The National Catholic Review

Across the country, newly elected Republican governors and legislators, and some Democrats too, have been waging war against the last remaining bastion of organized labor, public employees unions, attacking their rights to recruit members and to bargain collectively. This wave of antilabor initiatives is taking place as the church marks 120 years since Pope Leo XIII published his encyclical letter “On the Condition of Labor” (“Rerum Novarum,” May 15, 1891). That letter inaugurated the church’s modern social teaching. In the United States it also began a sometimes uncertain relationship between the Catholic Church and the labor movement. In recent decades those ties have been frayed by the resistance of some Catholic hospitals, universities and school systems to unionization and even more by broad secular trends like globalization, deregulation and technological innovation. The anniversary of the labor encyclical offers Catholics an opportunity to re-envision the role of labor in the global economy and to re-establish the alliance between the church and labor.

For most of the last century, the church and unions were allies. In this country Catholics played leading roles in organizing craft, industrial and agricultural unions: Philip Murray (C.I.O.), the Reuther brothers (U.A.W.), César Chávez (U.F.W.) and John Sweeney (S.E.I.U. and A.F.L.-C.I.O.) among them. Urged on by Pope Pius XI, Catholic labor schools educated a generation of labor leaders. Labor priests like John M. Coridan, S.J., Edward Boyle, S.J., Msgr. George G. Higgins and Msgr. Jack Egan served as the movement’s chaplains, with these last two putting labor’s concerns on the agenda of bishops and Catholic institutions.

In Poland, the Solidarity labor federation took its inspiration from Catholic social teaching and the counsel of Blessed John Paul II. The late pope wrote two encyclicals in which the growth of Solidarity stood like a giant in the background: “Human Work” (“Laborem Exercens,” 1981) and “On the 100th Anniversary of ‘On the Condition of Labor’” (“Centesimus Annus,” 1991). “Human Work,” now much overlooked, is a primer on the dignity of labor and its moral priority over capital in economic relations. Appearing just a year after the formation of Solidarity, the encyclical, though it had a broader compass, may be read as counsel to the fledgling movement, especially in the encyclical’s pleas for solidarity among workers and for the movement to resist the temptation to become a political party, a counsel the movement for a time ignored.

“Centesimus Annus” appeared following the emergence of democratic governments and capitalist economies after the revolutions of 1989 in Eastern Europe. It offered advice on how to navigate the transition to market economies in ways that would respect the dignity of working people. On labor, the encyclical reiterated the church’s core teachings: Human dignity is realized through work; productive activity contributes to the common good; and solidarity is essential to upholding workers’ rights. While upholding private enterprise, the pope argued that it can become illegitimate by “breaking the solidarity among working people,” among other ways.

Pope Benedict XVI has extended that teaching in his 2009 encyclical “Love in Truth” (“Caritas in Veritate”). He called for “a compact for decent work” that “permits workers to organize and make their voices heard.” He reminds Catholics and all people of goodwill of the church’s continuing support and encouragement for labor unions, and he asks unions themselves “to be open to the new perspectives that are emerging in the world of work.” They should be especially amenable to the concerns of the unemployed at home, to migrants and to workers in the developing world. Civil society, he asserts, is the suitable forum for unions in defending the interests of workers, particularly “exploited and unrepresented workers.”

With workers under so many pressures and unions facing open attack, it is time to recall these principles: (1) that human dignity is realized through work, (2) that in a world of powerful corporations and weak bargaining power on the part of workers, unions are necessary for achieving a decent livelihood for workers and their families and (3) that a principal role of government is to protect the common good by safeguarding and implementing the rights of working men and women. The growth of economic inequality and impoverishment in the United States track quite closely with the decline of the labor movement. The continued fragility of the organized labor movement will doom the country to further economic and social distress. While new circumstances make new compacts necessary between government at all levels and working people, unions must have an active voice in shaping the new arrangements by which workers’ rights are realized.

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C Walter Mattingly | 5/13/2011 - 5:21am
If you read my comment above (#15), you will see that my statement, regarding the Chinese market for example, limits itself to the point of production. Currently, the factory level in China, by and large, you live or die by whether or not your product meets the demands of the consumer, the market place, not as it was, a socialst quota to produce x number of widgets of questionable quality which may or may not match demand. From the top in China there exists government control and planning; you name exactly what it is, but as I stated, where the rubber meets the road, on the factory floor, the great changes that so benefited China's wealth were to a very competitive free market economy, with its attendant successes and failures, private property, booms and busts, and general prosperity resulting from releasing to a far greater extent the vitality of the people to innovate. And it is highly competitive: in China they describe this fierce competitiveness as not dog eat dog as in the US; it is man eat man. 
 I agree that governments whivh follow generally prudent market economic principles, such as not spending more than they receive in income, such as China, certainly prosper more than those which don't, such as the US. The conversion at the factory level of these former socialist states to competitive economies is a large, and as I see it, underemphasized part of the problem the US faces: ever since the successes of such formerly poor countries such as Japan, South Korea, and Chile, rising from poverty to economic success by emulating free markets to a great extent, many others have followed, and we no longer compete with basket case socialist economies in India, China, etc, but capitalist powerhouses, small and large, in the making with which we must now compete.
Jesus gave us two miracles of feeding with fish that I recall. The early one, the miracle at Cana, in which He miraculously provided fish for the wedding guests. That was the miracle of His early youth. Later, He taught the soon-to-be apostles how to fish-cast your nets over there. In this miracle of His adulthood, He gave guidance, but the fisherman had to catch the fish, manage the overloaded boat, haul them off to market, prepare and sell them, etc. The first emphasizes what liberals tend to stress-feed by gift, the dole. It is a miracle most appropriate to the young, especially children. The latter one presents what conservatives tend to emphasize-teach a man to fish. A land of handouts vs a land of opportunity. And the overused saying is overused because it is so true to our experience; give a man a fish, and you feed him a meal; teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime. In addition, you provide in the process self-discipline and the fruits of delayed gratification, especially self-respect, rather than the dole mentality. (You can't teach self-respect as it is the effect of a cause, which is accomplishment.)
David Brooks, probably the most creative and original thinker among columnists at the NYTimes-unlike us here, with the possible exception of Fr Martin, you rarely know ahead of time what he is going to say-in his current article puts it this way. We can manage our decline with immense expenditures on such as entitlements, or we can revivify our economy. It is worth reading.
The Friedmaniacs you rail against? I only know of one country which adopted the free market principles of Friedman to the extent that it had its top economic planners, graduates of the Chicago school, actually consult with Friedman and his associates and hue to his principles to a high degree. It was the then-impoverished Chile. Barely two generations later, t is now recognized as the first developed country in South America.
C Walter Mattingly | 5/10/2011 - 6:04pm
Ed, I don't need to lecture anyone about freemarkets and their positive results. Jimmy Carter and economic reality both beat me to it and are far more articulate than me. Just take a look at the countries who are growing successfully: Chile, the first country to be designated a developed country in South America. Why? It adopted Friedman economics and went from basketcase to prosperous in less than two generations. South Korea, Japan, China, etc. Moving to free markets at least at the point of production was the secret-not so secret any more.
ed gleason | 5/10/2011 - 12:26pm
Walter; take a slow car trip through the small mid-west towns and see the abandoned stores with tattoo parlors where small businesses were. Walmart built their stores 5 miles out and ruined the small towns. They used the ' to make an omelette you gotta break eggs' [The new  GOP manta?].I read somewhere that 70% of Walmart  product is made in China.. The commies know all about breaking eggs. Now lecture us about 'free market'
C Walter Mattingly | 5/10/2011 - 8:34am
You wouldn't need to do away with unions; if you provided vouchers to the parents, unions would over time have to adjust their focus,which now is almost exclusively toward the benefit of their members, which you would expect, to the interest of the ones with the voucher: the parents. I'll give you an actual example, which I've mentioned here previously but perhaps you didn't catch. A friend, a single mom, well educated with two kids, had one child experiencing social/personal development issues that were affecting his grades negatively. After a semester of no improvement, she arranged after considerable effort a meeting between the school pyschologist, the asst principal, and two of his teachers after school. Two days before the meeting, the asst principal called and told her the meeting was cancelled because the teachers' union rep told them it was not in their contract. (With great financial difficulty, she removed her child from the school and placed him in an episcopal school.)
If she had a voucher, I really doubt that this meeting would have been cancelled. The union rep (mind you, the teachers were quite willing to have the meeting) would have realized that the parent could remove the child from the school, and the 3% dues that student represented in teachers' salary would be lost to the union, perhaps for the entire career of the child's public education. The market forces would be in place to see to the best interest of the student; not doing so would penalize the union. And that sort of thing would echo throughout the system. A senior poor teacher would tend to drive students out of the school to better alternatives and would thereby cost the union, not add to its coffers. Union interests and student interests would be forced to more closely align.
As far as making certain there are good teachers in inner city schools, perhaps we could take a lesson from the army. Those troops who are in war zones get extra pay. Provide incentives for those good teachers to put in the extra work it takes to be successful in more difficult environments.
The successes of the Chinese economy largely date to establishing profit and loss responsibilities at the level of production. You can now go bankrupt in China if you don't meet consumer needs at a cost the consumer is willing to pay. Therefore products and productivity improve. It is still of course dominated at the top by a government that sets general priorities, but where the rubber meets the road, it is largely a free market system. They saw what happened when S Korea, Japan, Chile, etc went to market economies. And while that is great for them, it means we no longer compete with basket case socialist economies but harder working, better educated ones which are now structured to compete successfully.
Walmart provides an immense good to our most needy citizens. Its typical customer is a lower income shopper. It is estimated that the effect that Walmart has had for that shopper on holding prices down is 10% savings. Walmart accepts lower margins and markups, is less greedy than most in that regard. Imagine if a modest income family spends 10K a year on groceries, household, school sundries etc whose prices Walmart keeps a lid on. That is an extra thousand in the pocket of a family making maybe $45K a year, a huge benefit. You don't hear them complaining much about Walmart because they know its value to them. In addition, according to Al Gore, Walmart has been one of the greenest and most environmentally  responsible corporations of its kind in the country. Try to find an inefficient incandescent bulb at Walmart or Sams. Been years since I saw one. I had to go elsewhere to get one I needed.
ed gleason | 5/9/2011 - 5:19pm
Walter; to blame seniority on inner city school failure is to be unaware of the reality. Those with seniority choose only the best schools. No seniority the lousy schools. Would you force the best teachers into the worst schools? how?. Would you watch the best flee to the burbs which is what is happening enough now. ?.. how would you do the reform.? break unions so that the high paid administrators can further push down the inner city schools.? I bet you also  blame the unions for all the success of the Chinese economy and not one word about the Walmarts who order all the cheap goods. Is it the unions who are stocking US shelves with the cheap goods.??    O! it's the invisible hand of the market is it?
C Walter Mattingly | 5/9/2011 - 3:20pm
From my tone I think you can discern that I don't agree with the valuation of Madonna's wardrobe and shimmies nor the financial wisdom of paying twice what the quality of a pair of sneakers is worth because of the name stamped thereon. But I consider the valuation of Madonna as primarily an issue of valuing sexual sensationalism, sex as a recreational activity divorced from family contexts, and the kids paying those prices 1/ lacking the education to know when they are being manipulated, and 2/ so lacking in self-esteem, related in my experience to their lack of accomplishment and often to their poor education again, that they "purchase" their esteem by association with an athlete. But my opinion is only my opinion; the marketplace is the collective judgement of the members of that market's value of those products. The price tag, the financial valution, is merely the collective value of the market's judgement. Teaching the family values of sexuality and thrift would help. No one forces anyone to purchase them.
Nowhere I am aware of above have I critiqued the teachers at public schools; it pains me that the 2/3 of those who are dedicated are going through their current grief. It is the unions that represent them and their activities that have caused the majority of the damage. I know teachers who resent the seniority system that retains mediocre senior teachers at the expense of good junior ones, especially when they wind up faced with last year's poorly prepared students as a result.
And I have nothing whatever against dedicated public school teachers. In fact, I would like to distinguish between the good and dedicated teacher and their excellent performance from the mediocre one by retaining them and paying them more than the less dedicated. Wouldn't you? I also believe that Roberto Clemente deserved being paid quite a bit more money than Frank Howard. Don't you? Finally, I believe the parents of the child are in a better position to determine which school in their neighborhood is best for their student than a bureaucrat in DC or the state capital. Don't you?
ed gleason | 5/9/2011 - 1:39pm
everyone can agree that inner-city schools are a mess. But why?  maybe you should look into  your exaltation of the financial, values culture that has given you Madonna, [really now lady Gaga], 100 million dollar pitchers who lose  [Zito] 140$ sneakers and maybe stop saying 'it's the teachers' . Teachers and unions  are not the bringers of our toxic excesses. Free market excesses are the main  'persons of interest' in MHO...your unregulated market is a playground for the wiseguys..
C Walter Mattingly | 5/8/2011 - 8:47pm
Gerry, please extend the courtesy of quoting accurately the person whose words you claim bring shame upon him. What I said was that it was likely, my opinion therein implied, that Reagan saw the same damaging effects that Jimmy Carter saw that unions (and their ally, government regulation), with their special interest self-aggrandizing motivations, were causing the US economy and citizenry. That is supported by the facts, such as Jimmy Carter firing the illegally striking public employees of the postal unions in New Jersey, San Francisco, and elsewhere, much as Reagan did a few years later with illegally striking Patco workers. In fact, Reagan basically followed Jimmy Carter's contingency plan, the Management Strike Contingency Force, to prepare for a public union walkout, including the use of scabs. Jimy Carter proclaimed when he signed the Staggers Rail Act, "By stripping away needless and costly regulation in favor of marketplace forces whereever possible, this act will help assure a strong and health future for our nation's railroads." He did the same thing with the trucking industry, resulting in lower prices, increased competition, and the closing of union trucking lines which had bloated labor costs induced by unions. Before Carter's Alfred Kahn deregulated trucking, along with the air, rail and telephone industries, uniion truckers represented 60% of the workforce; by 1985, barely half a dozen years later, it was down to 28%. Alfred Kahn, in one of his books, wrote, "I have to concede that the competition deregulation brought certainly was terribly, terribly hard on the airlines and their unions, who had heretofore enjoyed the benefits of protection from competition." Furthermore, in 1977, the democratic mayor of Atlanta, Maynard Jackson, fired 1,300 striking sanitation workers.
So Gerry, when you castigate me, you shoot the messenger for reporting the truth of the actual situation: Jimmy Carter was more the free market deregulator and union buster than Ronald Reagan. He did more, and unlike Reagan he was the one who got the ball rolling. The path Reagan followed was prepared by Jimmy Carter.
Gerry, I can't justify why Madonna's prancing about in her undies was worth a hundred million some years in the marketplace, but that is what others  determined her value was. Who am I to say? Nor did I understand why the kids at my restaurant paid $140 for a $65 pair of sneakers because they displayed Air Jordan rather than Keds on them. But that is what they chose to pay. It may not be fair before the universe that two pitchers with the exact same talents except that one has a 96 mph fastball and the other an 86 mph fastball, with the former making 10 million a year while the latter can't get a job in the majors, except that, like that best CEO compared to the average, the first pitcher will win most of his games and the second would do so only in the minors. That's the way it is, and it's  fair before the world, with this caveat: as long as both had an opportunity to develop their talents. And that's where the base unfairness lies: our inner city public school system.
GERRY DRUMMOND MR | 5/8/2011 - 2:59pm
Walter, shame on you for saying above, "What Reagan saw was the same thing Jimmy Carter saw, unions which had evolved into narrow special-interest groups out for their own self-aggrandizement at the expense of the citizenry and the state."

Walter, you have been brainwashed by the CEO apotheosis team.  An honest soul in search of a benevolent dictator be you.  And if you can't find one benevolent dictator, you make one up.

Reagan has feet of clay as most of us, including unions, still do. But hopefully we are not as self-delusional as you portray Mr. Reagen.

Capitalism is based on the profit-motive-AS SELF-INTERESTED AS YOU COULD BE-and, in context, this is ok with me because capitalism with a conscience, if you will, is the ground upon which democracy grows and thrives . . . as long as collective bargaining (a la Rerum Novarum May 15, 1891) grows and thrives, too!

CEOs are supposed to lead their companies into profit-land or lose their positions.  Of course, many -as the recent Wall Street and Bank-led recession shows- made money for themselves (not for the stockholders) even when they screwed up.  And you praise them and slam unions!

A Democracy in search of a benevolent dictator, as you promote, is heading our county to a civil war between the rich and poor as the gap between them grows because the CEOs are taking all the marbles in the game.  Don't you see this?

No fair! No care! In your world view, when unions try to even the playing field, they are branded as self-interested morons and when CEOs grab all the marbles and make 300 times their workers' wages, they are made into gods and benevolent dictators whose hands we should kiss so they look kindly on those of us who are simply trying to bring justice to the workplace against all odds.

Walter, say it isn't so!

C Walter Mattingly | 5/7/2011 - 11:11pm

"Does Walter see the force for good as residing in the CEO?"
Depends on the CEO. I would say that Bill Gates, whose charity has expended more of his resources for the health of the world than the World Health Organization some years, might be worth mentioning. Here in my city, corporate executives have funded the 3 inner city parochial schools with vouchers, guaranteeing all applicants the financial opportunity to attend the entire 9 years by providing them scholarships with which they can escape the poor schools in their neighborhoods. Another wealthy CEO has just committed 100 million to the troubled school system in Newark, NJ. Our current president is trying his best to limit such generosity which allows the parent and student rather than the bureaucrat to be empowered to have control over this important aspect of their lives, yet the people of DC have spoken as well as others and may be breaking through. Perhaps there are even some union CEO's who are generous as well.
LIkely what Reagan saw was the same thing Jimmy Carter saw, unions which had evolved into narrow special-interest groups out for their own self-aggrandizement at the expense of the citizenry and the state.

GERRY DRUMMOND MR | 5/7/2011 - 10:45pm
Democracy depends on checks and balances, transparency and fair treatment of all residents, citizens and aliens, workers and managers.  And decent communication. Unions help create justice in the workplace and social justice in society. Unions have made this country and others better places in which to live.

Unions are as good as those who belong to them.  Ditto for management. In the US, barely 7% of the private sector are unionized and less than 30% of the public sector.  In New Jersey, the figures are higher but we in labor are still a minority even in New Jersey.

In America, CEOs today make over 300 times what an average worker makes.  CEOs wages rose 24 % last year while workers with jobs averaged 3.3%.  There is something obscene in this picture and it's not the pay of the workers.

Governors (mostly Republican), taking a cue from NJ's Gov. Christie are scapegoating public employees unfairly and deceitfully every day in the media, twisting facts and using -sometimes with the help of local media-the big sins of non-union goverment officials who game the system as the reason to scapegoat public sector unions.

In Bergen County, where I'm the White Collar President for our county workers (Local 755 USWU/IUJAT), our workers average barely $48,000/ year with a wage range of $25k to $110k. (Our blue collar colleagues are 20% less than this.) We've always paid into our pensions.  We contract with agencies to provide home care services that keep residents out of nursing homes.  We man and woman a mostly medicaid bed nursing home with our nurses and nurses aides and other staff.  We are HAZMAT rescue workers, public health professionals and nurses, contract administrators, accountants, secretaries, counselors for troubled families and children, engineers.  Along with our blue collar brothers and sisters, we are law enforcement workers, meals on wheels drivers, senior center directors and kitchen staff and drivers of the disabled. 

And we are fed up with the lies and ignorance bantied about by those who attack us but never show how they make a living.  And we are fed up by the bullying of a governor who talks about us to others but not with us.  Meantime, at least one member of his cabinet collects his state retirement pension while working fulltime-something, of course, we workers could never do.  We are professional and dedicated and highly educated, more so than the private sector but we once took less pay for more benefits.

Thank God America says the right thing and, in the spirit of the First Amendment, is willing to print the blog the nonsense of those who would attack truth, justice and equality by scapegoating labor for problems we did not create.  The failure of the church to address the honorable role of labor and unions in America today is evident at Sunday mass in most parishes where few priests preaching have the courage, much less the convictions, of those great priests you recognize in your editorial. 
ed gleason | 5/7/2011 - 9:06pm
"The reason for the low esteem in which unions are now held is that the American citizen/worker looks at recent history and frequently sees not a force to bring jobs, fair treatment, and stability to the American worker"
Maybe that union guy Reagan convinced too many here that  he didn't need unions once he sold out to GE.  
Does Walter see the 'force' for good as residing in the CEO.? Maybe in the founding CEO.. never in the ambitious riser.

Without unions and/or at least the threat of unions, some here think that 100million dollar CEOs and the  too ambitious MBAs would do the "Christian/Catholic justice thing that springs from their hearts. . Funny how on the other blogs they have so little trust in human nature that they love all the other forms of coercion. Maybe a low level job in China or Arabia or any other hell hole that outlaws unions might be enlightening to them.
When I was young Cardinal Spellman tried to  use the seminarians to break a grave digger strike. Stacking up the un-buried is the ultimate Catholic guilt trip.. By the way, no gravediggers lived in Scarsdale at that time.   
C Walter Mattingly | 5/6/2011 - 7:14pm

We as commentators are ignoring and miscontruing important aspects of the union issue in the US. We badmouth Walmart, ignorantly claiming it doesn't offer benefits to employees and blaming them for offering parttime jobs when in fact many of its employees, especially students and moms caring for families, want exactly that. (There are retail grocery chains such as Whole Foods which offer better benefits and are acclaimed by their employees as being one of the best companies in the US to work for, and they don't have to pay 3% of their salaries to a union).  Republicans blame democrats for expanding greedy, industry-wrecking union activities, when it was Jimmy Carter, the union buster, who deregulated the entire transportation industry, emasculated the Teamsters,  and reined in public unions by firing illegally striking postal workers well ahead of Reagan. It was Bill Clinton who knocked over 5 million off the welfare rolls, with the majority returning to jobs. What did George Bush, a big government, big spending liberal when we examine the dollars he spent, do to bust unions compared to Carter or end welfare as we know it compared to Clinton? Non-defense discretionary spending grew 35% under the Clinton presidency; it grew 65% under Bush.
And when President Obama, whose presidency was to a great extent purchased with union money and union votes, tried to tax what he called cadillac health benefits, who shot him down? The unions with, of course, their cadillac benefits.
Unions can still organize, despite the fact that they have lost their abilities to dominate corporations as they did in the recent past. What America here fails to recogize is what the American people are increasingly recognizing: that where the unions were powerful, Detroit, the rustbelt, New York, Illinios, California, the states are having the most severe deficits and employment issues; the industries in which unions have traditionally been most powerful, auto, steel, etc, have seen terrible declines and bankruptcies-excepting those of foreign companies building plants that are not unionized, where jobs are relatively secure and salaries and benefits available that are very desireable to their workers. And let us not even talk of our disastrous, union-dominated public education system.
The reason for the low esteem in which unions are now held is that the American citizen/worker looks at recent history and frequently sees not a force to bring jobs, fair treatment, and stability to the American worker, but rather another special-interest group, often a for-profit corporation, primarily interested in the self-aggrandizement of its workers and its leaders against the best interests of the industry, fiscal budets, students, and ultimately the citizenry, of the states where they are active. 

Ruth Burr | 5/6/2011 - 3:07pm
I am tired and frustrated by MY CHURCH  having a narrow  tunnel vision when it comes to ANYTHING  Democratic , as Cris Mulcahy has so well pointed out  above.
It's just a blind view ,that if the Democratic Party is pro union ,it must be GOOD.
If the Church says unions are always right and for the working man , it MUST be true.
IF the  union working man was not pricing himself out of competition ,everybody would be in better shape now economically. 
It's good to question values  and criteria , educate yourself and THEN decide the pro's and con's of an issue, regardless of Party affiliation.
I was shocked to see my own Pastor promoting Obama fpr President , even though Obama is NOT PRO LIFE . Another example of the being brought up  with  a Democratic mindset. So what if he is pro abortion.............he's a Democrate for him !!!!!
Ruth Burr | 5/6/2011 - 3:07pm
I am tired and frustrated by MY CHURCH  having a narrow  tunnel vision when it comes to ANYTHING  Democratic , as Cris Mulcahy has so well pointed out  above.
It's just a blind view ,that if the Democratic Party is pro union ,it must be GOOD.
If the Church says unions are always right and for the working man , it MUST be true.
IF the  union working man was not pricing himself out of competition ,everybody would be in better shape now economically. 
It's good to question values  and criteria , educate yourself and THEN decide the pro's and con's of an issue, regardless of Party affiliation.
I was shocked to see my own Pastor promoting Obama fpr President , even though Obama is NOT PRO LIFE . Another example of the being brought up  with  a Democratic mindset. So what if he is pro abortion.............he's a Democrate for him !!!!!
Christopher Mulcahy | 5/6/2011 - 2:32pm

The relationship between government and Democratic union management is not what any churchman had in mind when considering Catholic social teaching on the rights of the working man or woman.  “Let’s you and I negotiate about his money.”  Franklin Roosevelt, and other liberals,  rejected this model.

Once again, no need in the liberal press to discuss the responsibilities of the employee.  His obligation to do well in school.  To develop marketable skills.  To apply himself or herself with prudence, fortitude and temperance.   (Only “justice”)  To contribute significantly to the profitability of his employer.

No, the American Catholic worker is still a stumbling peasant,  despite all our supposed social progress.  In dire need of the direct ministrations of the state,  and of the Church.

Mike Evans | 5/6/2011 - 1:06pm
Support for labor unions is a critical part of the preferrential option for the poor. Our church leadership has been unusually silent and lacking in comment on this issue. Reducing us all to WalMart level employment standards with no benefits and no pensions and few with full time hours is not in anyone's formula for justice. The huge lobbying effort to kill off health care reform has more to do with keeping employer costs down than anything else. This short-sighted tea party backed attempt to eliminate years of hard won gains is contrary to any religious ethic.
Frank X Quinn | 5/6/2011 - 12:54pm
Your editoial Solidiarity,Forever is a timely and welcomed reminder of the anniversary of the Church's Social encyclicals and the vital role Labor Unins play in our national well-being. The prophetic voice has been muted from podium and pulpit but the needs of Human Dignity still cry out .

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