Words of popes resonate in talk on economy, unions

Words of popes resonate in talk on economy, unions

By Mark Pattison Catholic News Service | 0 | Print | Share
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WASHINGTON (CNS) — Even before he announced his resignation, the words of Pope Benedict XVI were cited to crystallize the unease many feel about the U.S. economy.

There is “a direct link between poverty and unemployment,” the pontiff said in his 2009 encyclical “Caritas in Veritate.”

Quoting the pope was Tom Mulloy, a domestic policy adviser to the U.S. bishops’ Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development.

Addressing the Catholic Labor Network at its Feb. 9 meeting held in conjunction with the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering in Washington — two days before the pope’s resignation — Mulloy also quoted Pope Benedict’s predecessor, Blessed John Paul II, in his 1981 encyclical “Laborem Exercens”: “Labor is the essential key to the social question.”

“If you think that if you cut the budget and slash the deficit, some kind of miracle happens and everyone goes back to work, it doesn’t happen that way,” Mulloy said.

He added, “I don’t have a lot of good news” to report on labor and economic trends.

With the poverty line set at $28,000 for a family of four, one-third of the country lives “in or near poverty,” with household incomes of $56,000 or less. One-fourth of all children currently live in poverty. “We’re really failing our children,” Mulloy said.

Health care “is one of the most important pieces to poverty,” he added. “Where do we get our health care? Most of us get it through our jobs — our jobs or some kind of government system” such as Medicare, Medicaid or the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, Mulloy said.

But one must be employed to get health care from an employer. With the unemployment rate at 7.9 percent, and another 14 percent underemployed — meaning they would work full time but cannot find a full-time job — the prospects for getting coverage are meager, according to Mulloy.

What’s more, he added, employers are shaving the workweek of their workforce so that they no longer meet the 30-hours-a-week threshold set for automatic employer coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

The outlook is not likely to change soon, Mulloy said, with 12 million unemployed Americans and only 3.7 million job openings, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers.

Currently, unemployed Americans don’t find another job for 40 weeks after losing their previous job. “And with each passing week, their chances of reemployment grow more and more dim,” Mulloy said.

SNAP — Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, once known as food stamps – “is an important, unemployment-fighting tool, and these things are under attack” in Congress, he said.

Labor unions, which have historically fought for better wages, benefits and working conditions have themselves been weakened by declining numbers. Mulloy put the figures at 11 percent of U.S. workers represented by unions, and only 6.6 percent of the private-sector workforce.

“That’s what labor’s fighting for, to keep the safety net intact,” Mulloy said. Labor is reduced to talking about the safety net, he added, because Congress has not talked about jobs. In the meantime, he noted, there “a lot of children with no job opportunity, a lot of people with no retirement security.”

Copyright (c) 2013 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

– See more at: http://www.uscatholic.org/news/201302/words-popes-resonate-talk-economy-unions-26905#sthash.Kf9rnyoC.dpuf

Words of popes resonate in talk on economy, unions

By Mark Pattison Catholic News Service | 0 | Print | Share
News

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Even before he announced his resignation, the words of Pope Benedict XVI were cited to crystallize the unease many feel about the U.S. economy.

There is “a direct link between poverty and unemployment,” the pontiff said in his 2009 encyclical “Caritas in Veritate.”

Quoting the pope was Tom Mulloy, a domestic policy adviser to the U.S. bishops’ Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development.

Addressing the Catholic Labor Network at its Feb. 9 meeting held in conjunction with the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering in Washington — two days before the pope’s resignation — Mulloy also quoted Pope Benedict’s predecessor, Blessed John Paul II, in his 1981 encyclical “Laborem Exercens”: “Labor is the essential key to the social question.”

“If you think that if you cut the budget and slash the deficit, some kind of miracle happens and everyone goes back to work, it doesn’t happen that way,” Mulloy said.

He added, “I don’t have a lot of good news” to report on labor and economic trends.

With the poverty line set at $28,000 for a family of four, one-third of the country lives “in or near poverty,” with household incomes of $56,000 or less. One-fourth of all children currently live in poverty. “We’re really failing our children,” Mulloy said.

Health care “is one of the most important pieces to poverty,” he added. “Where do we get our health care? Most of us get it through our jobs — our jobs or some kind of government system” such as Medicare, Medicaid or the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, Mulloy said.

But one must be employed to get health care from an employer. With the unemployment rate at 7.9 percent, and another 14 percent underemployed — meaning they would work full time but cannot find a full-time job — the prospects for getting coverage are meager, according to Mulloy.

What’s more, he added, employers are shaving the workweek of their workforce so that they no longer meet the 30-hours-a-week threshold set for automatic employer coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

The outlook is not likely to change soon, Mulloy said, with 12 million unemployed Americans and only 3.7 million job openings, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers.

Currently, unemployed Americans don’t find another job for 40 weeks after losing their previous job. “And with each passing week, their chances of reemployment grow more and more dim,” Mulloy said.

SNAP — Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, once known as food stamps – “is an important, unemployment-fighting tool, and these things are under attack” in Congress, he said.

Labor unions, which have historically fought for better wages, benefits and working conditions have themselves been weakened by declining numbers. Mulloy put the figures at 11 percent of U.S. workers represented by unions, and only 6.6 percent of the private-sector workforce.

“That’s what labor’s fighting for, to keep the safety net intact,” Mulloy said. Labor is reduced to talking about the safety net, he added, because Congress has not talked about jobs. In the meantime, he noted, there “a lot of children with no job opportunity, a lot of people with no retirement security.”

Copyright (c) 2013 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

– See more at: http://www.uscatholic.org/news/201302/words-popes-resonate-talk-economy-unions-26905#sthash.Kf9rnyoC.dpuf

 

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