In 1791, Philadelphia carpenters went on strike to demand that their employers reduce their work hours to 10-hour workdays. Their banners read “from 6 to 6”. In 1864, the eight-hour workday became a central part of demands of the Chicago labor movement.
Ford Motor Company became the symbol of a caring employer when, in 1914, it took the radical step of doubling its workers’ pay to $5 a day and cutting their work shifts from nine hours to eight.
This brief bit of history shows that a fair wage and a good working environment has been on the mind of employees for a long time. Thursday’s devotional in “Our Daily Bread” recites the Bible passage of Matthew 20:1-16 , which is the story of employees agreeing to a wage, and then being angry about their agreement.
The story is about an employer who hires employees to work in the vineyard. They agree to work for a denarius, which was considered to be a day’s wage. They were happy for the work and happy for the fair wages.
The landowner/employer went into the marketplace and found more potential workers. He hired them on the spot and they immediately went to work, which was a few hours after the others had already begun working. They so wanted employment that they went to work without a firm agreement on their wages.
Later in the day, the landowner hired more looking for work, and they basically worked a half-day. At the end of the day, it was time to be paid. The first group were paid their agreed full day’s wages. They were happy. They were happy until the second and third group of employees were paid the exact same amount… a full day’s wages.
I enjoy that story because from a legal perspective, it is a Biblical story about an employment contract. It’s also a story about being happy with your state of affairs, until you start comparing to everyone else. An old story with modern lessons.
For pic o’ day, I went with a picture that makes me appreciate what I have. I don’t enjoy flying… but at least I’m not flying with Amish Airlines!