionism of Ellen White’s era will likely come to the fore before Christ’s second coming. … What seemed unlikely, even impossible, in the world of yesterday may progress with lightning speed today, sweeping all justice and equity before it in the name of national emergency or social good.
So apparently if your job requires joining an union you may as well just put the mark of the beast on your body now and beat the rush.
I wonder how this local girl’s co-workers feel about her approach here. Are they going to respect her convictions and be able to work with her comfortably, or will they be annoyed by the lengths she went to get her way?