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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

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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

Women’s Spirituality in the Workplace (Part 2)

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Women’s Spirituality in the Workplace (Part 2)

A Compilation of Reports from Diocesan Focus Groups
(Spring, 2003 – Spring, 2004)

Background

In late 2002 and early 2003, at the invitation of the Bishops’ Committee on Women in Society and in the Church, 17 arch/dioceses conducted focus groups on the topic of women’s spirituality in the workplace. The Committee provided a template with questions on spirituality and work. Each arch/diocese submitted a report to the Women’s Committee. The Committee compiled a summary report which is available at www.usccb.org/laity/women.shtml.

Because of the success of these initial focus groups, the Committee invited additional arch/dioceses to participate in the project. Between the spring of 2003 and spring of 2004, an additional 19 arch/dioceses sponsored focus groups (St. Paul and Minneapolis also participated in the first round). These arch/dioceses, and the number of focus group participants, are: Austin (11), Brooklyn (61), Galveston-Houston (21), Grand Rapids (19), Honolulu (number not given), Joliet (20), Lexington (number not given), Metuchen (16), Milwaukee (39), New Orleans (7), New Ulm (7), Omaha (100+), Philadelphia (14), Rockford (61), Rockville Centre (40), St. Cloud (252 women responded to a questionnaire, an unspecified number participated in focus groups), St. Paul-Minneapolis (24), San Angelo (32), San Bernardino (8), and Superior (7). More than 500 women participated in these focus groups. Read more

Women’s Spirituality in the Workplace

Women’s Spirituality in the Workplace

A Compilation of Diocesan Focus Group Reports

Background

In 2002 the Bishops’ Committee on Women in Society and in the Church embarked on a project to explore the relationship between women’s spirituality and their employment outside the home. As a first step, the Committee invited dioceses to convene focus groups on the topic. The Committee provided a suggested template and asked women to discuss such questions as: What do you find satisfying and frustrating about work? How do you balance home and work responsibilities, and how do you fit in volunteer activities? How do you make time for spiritual activities? Does your spirituality affect your work, and vice versa?

A cross-section of arch/dioceses—large, medium, and small, rural and urban, from all parts of the country—accepted the Committee’s invitation to hold focus groups. The groups were conducted over a two-month period, from late November, 2002 until late January, 2003. Each diocese submitted a written report to the Committee. This report is a summary of the diocesan reports.

Reports were received from the following 17 arch/dioceses (number of focus group participants in parentheses): Albany (9), Allentown (54), Biloxi (27), Buffalo (10), Chicago (22), Detroit (7), Gary (26), Jackson, MS (6), Las Vegas (17), Marquette, MI (29), Newark (8), Orange (8), Richmond (5), Saginaw (28), St. Paul and Minneapolis (9), San Bernardino (11), and Youngstown (16). A total of 292 women took part in these focus groups. Read more