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Mike hopes to see the world turned upside down through local communities banding together for social change, especially churches which have recognized the radical calling to be good news to the poor, to set free the prisoners and oppressed, and to become the social embodiment of the reign of God on earth as it is in heaven. He lives with the blessed memory of his wife, in Durham, NC, and has three adult children living in three different states. He also shares his life with the Mt. Level Missionary Baptist Church in Durham, the faculty and students of Shaw University Divinity School in Raleigh, NC, and the faithful fans of Duke and Baylor Basketball in his neighborhood.

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Wednesday, July 08, 2009

The "At-Will" Principle

One thing that gets in my craw is the way that people who may get excited about issues of justice and ending inequitable social arrangements can turn around and advocate for following the principle of "at-will" employment. This idea, couched in language of equality, is designed to shift the power of an employment agreement almost exclusively toward the employer. It is rooted in the reaction to social change after the end of the slavocracy, and it justified a way to keep the wealthy class in control over the landless, dependent worker.

And it is not a Christian idea by any stretch of the imagination. Christians who listen to our own heritage of faith will know that we share mutual obligations to one another. Employers must treat employees with kindness and justice. Employees must give good labor for their hire. And no one should be needy among us. As the Lott Cary Youth Seminar theme stated, we are "Called to Be a Blessing to the World." God has blessed us that we may be a blessing to others. What God gives us is not purely our own to use however we wish. That is part of the lie of the modern nation-state which justified racial stratification and treating people as property. Our material goods are "property" in its etymological sense--to be used for their "proper" purpose of the benefit of the entire community.

For more on the "at-will" principle, look at my discussion of why even if it is legal, that doesn't make it right.

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