US Catholic Faith in Real Life

How did the Catholic Conference of Ohio arrive at "neutral" on collective bargaining referendum?

By Catherine O'Connell-Cahill | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

On the eve of Labor Day, I can only imagine what my late father, a proud Catholic member of Chicago's Local 17, would say about the news that the Catholic Conference of Ohio (in other words, the Ohio Catholic bishops) have decided to remain neutral on the upcoming referendum about whether to save collective bargaining rights for state workers. 

Here's what the Faith in Public Life blog has to say: 

"So let me get this straight. The Catholic Church has been defending the vital role of unions since 1891, when Pope Leo XIII released Rerum Novarum, an encyclical that puts the dignity of work and labor rights at the center of Catholic social teaching. Now, during one of the most important struggles for worker justice in state history, Ohio Catholic leaders are sitting on the sideline? This is a stunning abdication of moral leadership."

We might also like to recall what Pope Benedict XVI wrote a mere two years ago in Caritas in Veritate, as quoted in U.S. Catholic's September article, "Labor pains: What Wisconsin tells us about Catholics and unions":  

“Governments, for reasons of economic utility, often limit the freedom or the negotiating capacity of labor unions. Hence traditional networks of solidarity have more and more obstacles to overcome. The repeated calls issued within the church’s social doctrine, beginning with Rerum Novarum, for the promotion of workers’ associations that can defend their rights must therefore be honored today even more than in the past.”

Last I looked, we weren't neutral on whether labor unions ought to have collective bargaining.

If our bishops want to be our moral leaders on the teaching of the church, why aren't they doing it across the board?  This decision smacks of political accommodation borne of too much coziness with one political party.