The Labor Day Statement of the USCCB has appeared, and offers important thoughts for Christians navigating the challenges of the Great Recession. Writing in his capacity as Chair of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Bishop Stephen Blaire of Stockton reminds us that over 12 million are unemployed; that some ten million families are among the “working poor”; that 46 million Americans, including 16 million children, live in poverty. He gently admonishes our contemporary political culture, noting that “in the current political campaigns, we hear much about the economy, but almost nothing about the moral imperative to overcome pervasive poverty in a nation still blessed with substantial economic resources and power.”
And at a time when some seem intent on invoking subsidiarity mainly to slash the social safety net, Bishop Blaire also offers a pointed Labor Day observation.
Unions are a sign of subsidiarity by forming associations of workers to have a voice, articulate their needs, and bargain and negotiation with large economic institutions and structures of government. Like other institutions, including religious, business and civic groups, unions sometimes fall short of this promise and responsibility….When labor institutions fall short, it does not negate Catholic teaching in support of unions and the protection of working people, but calls out for renewed focus and candid dialogue on how to best defend workers. Indeed, economic renewal that places working people and their families at the center of economic life cannot take place without effective unions.