Friday, February 18, 2011

Catholic social teaching opposes Walker's attack on unions, defends collective bargaining as fundamental human right.

Gov. Scott Walker appears to be on the wrong side of Milwaukee's Archbishop and Catholic social teaching: 
jsonline: When Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki lent his voice to this week's legislative debate over collective bargaining by public employees, he was drawing on more than 100 years of Catholic social teaching, which has endorsed the role of labor unions in creating a just economy and society. 
Listecki's letter Wednesday to the Legislature's Joint Finance Committee invoked a century of papal encyclicals, from Pope Leo XIII in 1891 through Benedict XVI in 2009, that have upheld the rights of workers to organize and bargain with management. 
"The goal of Catholic social teaching is the fundamental dignity of the human person. And the right to unionize is the concrete means by which workers can demand those things we consider as fundamental human rights - the right to a living wage, to safe working conditions," said Father Bryan Massingale, a social ethicist and professor of theology at Marquette University. 
Listecki is among a number of faith leaders and organizations in Wisconsin and around the country that have weighed in … Faith leaders said Thursday that they objected to the idea that lawmakers would use what's become a divisive political issue to strip workers of their employment protections. 
"We have an obligation as a society to involve people in the decision-making process. And when you remove collective bargaining, we turn into an autocracy, not a democracy," Madison Rabbi Jonathan Biatch said. 
Robert DeFina, a professor of sociology at Villanova University and co-editor of the Journal of Catholic Social Thought … cautioned against an argument that tears down one group of workers because its benefits are greater than others. 
"Let's look at the public sector as a model for how we can develop a strong social safety net," DeFina said. "The argument seems to be let's use the bad to make everyone worse, instead of let's use the good to make everyone better."

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