Catholic Employer Project

Among the basic rights of the human person is to be numbered the right of freely founding unions for working people. These should be able truly to represent them and to contribute to the organizing of economic life in the right way. Included is the right of freely taking part in the activity of these unions without risk of reprisal.

Gaudium et Spes, Pastoral Constitution on the Church and the Modern World (1965)


On the parish and diocesan level, through its agencies and institutions, the Church employs many people; it has investments; it has extensive properties for worship and mission. All the moral principles that govern the just operation of any economic endeavor apply to the Church and its agencies and institutions; indeed the Church should be exemplary.

US Catholic Bishops, Economic Justice For All: Pastoral Letter on Catholic Social Teaching and the U.S. Economy (1986)


Catholic social teaching endorses the right of workers to form labor unions and calls upon labor and management to establish cooperative relationships to advance their craft and the common good. When Catholic institutions and trade unions establish mutually rewarding partnerships, they exercise a true magisterium in deed as well as in word; when Catholic schools and hospitals are embroiled in conflict and recriminations with their workers they stand the risk of giving scandal to the faithful.

The Catholic Employer Project tracks labor relations at Catholic institutions across the United States. The CLN is pleased to report that we have identified well over 200 Catholic institutions in the United States modeling Catholic social teaching through collaborative, mutually rewarding relations of collective bargaining with their direct and indirect (contract) employees – and this list is hardly exhaustive! But truth requires that we also acknowledge that a relative handful of Catholic schools and hospitals are embroiled in labor disputes.

• Gaudium et Spes: Catholic Institutions with collective bargaining relationships
• Luctus et Angor: Catholic Institutions in labor disputes

The Catholic Employer Project produces a monthly bulletin on labor relations developments involving Catholic institutions.

To subscribe, contact clayton@catholiclabor.org.