Posts

The AFL-CIO and “Alt-Labor”

The AFL-CIO and “Alt-Labor”

Clayton Sinyai | Sep 11 2013 – 5:44pm | 0 comments

 

This week witnesses thousands of trade unionists and labor activists assembling in Los Angeles for the 27th Constitutional Convention of the AFL-CIO.  With union membership continuing to decline, the federation has been seeking new approaches to advocate for American workers.

The labor movement’s reach peaked in the early 1950s, when some one-third of US workers belonged to a trade union. This pinnacle was achieved under labor relations system created by the Wagner Act in 1935: workers voted in government-supervised election campaigns to decide whether they wanted collective bargaining and if so, which union would represent them. Labor and management would then negotiate a contract; the workers, now union members, would enjoy improved wages and benefits and pay dues to support their union in return. Read more

Growing the Ranks of ‘Labor Priests’

By Barbara Doherty

Growing the Ranks of ‘Labor Priests’

For as long as working people have come together for better lives and working conditions, they have relied on clergy and religious leaders to bring a spiritual dimension and moral leadership to the movement—in mines, mills, fields and factories.

Now an effort is under way to reinvigorate the ranks of “labor priests” in the Catholic Church. This new network of labor priests aims to build a contemporary home for a century-old tradition of speaking out for workers’ rights and fighting against injustice alongside workers. Read more

Labor Unions and the Church

Labor Unions and the Church

This article appeared inThe Catholic Worker, May, 2010 pages 1, 7
By Joseph J. Fahey

PDF Version of this Commentary

______________________________________________________________________

In 1949 Cardinal Francis Spellman used New York archdiocesan seminarians to break a strike by gravediggers at Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Hawthorne, N.Y. Spellman alleged that the workers had come under the influence of Communist agitators and that he was “proud” to “be a strikebreaker.” The Catholic Worker supported the strike and Dorothy Day wrote a letter to the Cardinal stating that, “Of course you know that a group of our associates at the Catholic Worker office in New York have been helping the strikers both in providing food for their families and in picketing…” Later, Dorothy lamented an “ill-advised” Spellman who “exercised so overwhelming a show of force against a handful of poor working men.”

This is not an isolated instance of union busting by Church officials in the United States and, sadly, some Catholic employers continue to harass, intimidate, and fire employees who seek to join or form unions today. In 2008, for example, the (now resigned) Bishop of Scranton busted the long standing Scranton Diocese Association of Catholic Teachers by restructuring his school system and thus refused to negotiate with the union. In addition, there are all too many examples of Catholic schools and universities and Catholic hospitals that spend large sums of money to employ “union avoidance” firms that openly brag about their stellar track records in “union prevention in the workplace.” Read more

What can the church do for worker justice in America?

What can the church do for worker justice in America?

U.S. employers routinely violate the seventh commandment when they refuse to pay their workers their legally mandated wages.

Growing up in what she describes as a “pretty conservative church background” in Ohio, Kim Bobo excelled at memorizing her Bible verses. “I won all the contests,” she remembers. “It has served me well in my life. You can’t really know the scriptures and not realize their core commitment to caring for our neighbor. My life has been about trying to figure out how I play a role in helping people and how I can do that in the most effective way possible.”

Throughout her career, which has included stints as an organizer for Bread for the World, as the “church lady” in a training center for organizers, and as the founder and director of Interfaith Worker Justice (IWJ), Bobo has consistently worked to energize faith communities in the pursuit of social justice.

She first got pulled into her current focus on workers’ rights when she helped organize religious support for the 1989-90 Pittston Coal miners’ strike. That experience planted the seed that eventually—with the help of Chicago’s legendary Msgr. Jack Egan—led to the founding of IWJ. Read more

‘Labor priests’ being trained to help immigrant, low-wage workers

LABOR-PRIESTS Jul-6-2012 (1,070 words) With photo. xxxn

‘Labor priests’ being trained to help immigrant, low-wage workers


Father J. Cletus Kiley, a priest from the Archdiocese of Chicago, is pictured in the lobby of the AFL-CIO headquarters in Washington July 5. The priest is director of immigration policy for UNITE HERE, a union for hotel, restaurant and textile workers. Father Kiley also serves on the AFL-CIO immigration committee. (CNS/Bob Roller)

By Mark Pattison
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The concept of “labor priest,” epitomized by Msgr. John Egan and Msgr. George Higgins in the 20th century, has been given a new twist to meet the realities of the 21st century.

The priests — more than two dozen of them, and all working with the approval of their diocesan bishops — are being recruited to help immigrant and low-wage workers.

The clerics met in Chicago in June with a number of mentors, speakers and labor leaders to hone their focus and to give them tools for the work ahead. Read more