What does the UMC say about labor unions?

From the beginning, the Methodist movement has focused particular attention on the concerns of workers. Methodists in England were founders of the modern labor movement and the earliest labor unions. United Methodists today stand in this heritage. Justice, dignity and equality for workers are an integral part of our social teachings and heritage. For 100 years, we have fought for a living wage in every industry and our Social Principles make clear that we believe people - not profits - should be at the heart of our economic system.

Collective Bargaining

We support the right of all public and private employees and employers to organize for collective bargaining into unions and other groups of their own choosing. Further, we support the right of both parties to protection in so doing and their responsibility to bargain in good faith within the framework of the public interest. In order that the rights of all members of the society may be maintained and promoted, we support innovative bargaining procedures that include representatives of the public interest in negotiation and settlement of labor-management contracts, including some that may lead to forms of judicial resolution of issues. We reject the use of violence by either party during collective bargaining or any labor/management disagreement. We likewise reject the permanent replacement of a worker who engages in a lawful strike.

¶ 163b, Social Principles, The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church - 2016. Copyright 2016 by The United Methodist Publishing House.

Rights of Workers

Historic Witness of The United Methodist Church

Historically, The United Methodist Church has been concerned about the plight of working men and women. In the United States, we were among the first supporters of the labor movement where both lay and clergy members played leadership roles in supporting garment workers, textile workers, farm workers, and factory workers and advocating passage of the Fair Labor Standards Act and the National Labor Relations Act. From our beginnings and across the globe, we have led the way in seeking improved conditions and stronger unions for workers. Through public policy work, shareholder advocacy, and consumer power, the church and its members have sought to influence political and corporate decisions affecting working conditions around the world.

Supporting Workers' Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

The United Methodist Church through its Social Principles recognizes and supports the right of workers to organize into unions of their own choosing and to bargain collectively regarding hours, wages and conditions of employment (Social Principles ¶163b). Workers around the world are finding it harder and harder to form labor unions to achieve economic and social justice in the workplace. Many employers interfere with employees' efforts to exercise their right to unionize by firing or retaliating against union supporters, threatening to close their facilities, or speciously challenging bargaining units or election results.

From The Book of Resolutions of The United Methodist Church - 2016. Copyright 2016 by The United Methodist Publishing House.

Have questions? Ask The UMC or talk with a pastor near you. And check out other recent Q&As.

This content was produced by Ask The UMC, a ministry of United Methodist Communications.