On labor issues, bishops say one thing, do another
Jun. 26, 2009
By Rita C. Schwartz
National Catholic Reporter
On June 22, 2009, “Respecting the Just Right of Workers: Guidance and Options for Catholic Health Care and Unions” was released by a Coalition consisting of the AFL-CIO, SEIU International, Catholic Health Association and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The National association of Catholic School Teachers, a national union representing teachers in Catholic elementary and secondary schools, takes issue with the members of the Bishops’ Conference because of their negligence in the application of Catholic social teaching when their fellow bishops are involved, especially in regard to employees most directly under the bishops’ control, in particular, Catholic school teachers.
In the foreword to “Respecting the Just Rights of Workers,” Bishop William Murphy talks about the ten year dialogue exploring “how Catholic social teaching should shape the actions of unions, management and others in assuring workers a free and fair choice on questions of representation in the workplace.” What follows is a blueprint to be followed by management and labor in Catholic Health Care institutions to ensure a process that is “free, fair and respectful.”
Throughout the document, the U.S. Bishops are making clear to Catholic healthcare employers that a worker’s right to unionize is “a fundamental principle of social justice recognized by the church.”
This is the latest social justice document of the U.S. Bishops that all but sky writes DO AS WE SAY, NOT AS WE DO. Where were the bishops when Cardinal Sean O’Malley cut the archdiocesan high school system into individual units and discarded the 30 year history of union recognition and negotiated contracts, making the teachers employees at will?