TORONTO – They work for God, but say workplace conditions too often are wretched. A group of United Church clergy in Ontario and British Columbia, therefore, have taken the first steps toward unionizing the 4,000 pastors in Canada’s largest Protestant denomination.
Citing psychological and physical abuse, bad working conditions, sweatshop wages and a corporate church that responds to their problems inadequately, a group of 30 clerics in Ontario and a similar number on the West Coast have invited unions to step in and organize the church.
Physical abuse has become such a problem for clergy that in England, the giant Manufacturing, Science and Finance Union, which represents 1,500 Anglican priests and a few rabbis, has made available tae kwon do martial arts defense courses rather than insist its members turn the other cheek.
"People are sometimes angry at God or religion or at life, and the clergyperson represents that," said the Rev. David Galston, pastor of Eternal Spring United Church in Hamilton and one of the leaders of the unionization movement. [Source]
Unions among priest and religious are nothing new. In fact St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Aviala and many other priest, religious, and laity have been involved in union with God or the local chapter of the Transforming Union.