Will it Get a Senate Vote?
Our labor laws no longer effectively protect workers who want to form a union. Employers have learned that the penalties for retaliating against workers seeking to exercise their legal right to organize are minor, so firing the ringleaders of any union campaign can be a good investment. And even when workers successfully navigate the hostile landscape and form a union today, half of employers refuse to bargain in good faith to reach a first contract.
The Protecting the Right to Organize or PRO Act would address these obstacles and has passed the House of Representatives. The AFL-CIO is pushing hard for a vote in the Senate.
The Catholic Labor Network, of course, supports the PRO Act. Our perspective is rooted in Catholic Social Teaching, which has recognized the right of workers to organize since 1891 and Pope Leo XIII’s Encyclical Rerum Novarum. And we take note of Pope Benedict XVI’s words in Caritas in Veritate: “Traditional networks of solidarity have more and more obstacles to overcome. The repeated calls issued within the Church’s social doctrine, beginning with Rerum Novarum , for the promotion of workers’ associations that can defend their rights must therefore be honoured today even more than in the past.”
What does the wider faith community have to say about this? It turns out, the right of workers to organize is recognized across many faith traditions, and support for the PRO Act is substantial. The Catholic Labor Network recently hosted an interfaith webinar where speakers representing a variety of faith traditions and organizations affirmed their support for worker justice and for this important legislation. Speakers represented national Catholic organizations such as NETWORK and the Franciscan Action Network; Protestant denominations, including the Episcopal Church, the United Methodist Church, United Church of Christ, and the Society of Friends; as well as Muslim and Jewish organizations. While each tradition brought a unique theological perspective, all shared a commitment to worker rights and a desire to see the PRO Act pass.
CLICK HERE to view a videorecording of the webinar on the Catholic Labor Network’s YouTube Channel.