Peace & Justice

This is the blog of the Commission on Peace and Justice for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, New York.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Labor and Unions

The Catholic Church has a well-documented tradition on labor and unions, rooted in the human right of association. This is highlighted in a new publication from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which excerpts passages that highlight this tradition.

While the document is not comprehensive, it does include links to the complete text of a cited document. Some examples from the publication, which is available here:
Through the combination of social and economic change, trade union organizations experience greater difficulty in carrying out their task of representing the interests of workers, partly because Governments, for reasons of economic utility, often limit the freedom or the negotiating capacity of labor unions. . . . 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, as a prompt and far-sighted response to the urgent need for new forms of cooperation at the international level, as well as the local level. (no. 25)
- Charity in Truth (Caritas in Veritate) Pope Benedict XVI, 2009

Furthermore, society and the State must ensure wage levels adequate for the maintenance of the worker and his family, including a certain amount for savings. This requires a continuous effort to improve workers' training and capability so that their work will be more skilled and productive, as well as careful controls and adequate legislative measures to block shameful forms of exploitation, especially to the disadvantage of the most vulnerable workers, of immigrants and of those on the margins of society. The role of trade unions in negotiating minimum salaries and working conditions is decisive in this area. (no. 15)
- The Hundredth Year (Centesimus Annus) Pope John Paul II, 1991

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