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Labor Day Statement 2013

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Labor Day Statement 2013

Bishop Stephen E. Blaire, Bishop of Stockton
Chairman, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
September 2, 2013

Every human being enjoys a basic right to be respected, not because of any title, position, prestige, or accomplishment but first of all because we are created in the image and likeness of God. From an ethical and moral perspective we embrace the exhortation of St. Paul “to anticipate one another in showing honor” (Rom 12:10). Today’s competitive culture challenges us to strive for victory and advantage, but for St. Paul the challenge is to build each other up and honor one another’s innate dignity.

Labor Day is an opportunity to take stock of the ways workers are honored and respected. Earlier this year, Pope Francis pointed out, “Work is fundamental to the dignity of a person. . . . It gives one the ability to maintain oneself, one’s family, to contribute to the growth of one’s own nation.” Unfortunately, millions of workers today are denied this honor and respect as a result of unemployment, underemployment, unjust wages, wage theft, abuse, and exploitation. Read more

Labor Day: A Spirituality of Work

“Work,” the Persian poet Gibran writes, “is love made visible.”

A spirituality of work is based on a heightened sense of sacramentality, of the idea that everything that is, is holy and that our hands consecrate it to the service of God. When we grow radishes in a small container in a city apartment, we participate in creation. When we sweep the street in front of a house, we bring new order to the universe. When we repair what has been broken or paint what is old or give away what we have earned that is above and beyond our own sustenance, we stoop down and scoop up the earth and breathe into it new life again. When we compost garbage and recycle cans, when we clean a room and put coasters under glasses, when we care for everything we touch and touch it reverently, we become the creators of a new universe. Then we sanctify our work and our work sanctifies us. Read more

Labor Day 2013: “All together to promote justice and human dignity”

Labor Day 2013: “All together to promote justice and human dignity”

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Labor Day has been celebrated for 123 years as a sign of solidarity with all workers around the world.  Are we finally reaching a world centered on the human person rather than a world of work centered on capital and mechanization?

The 2004-2005 report from the International Labor Office (ILO) gives terrible statistics:  of the approximately two billion eight hundred and fifty million workers in the world 49% earn less than 2 Dollars a day and, of these, 39% less than one dollar!  Two hundred million men and women are unemployed! Today poverty has worsened throughout the world.  According to an OECD report 60% of men and women workers in the world do not have a proper contract and are exposed to job insecurity.

Last year many labor disputes occurred throughout the world.  In Asia, the Philippines, Taiwan and in Indonesia workers gathered to demand wage increases.  In Tunisia, Egypt and the Middle East they called for economic reforms and measurements for employment.  In New  York and in London, in the midst of an unprecedented financial crisis, they occupied the financial centers of Wall Street and the City to oppose the power of money. Read more