“I Stood Up to My Co-workers,” Ensign, March 2011, 68–69
I Stood Up to My Co-workers
Kenneth Hurst, Alabama, USA
One morning at work the factory bosses told all employees that in addition to our hourly wage, we would begin receiving piecework incentive pay. The more we produced, the more we would earn. This happened four months before I left on my mission, so now I could make more money to help pay for it.
Production went up significantly, and so did our pay. I worked on a three-man rubber-curing press, and every time I saw a mold come out of the incubator and trip the automatic counter, I imagined my bank account balance increasing.
The new pay incentive, however, created an incentive to cheat. A co-worker would often sneak beside the automatic counter, give its trip lever a few extra yanks, and return to his workstation. I grinned when I saw this happen, shook my head, and continued my work. I felt that as long as I wasn’t messing with the counter myself, then my integrity was still intact.
But before long I realized that because I got paid the same amount as the other men on my team, then it didn’t really matter who pulled on the counter. I was just as guilty of stealing from the company as the others were. Was I going to fund my mission with stolen money?
I agonized over what to do. The extra money in our paychecks wasn’t much. A lot of people would say it wasn’t worth troubling over, but I was troubled. I knew I had to confront my co-workers.
“Are you kidding me?” asked Bob (names have been changed), the senior team member. “Everybody cheats. Even the management. They expect it.”
He saw no need to change. What else could I do? Even without inflating our production numbers, our press was the most productive on our shift. I often heard workers on other presses say they wished they worked on our team.
“I could trade places with Jack at the other press,” I suggested to Bob.
“I think you’re being stupid,” he told me, “but I can work with Jack.”
After Jack and I switched teams, Bob often reminded me how much more money he was making than I was. Lyrics from “How Firm a Foundation” came to mind: “Fear not, I am with thee; oh, be not dismayed.” Those words helped me shrug off Bob’s taunts.
Not long afterward, Bob approached me. He said Jack was not working out, and my team wanted me back. I was surprised. I told Bob that I would return but there couldn’t be any cheating. He agreed. My old team welcomed me back warmly, and the cheating stopped.
I expected to be tested before going on my mission, but I had no idea that my honesty and courage would be tried. I am grateful that when I needed strength to do what was right, the Lord upheld me with His “righteous, omnipotent hand.”1