George Higgins Would Be Proud

Wondering if there is still such a thing as a labor priest in America? MSW at Distinctly Catholic managed to find at least one.

Advertisement

Now that's how a fella invocates a labor meeting.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
6 years 9 months ago
Boy, boy, boy, right wing greed props up in the most unlikliest of places:

New Haven, CT Mayor - [DeStefano] has faced street protests by public workers and their supporters, including the Rev. Al Sharpton, over his refusals to raise taxes to balance the city budget. In February the city laid off 82 workers to close a $5.5 million budget gap in the current fiscal year, which ends June 30, after unions refused to compromise with DeStefano, who was seeking a range of concessions, including greater contributions from city workers toward pension costs. The mayor freely admits that he was guilty of granting some of the government perks he now terms “unaffordable” and is seeking to trim.

http://www.nationalreview.com/agenda/264555/mayor-new-haven-facing-down-pro-tax-protestors-reihan-salam

With friends like that, who needs enemies?
Beth Cioffoletti
6 years 9 months ago
good 'ole American individualism!

As for living in the moment, David, here's a motto from the poet, Robert Lax, that is perfectly out of keeping with our times:

opportunity
knocks
but
once

sit still

it will go away

-Robert Lax
Vince Killoran
6 years 9 months ago
Amen!

Fr. Kiley joins a long line of labor priests-he reminds me of those affiliated with the Association of Catholic Trade Unionists back in the 1940s.
Beth Cioffoletti
6 years 9 months ago
Now THAT'S inspiring!!
Vince Killoran
6 years 9 months ago
"Don't waste your time blaming the other guy for your bad luck and demand that he fix things for you.  Trim your sails to the hard new winds and fix your own problems."

Thank you David for those inspiring words.

As Mother Jones said, "Don't mourn, organize!"
6 years 9 months ago
Nearly daily are the denunciations of the Bishops in this space for their naked partisanship and Republican cheerleading (such as it is).

I guess partisanship, like art, is in the eye of the beholder, huh?  Or maybe it's like pornography ("I know it when I see it").
Stanley Kopacz
6 years 9 months ago
Walter, there was a time when there was a certain amount of responsibility exhibited by the people who ran banks.  But not today.
THere was a time when the government monitored the financial system and punished crooks, but not today.
Those are my only not today's  but it's enough.   At least a hundred trillion went poof, union pension funds among them.  WHen I see these greedy evildoers punished, I'll worry about the malfeasance or overreaching of unions, but not today.
6 years 9 months ago
Interesting speech.  Fr. Kiley hit a lot of bogey men but never got at the root cause of the building trades problems. I wonder if he got anything correct.  Maybe the ''Big Lie'' is what Fr. Kiley is spouting.  Sounds good when delivered with such enthusiasm but a lot of great orators in the past did not use truth.  


He did go after those Democratic Party contributors such as Wall Street and GE.   And in New Jersey Gov. Chrisitie found a sometimes ally in the private unions who realized that the money was being drained dry by the public employees and none was left for them.  And then there is the poor who suck hind something or other in all this.  They are also being screwed by the public employees and their unions.


All unions activity these days is about money to support the unions and nothing about social justice and the poor.  It has been since the 1930's when Roosevelt found the way to bribe them with government handouts and regulations and thus prolonged the Great Depression for several years.  Again screwing the poor.  I don't think Catholics want to get behind such an approach.


As an aside I wonder what Fr. Kiley would think of our Catholic vice president who insisted that Planned Parenthood and its abortion mills get government funding.  Oh, I know he can be excused because a lot of this funding will be returned to Democrat politicians as campaign contributions.  It's all about the money for the cushy. 
6 years 9 months ago

''WHen I see these greedy evildoers punished, I'll worry about the malfeasance or overreaching of unions, but not today.''
 
Well you should worry about the public service unions because they are one of the major sources of our current problems.  Private service unions are not too much of a problem thought they helped bring down our auto industry along with management ineptness.  The major problem in today's economy is three fold of which the public service unions are one. 
 
First and the biggest problem is the housing situaion whereby a very large percentage of homeowners are underwater.  Most homes purchased in the period of 2002-2007 are priced today below their purchase price causing homeowners a major problem.  They cannnot sell them unless they want to lose money.  There was a figure recently that said that 13% of homes in the US are unoccupied.  If so then few will want to build anything when it is already built and available at a cheap price.  It is not just in the US.  In Spain there is a whole city with an airport that is a Ghost Town.  Built on speculation outside of Madrid.  Fr. Kiley was talking to the building trades and with ghost towns and empty houses there is not much good in their near future.
 
By the way the housing price problem started in 1997-1998 and ended in 2006.  During that time period housing more than doubled while normal times would expect a 9-10% increase in price.  I would look to what caused things to start in that time period.  There is more than Wall Street to criticize here and I believe they are not a very useful group for the country.  But what would New York City do without them and their enormous profits.  It would collapse.
 
 The second major cause of economic inactivity is the uncertainty of the future and the tremendous regulatory nightmare that Obamacare and the Financial regulations has unleashed.  How expensive will new employess be?  What kind of costs will I have next year or the year after.  They do not know.  If two people receive the same amount of mandated health care and one can produce $100,000 in revenue for a business while the other can only produce $50,000 then who does the business hire if the health care cost are the same and onerous especially if they do not see any return on hiring the less skilled person.  I will produce my stuff overseas where there isn't as much of an issue.  So job creation has gone down the toilet except for the very skilled.  The typical reaction is to rant about the jobs going outside the US and greedy business but the same people doing the ranting make the same decisions in their life and are not against the government meddling that encourages that.  It is especially ironic that Obama picked the head of GE to be his business guru and Fr. Kiley points the figure at them.  I know of no conservatives who are enamored by GE and its lobbying policies to get a good deal.
 
The public sector unions are the third main force causing economic decline.  While education and safe streets are conducive to a good business climate, the expense of this service has grown way out of proportion to the service.  Most of the stimulus of 2009 went to these people and it essentially bought some peace for a year but did nothing to stimulate growth which what was needed before all the housing and business properties will become occupied and the building union folks can start working again on producing more.  If Fr. Kiley truly understood what is contributing to the building trade unionist problems he would come out against the public service unions, the onerous regulation passed by the Democrats in the last two years.  Then there might be a bright future for these union workers. 
6 years 9 months ago
'WHen I see these greedy evildoers punished, I'll worry about the malfeasance or overreaching of unions, but not today.'

Its confoundingly amazing what people can convice themselves of.  The public sector unions have the states collecting their dues directly from the paychecks of their members (largely because they know that if the individual worker had to pay the dues post-pay day, there would be a significant decrease in what they pay).  The unions then turn around and spend MILLIONS of dollars on campaigns to elect politicians (read: DEMOCRATS) who will "negotiate" contracts with them that private sector unions can only dream about on their wildest days.  And they do all this with little-to-no public oversight (unlike corporations who usally have to disclose to the SEC publicly every detail of their political activities).  They were the single largest contributor to political candidates of ANY party in the last election cycle.  They have power the largest corporations in this country could only dream of.  And who are they accountable to, exactly?
Vince Killoran
6 years 9 months ago
Let's keep to the facts:

1. Conservatives groups & business organizations spent the most in 2011 elections (http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2011/01/07/2010-set-campaign-spending-records)

2. Unions are accountable to the government through state and federal CB laws as well as such measures as the Landrum-Griffin Act (1959); the leadership is accountable to its members through the democratic process.

Thank God for unions and the Church's long record of support-they protect us from the unfettered capitalism that wrecks havoc on our citizens.
6 years 9 months ago
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303339504575566481761790288.html


Campaign's Big Spender
Public-Employees Union Now Leads All Groups in Independent Election Outlays
6 years 9 months ago
And to debunk the myth that Wall Street is a home-away-from home for Republicans

http://nymag.com/print/?/news/business/wallstreet/peter-orszag-2011-4/
6 years 9 months ago
And I couldn't agree more with this statement:

"Thank God for unions and the Church's long record of support-they protect us from the unfettered capitalism that wrecks havoc on our citizens."

Except that is completely unrelated to public sector employee unions.  I'm amazed at the sudden non-chalance at the inherent unfairness of a private party collecting millions of dollars and using it to elect or un-elect people with whom it purports to then turn around and negotiate employment contracts with.  Again, that is a power private sector unions can only dream of!  But I guess the "corrupting influence of money" only flows in one direction - against Republicans.  Union money must be "holier" money than that evil corporation stuff, unless of course the evil corporation gives millions of dollars to a Democrat, ergo:

http://www.opensecrets.org/pres08/contrib.php?cycle=2008&cid=n00009638
Vince Killoran
6 years 9 months ago
It's deja vu all over again on IAT.

We've already discussed all of these points.  My argument is that public sector workers have a right to CB-and the Church social teachings agree. 

As for money in politics, corporations are king.

p.s. I've seen the WSJ article many times-you must look at top twenty donors and business comes out way ahead.  Hence, the USNews & World Report.
Vince Killoran
6 years 9 months ago
From the article:

"Groups promoting Republicans came to dominate this so-called outside spending, dropping $191 million, upwards of $70 million more than GOP-allied groups had spent in any previous election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Groups aligned with Democrats, on the other hand, spent only $92 million this year."
6 years 9 months ago
"As for money in politics, corporations are king."

And as the list I posted re: Obama shows, the lion's share is going to Pres. Obama. 

At the end of the day, we're talking about rounding errors.  YOu still havent addressed the initial criticism: what makes the hundreds of millions of dollars spent by the unions on ONE party (Democrats) somehow "cleaner" or "less corrupting" than the hundreds of millinos spent in favor of Republicans? IF money in politics is so corrupting, then, as the saying goes, what's good for the goose is good for the gander.
6 years 9 months ago
"We've already discussed all of these points.  My argument is that public sector workers have a right to CB-and the Church social teachings agree. "

And having a RIGHT doesn't solve the issue of how far that right extends, Vince.  A right can, of course, be abused, which is what I think the public employee unions have done, hence their ridiculously unsustainable benefits packages.  Church teaching shows that the right to organize is a means to an end, not an end.  It must be exercised with prudence and concern always FOR THE COMMON GOOD.  And again its arguable whether the statements you rely on apply straightforwardly to PUBLIC unions.  Again, we've discussed this.  Church teaching must always be applied right? To changing circumstances right?  I guess we can agree on that.
Vince Killoran
6 years 9 months ago
In the 2010 election cycle the GOP and conservatives got the iion's share of the money.

As for changed circumstances, I would argue that unions are needed more than ever.  I think your quarrel is with Church social teaching on the rights of workers. The benefits are sustainable but the greed of Wall Street and deregulation-the cause of the Great Recession-are not.

Re. big $$, well, the side that spends lots more has the advantage is warped the economic process.  BTW, I found CITIZENS UNITED to be an aweful decision.  It sounds like you did as well.
6 years 9 months ago
"In the 2010 election cycle the GOP and conservatives got the iion's share of the money."

Vince, you're avoiding my question.  Whoever gets the money, why is it such a corrupting abomination when the money goes to Republicans, but somehow when the money goes to Democrats, its somehow not corrupting, cleaner, "holier"?  Again, what's good for the goose is good for the gander, and the unions are winners from Citizens United just as much as the corporations. 

"I think your quarrel is with Church social teaching on the rights of workers."

You are absolutely correct; I just find it frustrating that the application of Church teaching seems to turn on one's politics. 

"The benefits are sustainable but the greed of Wall Street and deregulation-the cause of the Great Recession-are not."

The benefits packages are not sustainable, Vince.  You cannot have public workers paying less than 3% of their salaries into retirement plans when comparable private sector workers are paying near 20%.  And I think the unions themselves have effectively ceded this point.

Re: Wall St. "greed" and de-regulation.  I am not a fan of Wall St. banks.  I think what really need is a de-centralization of power, and true competition.  That's my problem with over-regulation - if actually ends up FAVORING big business because the costs of entering the market are prohibitive for smaller firms.  I would prefer, therefore, true de-centralization and competition.  The so-called Financial Reforms, all written by the way with the tacit approval of the big banks, are not going to do diddly squat about preventing Too Big To Fail from happening again.  Why  do you think the big banks are reaping in record profits even now?
6 years 9 months ago

''The benefits are sustainable but the greed of Wall Street and deregulation-the cause of the Great Recession-are not.''
 
What utter nonsense.  The main cause of the financial problems we have today is the rise in housing prices starting in 1998 and their subsequent collapse and Wall Street had little to do with that.  They piled on and many paid big time for it when their investments went sour in 2007 and 2008.  Two of the Giants of Wall Street, Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers, are no more and Merrill Lynch is a subsidiary of Bank of America and tons of them lost their jobs.  I know of a couple who are now Mr. Mom's as their wives are now the breadwinners.
 
Deregulation had little to do with the housing runup and collapse either.  In fact it was just the opposite, hyper regulation to ensure the poor could get loans is what started the debacle.  Nor did it have too much to do with the panic in September 2008 which was over by December 2008.  If there were requirements on the amount of equity vs debt that banks have then that would have helped.  We have been in an economic slump or Great Recession as the term is used since then primarily because of housing prices as a large percentage of houses are under water and few are building.  And for that you can point the finger in one direction, our friends in the Democratic party.  Fr. Kiley is talking to Construction unions and probably didn't get anything right in his screed.
 
Wall Street is mainly a Democratic Party appendage or vice versa.  Their money does not come from traditional business as that changed in the 1980's but comes from bonds, government and mortgage bonds which are both non business. And for that you can point a finger at the Democratic Party who funnels them money for both.  So all the people on this site who point to greedy Wall Street Bankers can also point to the Democratic Party who are their enablers.  The Democratic party sends them tens of billions in revenue and the Democratic Party get hundreds of millions in return as campaign donations.  The Republican are also guilty but the interesting thing is that the Republicans are amendable to change while the Democrats just ask for more.  The Republicans can get along just fine without Wall Street, not the Democrats.
 
And as far as Catholic social teaching on unions it is anything but social justice and especially now when the public employees unions in a large part make up a privileged community recieving artificially constructed high wages.  The Catholic Church should get away from supporting unions as the situation is not what it was a 150 years ago let alone 75 years ago.  It is a joke that Catholics could invoke Catholic social teaching to support unions when unions are one of the major causes for our economic problems and are essentiall screwing the poor.  A long way from Christ's teachings.   The Church taking up the plight of the privileged while the poor go hungry.   And that is the Catholic social teaching that is espoused by many of the authors on this site as well as the commenters.

Advertisement

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

Indigenous people walk past Pope Francis after presenting offertory gifts during the pope's celebration of Mass at the Maquehue Airport near Temuco, Chile, Jan. 17. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
Pope Francis appealed to the Mapuche, who have suffered “great injustices,” to totally reject violence “which can make a just cause turn into a lie.”
Gerard O’ConnellJanuary 17, 2018
Dolores O'Riordan, former lead singer of The Cranberries, performs on stage during a concert in 2007 in Tirana, Albania (CNS photo/Arben Celi, Reuters).
She was Dickensian, if Dickens had written a Gaelic warrior-waif, a hero with a voice that could thrill and comfort.
Cameron Dezen HammonJanuary 17, 2018
Pope Francis dove head-first into Chile's sex abuse scandal on his first full day in Santiago.
Pope Francis meets with priests, religious and seminarians at the Metropolitan Cathedral in Santiago, Chile, Jan. 16. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
Francis focused for the second time today during his visit to Chile on the abuse scandal that has rocked the Chilean church. “I know the pain resulting from cases of abuse of minors, and I am attentive to what you are doing to respond to this great and painful evil,” he said.
Gerard O’ConnellJanuary 16, 2018