Sunday, November 07, 2004

Unionized Clergy

The United Church is both the largest and most progressive protestant denomination in Canada. A number of participants in my social movement history project are or were connected to the church, and their social activism is very much tied up with their faith. Though they later became Quakers, Muriel Duckworth and Frank and Isabelle Showler started their lives of active pacifism because of the influence of the United Church in the years before World War II. Shelley Finson and David Murata are both ordained ministers in that denomination -- the former is a retired theological educator and played an important role in the movement that brought feminism to the Christian churches in Canada, and the latter is a parish minister in urban Winnipeg with a focus on community organizing.

Another theme that has emerged from the interviews I did in that project is that just because a group, organization, institution, or movement has an orientation towards justice in one way, shape, or form, one cannot automatically assume that to translate into orientations towards justice in other ways.

Because it relates to both of these themes that are part of my current work, here are links to articles from CBC, CP, and Reuters, discussing a new initiative by ministers of the United Church of Canada to become unionized with the assistance of the Canadian Auto Workers (which, coincidentally, also happens to be the largest and most progressive private sector union in Canada). The main complaints from the ministers appear to have to do with working conditions, safety, and lack of responsiveness to their needs on the part of the church's national office. They would be the first clergy in North America to unionize, though certain Anglican ministers and rabbis in England have been unionized for about a decade.

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