Health, Labor Leaders Address Unions

After more than two years of consultations, leaders from Catholic health care, the labor movement and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops have agreed on a set of principles designed to ensure a fair process when health care workers decide whether to join a union. A 12-page document laying out the principles, titled Respecting the Just Rights of Workers: Guidance and Options for Catholic Health Care and Unions, was released on June 22. “The heart of this unusual consensus is that it’s up to workers—not bishops, hospital managers or union leaders—to decide...whether or not to be represented by a union and if so, which union, in the workplace,” said Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington and a participant in the consultations. “Because Catholic health care is a ministry, not an industry, how it treats its workers and how organized labor treats Catholic health care are not simply internal matters,” the cardinal added. The document calls on unions and employers to respect “each other’s mission and legitimacy” and to pledge not to “demean or undermine each other’s institutions, leaders, representatives, effectiveness or motives.”

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