Entries by Clayton Sinyai

Worker-friendly wage, union bills debated in Congress

Pope Leo XIII, in his 1891 Encyclical Rerum Novarum, set out some basic principles of Catholic Social Teaching in a modern economy: that every worker has the right to a living wage, and that workers have the right to organize in labor unions. There’s some modest good news on both fronts in Washington. In mid-July […]

Airline Food Service Workers across US Take Strike Votes

The workers who prepare food for flights are among the poorest paid in the airline industry. In many areas they earn little more than the minimum wage, and they can seldom afford the high premiums to participate in their employer’s health insurance plans. That’s why thousands of them have organized and joined UNITE HERE, the […]

Labor Priest Elected to AUSCP Leadership Team

In late June, hundreds of priests from across the country gathered in St. Louis for the annual meeting of the Association of US Catholic Priests (AUSCP) and elected Fr. Andy Switzer, a prominent West Virginia labor priest, to join the organization’s leadership team. Fr. Switzer introduced himself to the assembly in a speech reflecting on […]

Union Grocery Workers Picket to Protest DC Metro Store Closures

In the Baltimore-Washington area there are three union supermarket chains: Safeway, Giant, and Shoppers Food. There may soon be two, as Shoppers’ corporate parent is rapidly closing locations with little public explanation. The grocery workers, who are members of United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Locals 400 and 27, say the parent company, United Natural […]

One year after Janus

Supreme Court decision opposed by Bishops, unions impacting labor movement Last year, in a narrow 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court struck a critical blow against social solidarity in Janus v. AFSCME. The conventional practice of American labor relations holds that workers in a particular place of employment are a community with shared concerns, so they […]

Win on Wage Theft in Minnesota

The Minnesota State legislature is on track to make wage theft a felony in the North Star state, thanks to efforts by unions, community groups and support from the Minnesota State Catholic Conference. Workday Minnesota reports that The Jobs, Economic Development, and Energy omnibus budget bill will include provisions to make wage theft a felony, […]

Fight for $15 Rolls on in Connecticut

In May, Connecticut became the latest state to move toward making the minimum wage a living wage. Legislators passed a bill phasing in a $15 minimum wage by 2023. Commonweal editor Rand Richards Cooper, a Connecticut resident, reviews the debate and explains why this issue is important to Catholics in Why the Fight for Fifteen […]

Happy Birthday, Rerum Novarum!

On May 15, 1893, Pope Leo XIII issued his encyclical Rerum Novarum, ushering in modern Catholic Social Teaching. In Rerum Novarum, the Holy Father reflected on the industrial revolution and the wholesale transformation it brought, with peasant farmers and artisans who previously owned their land and shops converted wholesale into employees working for wages. He […]

Church and Labor in Las Vegas

In much of the United States, hotel and food service work is not just grueling but poorly paid. But thanks to decades of worker organizing through Culinary Workers Union Local 266 (an affiliate of UNITE HERE) tens of thousands of workers in hotels on the famous Strip and downtown enjoy family-supporting wages and benefits. The […]