Since last November, anti-labor politicians have made a concerted effort to bring “right-to-work” laws to new areas of the country – laws that aim to weaken unions by allowing individual workers to “opt-out” of paying dues after the majority has voted for a union. Despite heroic efforts by workers in Kentucky and Missouri, right-to-work has become law in both states. Things looked grim in New Hampshire as well, but in then end Granite State legislators rejected the proposal. Meanwhile, union workers in Missouri are gathering signatures for a referendum, hoping to overturn the legislature’s action.
Still, legislators in relative union strongholds like Pennsylvania and Oregon are filing similar anti-labor legislation, and in the US Congress Reps. Steve King (IA) and Joe Wilson (SC) are pushing a National Right to Work Act. If Catholics – in the unions, in the pews, and in the chanceries – do not stand up and testify for their values, our nation will soon have a much-diminished labor movement to defend the rights and welfare of American workers.
As Lexington’s Bishop John Stowe observed during the Kentucky legislative debate,
In Catholic teaching, unions are described as an indispensable element of social life. Unions are to promote solidarity among workers. They are essential for economic justice and to protect the rights of workers… The weakening of unions by so-called “right to work” laws, has been shown to reduce wages and benefits overall in the states where such laws have been enacted. This cannot be seen as contributing to the common good.