Big Tech

The Working Catholic: Big Tech by Bill Droel

The popular use of a term sometimes differs from its original use. Such is the case with Luddite, which now usually refers to someone who fiercely opposes most technology. Blood in the Machine by Brain Merchant (Little Brown, 2023) takes us back to the term’s origin: the Luddite Movement in England from 1811 to 1816.
Textile workers were opposed to certain types of automated machines, not wholesale opposition to all technology. They also believed that employers deceived them about manufacturing changes. The workers damaged some factory machines, but eventually lost their battle when military force was used against them.
In our day, some tech companies warrant resistance over their treatment of employees and consumers. Those companies include the social media–Meta (Facebook), Tik Tok, and X (Twitter) and others. Plus, the big tech retail giant Amazon and probably the app-based delivery/rider companies.
The harmful side effects of these companies derive from their operating philosophy, as summarized by Adrienne LaFrance in “The Despots of Silicon Valley” for The Atlantic (3/24). The authoritarian titans of tech are dangerous, she writes. They believe “that technological progress of any kind is unreservedly and inherently good; that you should always build it, simply because you can; that frictionless information flow is the highest value regardless of the information’s quality; that privacy is an archaic concept…[and that] the power [of tech experts] should be unconstrained.”
LaFrance continues: The tech giants “promise community but sow division; claim to champion truth but spread lies; wrap themselves in concepts such as empowerment and liberty but surveil us relentlessly.”
Our Congress is concerned about the side effects of big tech. Both House and Senate routinely summon one or another tech executive to address those concerns. Those hearings are perhaps a modest start. Collective and individual action on the part of the public is urgently needed. A few groups are on the case. For example, Collective Action in Tech ( maintains a list of organizing efforts among employees in the big tech sector. Mothers Unite to Stall Technology ( advises parents on the harmful effects of mobile devices and more. (Ironically, these citizen efforts rely on tech platforms to spread their ideas and this column appears on a website.)
Citizens should keep basic principles in mind. First, as Jacques Ellul (1912-1994) warns us, all technology individuates. Contrary to the propaganda of the social media platforms, communication through mobile devices puts users further apart. One’s so-called friends on Facebook are likely not genuine friends unless honest and vulnerable face-to-face contact also occurs. Second, as Marshall McLuhan preaches, “the medium is the message.” That is, the content is less relevant than the hardware (the device itself, the satellite and the earthbound transmitters and cables). Merely having a TV in one’s home changes the household environment, no matter the content of one or another TV show. A mobile device in one’s pocket changes one’s outlook, no matter who is texting whom.
These principles and others should, by the way, cause reflection on the part of church leaders—particularly those in liturgical denominations. For example, a camera inside a church in itself makes the worship a little bit more entertainment and a little less participatory liturgy. Say it this way: There is no such thing as reality TV or reality streaming. The image from a camera signal sent up to a satellite and back down to a TV, a computer or a mobile device is not reality. It is a projection, and it necessarily individuates. Be honest: Do you drink coffee or surf channels while watching TV Mass?
Droel is the author of Public Friendship (National Center for the Laity, PO Box 291102, Chicago, IL 60629; $6)

Workers at Jose Andres Restaurant Win Voluntary Recognition for Union

By Mark Pattison for the Catholic Labor Network

What a wonderful world it would be if Catholic employers lived by their church’s social teaching, and not just on Sundays.

For an example of what that would be like, you need look no further than Bazaar, the new Jose Andres Group restaurant residing in the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in downtown Washington.

In January, the 100 or so workers sought voluntary recognition of their union, UNITE HERE Local 25, from the Jose Andres Group. And in early February, voluntary recognition was granted.

Therefore, no union campaign, no anti-union employer campaign, no NLRB election, and no lingering resentments – just for starters.

UNITE HERE Local 25 represents the other workers at the Waldorf Astoria.

Andres is a Catholic – a faithful, practicing Catholic Read more

Boston Labor Guild Brings Together Labor, Management

By Mark Pattison for the Catholic Labor Network

It’s not every day that you see a labor guild of any type, much less one that accepts managers – and even lawyers – as members.

Ladies and gentlemen, meet the Boston Labor Guild.

“The Labor Guild is actually a neutral organization,” says Lisa Field, the Guild’s president and board chair. “We promote and foster good labor-management relations, and we honor both sides for that. We applaud management who follow the collective bargaining agreement and who honor the collective bargaining process.”

Field, a Catholic, is associate director in the legislative division of the Massachusetts Nurses Association. But as an AFSCME member, she was a steward — then president — of a local in public higher education. “The Labor Guild ran our elections,” said, adding, “Many of our members attended labor school at the Labor Guild.”

The Labor Guild also has a fundraising awards dinner named after both Cardinal Richard Cushing of Boston, who headed the archdiocese in the 1940s when the guild was founded, and Fr. Mort Gavin, a guild chaplain and one of two Jesuit priests who were instrumental in furthering the guild.

At each dinner, four people are honored, according to Field. “One comes from labor, one comes from management,” she said. “One is an attorney,” and that prize alternates annually between labor and management, “and the fourth person is an auxiliary – a neutral.”

Field added, “We promote and foster good labor-management relations, and we honor both sides for that. We applaud management who follow the collective bargaining agreement, who honor the collective bargaining process.”

What the Boston Labor Guild is most known for, though, is its labor school.

“The Labor Guild has always been there for the working people through its school,” said Paul McCarthy, who has served continuously on its board for 47 years, although he plans to step down later in 2024. “From its ranks of students, numerous ones went on to become leaders in their right, both at the local level and the national level. It’s won a lot of national leaders.”

McCarthy likes to include current Teamsters president Sean O’Brien among that group. “He’s a Boston-area guy, a Medford guy,” he said.

While the Labor Guild’s purpose is worker education, “these are leadership skills that are being taught,” McCarthy said. “We have moved ahead by utilizing Zoom formats. We are now reaching a nationwide catchment area of people who are interested in Labor Guild programs.

“I’ll be teaching my negotiations workshop this term. And, God willing, I’ll be teaching my conflict resolution workshop in the fall. We have a tremendous array of wonderful teachers,” all of whom volunteer their time, he added.

Field teaches a class on “burning issues” in the labor movement. “It’s whatever‘s hot at the moment. I’ve had the UPS strike, privatization. I’ve had people from the Women’s Bureau from the (U.S.) Dept. of Labor come in and talk about issues, health and safety,” she said.

Beyond this form of education, the Labor Guild conducts workshops on worker rights and workers that are not in a union, to cite two examples.

“We work a lot with workers’ centers. We provide some training and give some support. We also work locally with Boston Building Pathways Program, which is a pre-apprenticeship program,” Field said.

The Guild also seeks out members of the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, people of color) community to get them into apprenticeship programs in the trades. The Guild’s program “gives them some knowledge into math in the trades, making sure they have some basic literacy to be successful in the trades. And to let them know the different jobs in the trades – and provide them some leadership training as well,” Field said. When they graduate from the program, it gives them the best possible exposure – so they know what they’re getting into.”

The Labor Guild has been on the move – literally. As the Boston area becomes more attractive, hitherto vacant Catholic properties that the Guild made its home have been sold to developers. The Guild’s current home for the past six years is the Archdiocese of Boston’s pastoral center. Field sees this as a plus.

“It helps ground us in our Catholic foundation, a social justice Catholic foundation,” she said. “I think it accentuates the fact that we are a neutral. We do provide meeting space. Some of the contracts that are up, they’ll come and rent out space from us, and they’ll do their collective bargaining at the pastoral center. It’s a positive that it’s seen as a neutral space.”

“Our office space is on the top floor right down the hall from the cardinal, Cardinal (Sean) O’Malley. Saving grace,” McCarthy said. “The saving grace is the labor movement itself.”



Brewing at Starbucks

The Working Catholic: No Contract, Yet by Bill Droel

In recent times employees for some well-known companies have voted for a union at their store or warehouse. These apparent employee victories do not, however, signal improved labor relations in our country.
It is difficult for employees to achieve a pro-union vote. The parent company retains union-busting lawyers and consultants who, in round one, teach executives and branch managers how to disrupt an organizing effort by making side promises to a few quiet workers, discrediting the leaders, telling the public that costs will increase and more.
In round two (after a pro-union vote) the local manager might continue to intimidate employees with threats of layoffs and decreased benefits. Meanwhile the company challenges the vote. When the company loses its challenge, it proceeds to appeal the decision. More months go by.
In round three the paid negotiators for the company move “with spectacular slowness,” reports Steven Greenhouse for The New Republic (2/24). They pick an out-of-state meeting place. They ridicule the thoughts of the unpaid employee team. They take long lunches and often break-off negotiations for weeks or months at a time. The goal is to wear down the employee team and to discourage their fellow workers.
It was December 2021 when baristas at a Starbucks in Buffalo voted for the first-ever union at that company, Starbucks Workers United (2495 Main St. #556, Buffalo, NY 14214; There is no contract as yet in Buffalo. About 30% of newly formed unions have no contract even after three years, Greenhouse details.
Why does Starbucks invest in expensive union-busting lawyers and consultants over one, small outlet near Lake Erie? “Because reaching a good contract will obviously provide enormous incentives for workers in their nonunion stores to organize,” Greenhouse explains. Yet knowing of the delays in Buffalo, baristas in 385 Starbucks shops around the country have recently voted for a union. By the way, Starbucks can afford its lawyers. Its cash registers ring up more than $30billion per year. Profit is up less than Starbucks would like—an increase of about only $2.6billion per annum. Starbucks says its slow profit performance is due to the raises it gives employees. (Those raises can be interpreted as another tactic to stare off unions.)
Howard Schultz served as CEO of Starbucks for 14 years, retiring in 2000. He came back for nine more years at the helm. After a second retirement, he came back once again for two more years, leaving the position in April 2023. Schultz has a net worth of about $5billion. He owns about 2% of Starbucks.
Schultz is a prominent neoliberal. He is big on individual free choice, though free choice doesn’t seem to include choosing a union. “I was convinced that under my leadership, employees would come to realize that I would listen to their concerns. If they had faith in me and my motives, they wouldn’t need a union,” Schultz says.
Among its presumptions, the neoliberal “ideology holds that both parties to an employment contract hold equal power and can easily walk away,” writes Anthony Annett for Commonweal (1/24). The presumption assumes that “if a worker feels mistreated, she can always quit and find another job.”
Catholicism values freedom, but “the notion that employers and employees enjoy equal power” is nonsense, Annett writes. He provides references. For example, Pope Leo XIII (1810-1903) explains the principle of a just wage and notes that if through necessity or fear of a worse evil, an employee accepts harder conditions because an employer or contractor will give no better, the worker is a victim of force and injustice. (On the Condition of Workers #34, 1891)
Our 2024 Catholic Compendium of the Social Doctrine puts it thus: “The simple agreement between employee and employer with regard to the amount of pay to be received is not sufficient for the agreed upon salary to qualify as a just wage.” In Annett’s words, “Mutual consent alone does not guarantee a fair contract.”
What can be done to make organizing and negotiating at Starbucks and other places efficient and just? Some suggest that the technicality of organizing store-by-store give way to a company-wide vote on a union. Catholicism proposes the industry council plan (what in Germany is called co-determinism) in which a quasi-legal body of representatives of executives, employees, consumers and government set some sector-wide standards. Another idea is currently banging around our Congress. The PRO Act (Protecting the Right to Organize), among its reforms, might include a penalty for employers who unnecessarily stall negations with a new union. The bill was first introduced and passed in the House in May 2020. Its latest version (HR #20), introduced in February 2023, awaits proper voting.
Readers of this column might sign a pledge of solidarity on the website of Starbucks United ( And why not freely choose another coffee shop until Starbucks acts in good faith?
Droel edits INITIATIVES (PO Box 291102, Chicago, IL 60629), a free newsletter on faith and work.

L.A. Hotel Workers Rework ‘Las Posadas’ amid Strike Threats

By Mark Pattison for the Catholic Labor Network


Thousands of workers at two dozen hotels in the Los Angeles area won contracts by the end of 2023 as UNITE HERE Local 11 has waged a campaign since April to win improved pay and benefits for union members – but thousands more are still waiting for an agreement.

Eréndira Salcedo, a housekeeper at the Hilton Pasadena and a UNITE HERE shop steward, is one of those workers. She’s one of 15,000 hotel workers represented by the local.

“The salary has been a main issue because we are not paid enough to live,” Salcedo, a native of Michoacan state in Mexico, said through an interpreter. “What we’ve also been fighting for is health insurance, a pension fund when we retire, and opportunities for growth.”

To prepare for a strike, UNITE HERE members at the Hilton Pasadena walked out four different times, for shorter durations. They also brought attention to their situation to the larger community by giving a new twist to “las posadas,” a nine-day devotion popular for centuries among Latin Americans that re-enacts Joseph and Mary’s quest to find an inn where the Christ Child could be born.

The hotel workers didn’t need nine evenings to make their point. Instead of selecting houses to play the role of inns, “we made different stations. The Hilton Pasadena was the first place, the Hyatt Place Pasadena and then at City Hall,” Salcedo said. She served as a reader at the Hilton.

“We were working on Colorado Avenue. It’s the main thoroughfare in Pasadena where we were doing the procession,” she added.

“It was an experience like no other. We thought it was relevant. We were looking for peace in our homes, and it was an experience that brought us and our coworkers together.”

Community support is tangible. “People come out, sometimes they bring us water, they bring us burritos. We appreciate people from outside the union who have shown their support,” Salcedo said.

While UNITE HERE urges would-be hotel guests to cancel their reservations if they find that their hotel has been struck – some hotels are using an app to recruit scabs – hotel chains are actually operating fewer of the hotels that bear their name, and make their money licensing their brand name. The Hilton Pasadena, for instance, is operated by a company called Aimbridge Hospitality.

Salcedo believes the workers’ actions will ultimately convince Aimbridge to come to terms. “Yes, of course. Claro que si. I have total faith that they’re getting close,” she said. “I hope this will push the company to finally sign a contract.

Workers at the Hilton Pasadena went on strike for the fifth time on New Year’s Eve, just in time to throw the hotel into chaos on the eve of the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day, one of college football’s premier events. Like the previous four walkouts, it’s a short-term strike, but nobody was saying how long they intended to stay out.

“A lot of the guests, once they go back in,” Salcedo said, “have been very supportive. I believe that we’re fighting for our rights, and that we’re entitled to those rights.”

Remembering Seafarers International Union President Michael Sacco

Courtesy of Fr. Sinclair Oubre, CLN Spiritual Moderator

On Friday, December 29, 2023, the news spread quickly through the United States Maritime community that one of the elders of maritime labor had died the previous day in St. Louis, Missouri, surrounded by his family, after a short illness.

In the wake of Michael Sacco’s passing, national and international labor leaders praised him for his lifelong service to working men and women, especially the unlicensed merchant marine community in the United States and Canada. Here are a few links to some of the statements:

•    AFL-CIO Liz Shuler:
•    The International Transportation Workers’ Federation:
•    American Maritime Officers:

These labor leaders and many others speak of the commitment and the accomplishments of Mike over the 65 years of his union service. They shared about Mike’s service to the rank-and-file members of the Seafarers International Union (SIU).

I have been a member of the SIU for 33 years, having joined in 1990. I worked as an ordinary seaman and as an able bodied seaman. Over these years, I had many opportunities to know and work with Mike. I  met him annually at the New York Admiral of the Ocean Seas Gala. These meetings were always times to renew our friendship, and to catch up with each other’s lives.

There are two things that I will share about Mike that will probably not be picked up in the many public statements.

First, Mike was the most important maritime labor leader in the country. What makes this so significant is that he was the leader of the biggest unlicensed maritime union in the United States. Where leadership often migrates to those who have degrees and hold leadership positions, Mike was unique in that he was the undisputed leader of the maritime unions, and where the led, the other unions followed.

Mike was able to overcome the typical hierarchical social structure that so dominates our institutions, and through his efforts, as Mary proclaims in the Magnificat, he “. . . lifted up the lowly.” Specifically, he lifted up the ordinary seaman, the wiper, and the messman with good contracts and training opportunities.

Second, Mike was not a nominal Catholic. Rather, he was an every-Sunday-go-to-Mass Catholic.

Back in 1996, I was privileged to attend an International Transportation Workers’ Federation meeting in Latvia. John Fay, who at that time was the Secretary Treasurer of the SIU, shared with me that wherever he and Mike were, they always attended Mass on Sundays.

John died in 2005, and I was fortunate to be doing my basic safety training at the Harry Lundeberg School of Seamanship at Piney Point, Maryland. I stayed over a couple of days so that I could preside at the funeral. However, over all these years, I still recall John strong affirmation of Mike’s Catholic faith.

Mike retired in February of 2023. The union is in good hands Dave Heindel, and Dave is continuing the SIU tradition of advocating and defending merchant mariners from the United States and Canada, but also mariners who work on flag-of-convenience vessels calling in our country.

For our CLN priests, I ask that you say a Mass for the repose of Mike’s soul and for his family in this time of mourning. For our lay CLN members, I ask that you pray a special rosary or attend a Mass, and offer it up for Mike and his family, and in both cases, lift up a special petition to Mike that he may intercede with his prayers for the needs of all the men and women who sail the seas.


What’s the Problem at Ascension Health?

One of the things we do at the Catholic Labor Network is monitoring labor relations at Catholic institutions. There’s a reason for this. Church doctrine teaches that workers have the right to organize in unions to engage in collective bargaining, but who’s going to listen to us if Catholic institutions don’t respect that teaching with their own employees?

With some 140 hospitals, as well as numerous nursing homes and other medical facilities, Ascension Health is one of the largest Catholic health care systems in the United States. But labor disputes have repeatedly put Ascension in the news over the past few years.

In Spring 2022, Ascension Health came to the attention of the Catholic Labor Network when nursing home workers represented by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) struck an Ascension-owned nursing home. It turned out that while Catholic Social Teaching calls for every worker to receive a living wage, many of these workers were earning the legal minimum.

But nursing home workers were hardly the only ones upset with their employer. Concerned about understaffing, nurses at a series of Ascension hospitals began to organize with National Nurses United. In late 2022 it happened at Ascension Seton in Austin, Texas. Soon thereafter it was a couple of hospitals in Wichita, Kansas, Ascension Via Christi and Ascension Via St. Joseph. More recently, nurses at Ascension St. Agnes hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, followed suit.

In each case, hospital management pulled its response from the for-profit corporate playbook rather than Catholic Social Teaching. They hired expensive “union avoidance” consultants to try and prevent their nurses from organizing, sometimes using unlawful tactics and ending up in front of the National Labor Relations Board facing Unfair Labor Practice charges.

The next step in the corporate playbook is usually to drag out negotiations for a first contract as long as possible to see if the workers lose interest. That seems to be what is happening now: workers have yet to extract a contract from Ascension at any of the four newly organized hospitals. The nurses are not losing interest, but they are losing patience. Nurses at the Texas and Kansas hospitals walked out on a short strike in early December.

There is a Catholic model for labor relations, and this is not it. The holy season of Christmas would be a wonderful time for Ascension’s corporate leadership to shake off their Wall Street values and lean into its Catholic Identity with a new approach to their workforce.

Race Relations

The Working Catholic: Race Relations by Bill Droel

Efforts these days to improve race relations are of related types. There is virtue signaling, as in ubiquitous TV ads featuring a mixed-race couple or the obligatory progressive statements from businesses and national religious denominations. There is social therapy, as when church-sponsored groups examine and then admit to their racism. Thirdly, justifiable racial grievances are expressed through marches and rallies that unfortunately lack any specific goal.

Saul Alinsky (1909-1972), considered the dean of community organizing, was known for his confrontational yet non-violent tactics, his sharp-edged comments and his exaggerated personality. Alinsky was a person of “keen sociological imagination” and “thoughtful action,” as Mark Santow details in Saul Alinsky and the Dilemmas of Race (University of Chicago Press, 2023).  Alinsky never wavered from a commitment to equal dignity, regardless of race or ethnicity. Yet he was not ideological. He did not crusade for integration per se. He believed that if people have confidence in their own agency and in the democratic process, they will usually make better choices and support true pluralism. The problem, as Alinsky saw it, was the lack of power at the local level. There were too few viable mediating institutions through which people could effectively engage others. Thus, Alinsky dedicated his career to forming peoples’ organizations.

In 1938 Alinsky (then 29-years old) left his job at a university institute to, with Joseph Meegan (1912-1994), organize Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council ( in Chicago’s stockyards area. This is the first of Santow’s case studies. BNYC had a promising beginning. However, BYNC feared a possible influx of Black residents. The declining stockyards weakened the neighborhood economy. The older housing stock might appeal to Blacks. Thus, BYNC launched a conservation program. On the surface its beautification theme and its opposition to panic peddling and its campaign to upgrade infrastructure was constructive. The unspoken premise, however, was retaining white families in the area and prohibiting integration. Those white families and their institutions (principally churches) felt their defensiveness “was sanctioned by public opinion, economic sense and the law.” Many of those whites, Santow explains, did not realize how government housing programs were designed to “resist integration [through] subsidized suburban home ownership for whites while consigning Blacks to segregated urban neighborhoods.” (See The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein, W.W. Norton, 2017.)

A disappointed Alinsky avoided public criticism of BYNC. He only slowly admitted that, in Santow’s words, his effort “contributed to both the ability and willingness of [BYNC] to engage in racial containment…to protect and preserve an island of segregation.” Today BYNC says it “substituted an emphasis on community and economic development for Alinsky’s confrontational methods.”

In 1940 Alinsky formed his Industrial Areas Foundation. About 20 years later IAF returned to Chicago’s neighborhoods, starting with Organization for Southwest Community (Santow’s second case study).

Though OSC is overlooked in most chronicles of Alinsky, including the website of his foundation, the section on OSC in Saul Alinsky and the Dilemmas of Race is the most interesting. The area in 1959 was white with some upwardly mobile Black residents around its perimeter. IAF never said that integration was a goal of OSC. In fact, its organizers patiently and persistently solicited those mistrustful of Blacks. But many of those active in OSC were at best ambivalent, suspecting the goal was to move Blacks into the neighborhood.

OSC unraveled. Member groups exited. First, over an internal proposal to abolish term limits for officers. It was opposed by a faction who thought the hidden reason for the proposal was the retention of racially tolerant clergy officers. More groups quit OSC when its leadership drafted a letter to support an Illinois State bill on open occupancy. The measure could help neighborhood stabilization by giving Blacks more housing choices, particularly in the suburbs. But again, some OSC groups wanted nothing to do with racial improvements.

To judge by the Chicago neighborhood examples, Alinsky’s success was quite limited. Yet his moral stature, now 50 plus years since his death, remains high. Alinsky was consistently willing to risk failure in order to act in the real world. For Alinsky, too many people are “dismissive of messy compromises and far too enamored of the power and sufficiency of legislation and goodwill,” Santow concludes. Moralizing from the sidelines about race (or other issues) is cowardly.

Alinsky was constantly evaluating: Maybe a single neighborhood lacks enough power to deal with larger divisive forces. In 1970 his IAF organized a metropolitan organization, Campaign Against Pollution, soon called Citizens’ Action Program. Today the IAF has 63 county-wide or metro-wide organizations in the United States. Each is multi-issue and, like Alinsky, each believes that racial and ethnic relations improve as its member groups strive for the widest public conversation possible.


Droel edits INITIATIVES (PO Box 291102, Chicago, IL 60629), a newsletter on faith and work.

The Campaign for Just Employment Practices at LMU

A guest contribution from CLN Member Prof. Anna Harrison

The cry for just employment practices is ringing out on the campus of Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California. Non-tenure-track (NTT) faculty went public in November, 2023 with their unionizing effort. And LMU Solidarity/Solidaridad—an umbrella organization of students, staff, and faculty—is pleading with the administration to enact a just employment policy, modeled on the policy developed at Georgetown University.


Launching their movement’s website, NTT faculty — a majority of LMU’s faculty – announced:

Faculty at Loyola Marymount University are coming together to improve our campus and address multiple crises. For too long, faculty have been marginalized at LMU, with most relegated to contingent, non-tenure-track positions that offer low pay, inadequate benefits, no job security, no meaningful academic freedom, and no true opportunity to share governance with our administration. This is unjust and unfair, and we have had enough. We do the core work of our university, and we deserve respect.

Part-time and full time NTT faculty across all categories have aligned with SEIU Local 721 to demand job security, better pay, and improved access to professional development. Claiming their crucial role in their students’ education, NTT faculty and their supporters are likewise asserting what we should all have recognized all along: faculty working conditions are student learning conditions.

Ten years ago, LMU’s administration, under then President David Burcham, engaged in classic union-busting techniques that successfully quashed NTT faculty’s hopes for collective bargaining. This time around, LMU’s administration may encounter stronger and more widespread resistance. Students know the damage to their education that results when over half their faculty are routinely disregarded, left to work under conditions that undermine creative intellectual work in the classroom, and which limit their availability to meet students’ needs for advisors and mentors.


Following on a successful campaign waged with LMU’s facility’s management workers that enacted a minimum wage of $21.00, LMU Solidarity/Solidaridad is urging the adoption of just employment practices to extend to all employees on campus, including those employed by outside contractors. On November 14, 2023, students took advantage of University President Timothy Law Snyder’s convocation address to distribute informational flyers to those assembled. They reminded LMU that as wealth inequality in the United States continues to spiral, institutions of higher education are no exceptions to the larger trend. And even as the numbers and salaries of the LMU’s top administrators balloon, too many staff and faculty live paycheck to paycheck and have difficulty affording groceries, transportation, and rent in one of the most expensive regions in the country.

LMU Solidarity/Solidaridad proposes a just employment policy (like that which Georgetown University adopted) as a means to heal hurtful labor practices. Animating principles include a living wage, a preference for full-time employees and employee continuity, and freedom of association—no union busting. LMU Solidarity/Solidaridad insists: “LMU has a choice to make. As a Jesuit university committed to the service of faith the promotion of justice, we have the opportunity to teach solidarity by example, or we can remain yet one more player increasing economic inequality.” Meanwhile, LMU’s Faculty Senate and the Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts’ College Council both ratified motions signaling their support of the University’s adoption of a just employment policy. Further actions are planned, including bringing attention to Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’, whose goals of combating climate change LMU has committed to advancing, and which insists on an integral ecology that joins care of our common home with the repairing of human relationships and that “to stop investing in people, in order to gain greater short-term financial gain, is bad business for society.”

Can you help? President Timothy Law Snyder needs to hear that Catholic Social Teaching is on the side of those organizing. Email [email protected]!

Nurses at Baltimore’s St. Agnes Hospital form Union

Workers at another Catholic institution have formed a union! At the start of November, a majority of the nurses at Baltimore’s Ascension St. Agnes Hospital voted to join National Nurses United. The nurses were concerned with understaffing at the hospital.

Ascension, a Catholic health care chain with hospitals and nursing homes across the country, has nurtured an anti-labor reputation by consistently resisting its nurses’ efforts to organize, often committing labor law violations that brought management before the National Labor Relations Board. In the Baltimore case, Maryland Catholic Labor Network activists were obliged to call hospital management, reminding them of Catholic teaching on labor unions.

Ascension’s “union avoidance” activities created hardship and misery for many targeted employees but failed to dissuade the nurses from organizing. The hospital is now obliged to bargain with them for a first contract.