US Catholic Faith in Real Life

UPDATE: Bishops of Wisconsin: Say union YES!

By Bryan Cones | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

UPDATE: Bishop of Madison says union "meh." The bishop of Madison, Robert Morlino, has written a column saying more or less that he, along with the Wisconsin Catholic Conference, is "neutral" on the situation unfolding in Madison. Sorry, bishop, I don't see how you can read Catholic social teaching and be "neutral" on the rights of workers to organize and collectively bargain. Thumbs down.

Social justice is not usually my bailiwick, but this stuff in Wisconsin is just crazy, and I think the bishops of Wisconsin should get on the stick. While the new GOP governor of that state and the GOP-controlled legislature are union-busting--threatening to strip public employee unions of collective bargaining rights--the best the archbishop of Milwaukee can do is a tepid statement quoting Popes Benedict and John Paul II on the right to unionize.

This is the time when the bishop, priests, and Catholics should be out there on the front lines with workers (and if it was about gay marriage or school vouchers, I'll bet they would be). Driving a hard collective bargain is one thing; stripping the right to collective bargaining is a gross injustice and profoundly contrary to Catholic social teaching, heck, to human dignity.

I'm sure I'll be harangued with how Catholic social teaching is optional and it's totally OK to ride rough-shod over those "socialist" unions, but it ain't so. Unions may have their faults, as any human institution does, but they are nevertheless one of the few defenders of workers rights left. Indeed, I find it totally ironic that the oligarchs and plutocrats have successfully argued that corporations (owners' collectives) have all the First Amendment rights of individuals, and yet they are doing their best to make sure that workers can’t speak collectively.

Catholic teaching is for unions, period. And we need them now more than ever.