Davenport Deacon on CNH Strike

In January, after 8 grueling months on the picket line, UAW members in Burlington IA (and Racine WI) settled their strike against Case New Holland (CNH), a manufacturer of agricultural and construction equipment. Deacon Kent Ferris, Director of Social Action in the Diocese of Davenport, accompanied the workers in their long struggle for a fair contract. Ferris recently explained to CLN how he got involved:

On the afternoon of Sunday, December 18, 2022, my son and I traveled to Burlington, Iowa, at the invitation of a local parishioner labor leader. I was asked to share briefly my reason for supporting striking workers and to provide an invocation for the rally. Over 1000 United Auto Workers at the Burlington factory and one in Racine, Wisconsin, had been on strike since May when their six year contract expired. I cited salient points from the USCCB document, Economic Justice for All. The invocation included reference to the inherent dignity of each person and acknowledging the importance workers have for their families and in turn a strong community.  Following the gathering at the labor hall, we joined with supporters in walking to the plant where workers had been since the beginning of the months long strike. It was a cold, blustery December afternoon, but the spirits were high amongst the supporters.

Generations have known of the strong Church commitment to supporting workers by way of the Catholic labor movement, one that stresses that the economy exists for the person, not the person for the economy. I was attempting to convey that message to the striking workers that day. I was also attempting to model the commitment to that teaching to the next generation that day as well.

Thanks for your witness, Deacon Kent!

1 reply
  1. Roger Alan Yockey
    Roger Alan Yockey says:

    Deacon Kent Ferris is a Secular Franciscan and has like St. Francis of Assisi has acted for peace and justice, especially with the poor. I had the pleasure of meeting Deacon Kent and speaking with him both in person and by phone. He has been in solidarity with union workers in their struggles. I am also a Secular Franciscan and I am a retired union staff member. Kent Ferris does not just talk the talk about Catholic Social Teaching; he walks the walks. It was no surprise to me when I read that Deacon Kent was supporting the striking workers.

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