Wisconsin Catholic bishops' statement on state labor dispute

religion | Feb 24, 2011 | By Martin Barillas

Catholic Archbishop Jerome Listecki of Milwaukee – speaking as President of the Wisconsin Catholic Conference – issued a defense of workers’ right to organize and bargain collectively. The WCC “Statement Regarding the Rights of Workers and the Value of Unions” was released on February 16.

Among other assertions, Archbishop Listecki's statement declares:

The Church is well aware that difficult economic times call for hard choices and financial responsibility to further the common good… But hard times do not nullify the moral obligation each of us has to respect the legitimate rights of workers.

It reminds Wisconsin legislators that the Catholic Church’s has traditionally taught that workers have a right to organize, according to both Pope Leo XIII more than 100 years ago and reaffirmed in 2009 by Pope Benedict XVI in Caritas in Veritate.

Governments, for reasons of economic utility, often limit the freedom or the negotiating capacity of labour unions. Hence 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.

However, Wisconsin’s Catholic bishops do not opine abuot the about the proper level of public employees’ pay, pension benefits or health insurance contributions.

See: Wisconsin Catholic Conference


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Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat and the editor of Spero News.