Christians love unions and conservatives should as well.

From Poland to West Virginia, unions, organized workers, have checked the power of tyrants and helped working people.

This is obvious. It is equally clear that any group is corrupted when it becomes too powerful. Unions in the United States helping working people, but then lost sight of reality and the needs of the workers when they gained some of their first goals.

They asked for too much and did not adapt to a global economy. They also became too tied to “progressive” politics, even when those politics had nothing to do with union issues. (Abortion is the best example.)

As a result, unions gained a bad odor amongst traditionalists, but perhaps this has now gone too far into a reflexive anti-union bias. As the grandson of two union men, and the son-in-law of another, I have seen the benefits unions give workers as well as the down sides. Reagan was right: unions are good for America.

Powerful people often let down workers and that is true of union leaders and business tycoons. Traditional conservatives should put no more faith in the rich businessman than they do in the union boss, but of late I have noticed we often do.

In the private sector at least, the scales are now tipped against organized workers. Partly this is the fault of the unions themselves, but it is also the result of too much magical thinking from conservatives.

We are right to trust free markets to correct themselves. Mostly this must be allowed, but we are wrong (as Christians) to allow the full measure of human suffering that such corrections can produce. The “redundant” worker may eventually get a better job if the free market is allowed to work, but it will not help him if his lack of a paycheck has ruined his health and his family.

Traditionalists have long supported a social safety net to ease the free market transitions. In some areas, this net has become a trap, but in others it has become too weak. Workers feel powerless, because in many cases they are.

Eventually bad businesses are punished by the market, but this retribution can come too late for the patience of the working class. Justice unfelt or unseen is justice too late to save a republic from the seductive force of tyrants on the right and left.

I think workers recognize this fact and this explains the lopsided win in Ohio for public unions. Public unions are, oddly, too powerful and are threatening the health of state finances, but the public sector is one of the few places where this can be said. Public workers also include teachers and public safety officials nobody thinks are overpaid outside of esoteric think tanks.

It is time for conservatives to begin supporting a new union movement . . . one untied to old organizations tainted by scandal, the mob, graft, and burdened with the past.

Unions have done great good and their relative weakness is not good for our Republic.

Articles by John Mark Reynolds

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