“Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work.” this is part of one of the Ten Commandments. It is a law that has not been repealed.
When the first man and the first woman were sent forth out of the Garden of Eden to till the ground from whence they were taken, the same Law giver had decreed that, “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground.”
Man is thus commanded to work, and therefore he has the right to work. The duty cannot be imposed unless the means of accomplishment is also given. This then is one of the inalienable rights Declaration of Independence says are the endowment of all men from “their Creator.”
All men have both the duty to work and the right to work. Neither of these can lawfully be taken away or curtailed at least not without a cause. The duty is a personal matter, and each individual must exercise his own free agency in determining what he will do about it. The right to work is also a personal matter, but because of the nature of the complex society in which we live, it is also a matter which must be protected and preserved by the arm of the people’s government.
The common law right to work like the other common law rights has been developed down through the centuries. Over 700 years ago the Magna Charta, that first great English constitutional document, affirmed the right to labor and to trade. Merchants were guaranteed the privilege to go and to come and to sell freely without let or hindrance.
From this beginning Englishmen demanded more and larger guarantees of this right. Free men may now elect to work in any trade or field they choose. They have the right to earn money and to make a profit, to demand such wages as they can get and to refuse to work for them if they are not satisfactory. This is part of the right of freedom of contract.
The right to work includes the right to be free from coercion by any man or combination of men. The laborer may not be restrained in his trade, or have his output restricted, his price fixed, or be injured by unfair methods of competition.
The right of workers to organize is established and valuable, but that right ought not to contain the power to deny other men their inalienable right to work. Trade guilds prospered in France prior to the French Revolution. They started out as unions or combinations of workmen, but by the time of the revolution they had grown rich and aristocratic, and had long since ceased to represent the employee. They were so powerful that a man could not get work without the consent of the guild. The exercise of this power enabled them to be gradually converted into combinations of employers. The power to grant consent to work is the power to employ. They dominated the economic structure of France, gained the hatred and contempt of the people, and of course, were destroyed with the revolution. their downfall was welcomed with bonfires and the ringing of bells throughout France.
In England workers never permitted themselves to become subject to the bondage of the guilds. They insisted upon their right to work, and it cannot be stated too plainly that this is a right. It was considered so fundamental a right by the people of Utah that they endeavored to preserve it by making it a part of the Constitution of the state. “Every citizen of this state shall be free to obtain employment wherever possible, and any person or corporation maliciously interfering or hindering in any way any citizen from obtaining or enjoying employment already obtained from any corporation or person is guilty of a misdemeanor.” This is the law of the land in Utah and neither the legislature or any individual can properly deny this right.
There is much being said about Four Freedoms one of which is freedom from want. This is not a common law right and has not been developed and incorporated into our form of government. Freedom from want carries with it a guarantee of security. If the government undertakes to guarantee this as a right it will be supplying loaves and fishes to the people, lest they lacking these find themselves in want.
Security is a desirable end, but it is insignificant in comparison to the right of opportunity. Instead of attempting to provide a cow and an acre to every man to insure him freedom from want, the people should insist that their government preserve free enterprise. This will give the opportunity to acquire those things which will satisfy man’s wants. The right to work is inherent in free enterprise. It is part of the right of opportunity. When the right to work is denied, then free enterprise and opportunity are rejected, and our traditional way of life with its political and economic freedoms is in jeopardy.
which appeared on the editorial page (page 4) of
The Deseret News, 19 March 1945 through 10 April 1945.