Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Keith A Fournier

12/13/2012 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

There appears to be an effort to turn this into a Union vs. anti-Union struggle in order to promote a political agenda more than protect workers.

Most Press reports present the matter as a struggle between those who support collective bargaining rights and those who do not. That is simply not true. The legislation the Big Union leaders oppose gives both government and private sector workers the right to make up their own mind about joining a union and having their union dues deducted from their paychecks. It does not outlaw collective bargaining.

Michigan Union protesters

Michigan Union protesters

Highlights

By Keith A Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

12/13/2012 (1 year ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: labir unions, trade unions, right to work, Michigan, solidarity, collectivism, human dignity, Governor Rick Snyder,


LANSING, MI (Catholic Online) - The reports out of the Capitol of Michigan, the home of the United States Automobile Industry, were depressing and distressing.  The hostility between the leaders of the Big Labor Unions and workers and other citizens who support Michigan's Right to Work legislation reached a fever pitch on Tuesday, December 11, 2012.

Some Labor Union members tore down a tent where supporters of the legislation congregated to hear speeches, exercise their free speech rights and have refreshments. The tent was sponsored by an organization called Americans for Prosperity which supported the legislation the Union leaders and many members oppose. Some reports referred to the actions of some the union members as thuggery. The You Tube videos which have now gone viral lend credibility to the claim.

Most Press reports present the matter as a struggle between those who support collective bargaining rights and those who do not. That is simply not true. The legislation the Big Union leaders oppose gives both government and private sector workers the right to make up their own mind about joining a union and having their union dues deducted from their paychecks. It does not outlaw collective bargaining.

There appears to be an effort to turn this into a Union vs. anti-Union struggle in order to promote a political agenda more than protect workers.

The leadership of some Labor Unions has become increasingly politicized. They advocate agendas often associated with the "left wing" in today's political parlance. There is a growing concern among some workers - including faithful Catholics - that the dues collected from them, often against their will, is used to support candidates, causes and positions which directly contradict their deeply held religious and moral positions. 

The legislation passed the Michigan legislature by a majority vote. It was signed into Law by Governor Rick Snyder on Tuesday evening. However, the struggle to oppose it now appears headed to the Courts. It also seems slated to be used by some left leaning political activists more interested in fueling a class warfare narrative than promoting and protecting the dignity of workers.

This kind of legislation is referred to as Right to Work legislation. It is often disparaged as anti-union, anti-collective bargaining and pro-republican. Some of those who support it are anti-Union - and that is unfortunate. Unions are mediating associations whereby workers govern themselves and legitimately protect their interests. They have played - and can continue to play - an important role in our social and economic order.

However, some leadership in some of the larger Unions resembles the bloated bureaucratic boss corporate leadership structure Unions were originally organized to oppose and contend with. Their claim to respect and protect the rights of their worker-members is also, at times, questionable. So too is their use of the funds extracted from the paychecks of their members without their consent.

It seems the fact that Michigan is a predominantly Democratic State has raised the ire of many in the leadership of the Union movement opposing this legislation. Sadly, the matter only fuels the growing divisions in the Nation. It is being used to spread a class warfare narrative reminiscent of past eras.

Catholic social doctrine supports labor unions as a form of participation which recognizes that the dignity of human work derives from the dignity of the worker. They are seen as an example of mediating institutions which can serve the common good. That support is succinctly summarized in the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church in paragraphs #305 - 309 from which I quote below.

However, these sections also issue warnings too rarely considered. Here is one: "Unions do not have the character of "political parties" struggling for power, and they should not be forced to submit to the decisions of political parties nor be too closely linked to them. In such a situation they easily lose contact with their specific role, which is to secure the just rights of workers within the framework of the common good of the whole of society; instead they become an instrument used for other purposes."

Here is another, "Properly speaking, unions are promoters of the struggle for social justice, for the rights of workers in their particular professions: This struggle should be seen as a normal endeavor 'for' the just good ... not a struggle 'against' others. Being first of all instruments of solidarity and justice, unions may not misuse the tools of contention; because of what they are called to do, they must overcome the temptation of believing that all workers should be union-members, they must be capable of self-regulation and be able to evaluate the consequences that their decisions will have on the common good."

Ironically, some on the political right who have an animus against unions welcomed the role they played in bringing down the tyranny of collectivism under the Communist tyrants who once ruled Poland. Together with all justice and freedom loving people they hailed the role of the Polish Trade Union named Solidarity and the leadership of that great Union Leader named Lech Walesa. He  responded to the hour, informed by his Catholic faith, and courageously stood for the dignity of the Polish worker.

However, some Union leaders in the United States of America are a far cry from Poland's Solidarity Union. They also seem to be almost a polar opposite of Lech Walesa. They are too often controlled by the ideology of some on political left who seem more interested in fostering collectivism than protecting freedom and expanding participation. They also have little respect for the rights of the worker to make their own choice of association. 

We live in an age that has lost sight of the true dignity of work - because we have lost sight of the dignity of the human worker. This loss is one more bad fruit of the rupture which was wrought by sin. In the industrial age, men and women were often reduced to mere instruments in a society that emphasized productivity over the dignity of the human person, the worker. Trade unions helped to protect that dignity and promote the basic human rights of the worker.

The technological age promised something different, but has failed to deliver on the promise. Too often, men and women are still viewed as instruments and objects rather than persons and gifts. Even Science, a great gift meant to be placed at the service of the human person, human flourishing, the family and the common good, has often promoted a view of the human person as an object to be experimented on and disposed of at will. This fundamental error is the root of the contemporary culture of death and use. 

The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church issues a challenge which must be taken up in this hour, "Given the changes that have taken place in the world of work, solidarity can be recovered, and perhaps with a firmer foundation in respect to the past, if the effort is made to rediscover the subjective value of work".

Catholics need to examine the events unfolding in Michigan in light of the social doctrine of the Catholic Church. We should not succumb to those who want to place us in any of the politically charged camps. To again quote the Compendium, "there is a need for ever new movements of solidarity of the workers - and with the workers".

In an age when collectivism is growing - from the federal government on downward - we need to form and encourage new mediating associations from the ground up. They are an alternative form of governance and we will need them for protection if the trends continue. That includes forming true trade unions which fit the day in which we live and are not carryovers from a bygone era led by Big Labor Bosses with a political agenda.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for September 2014
Mentally disabled:
That the mentally disabled may receive the love and help they need for a dignified life.
Service to the poor: That Christians, inspired by the Word of God, may serve the poor and suffering.



Comments


More U.S.

A political warning against high taxes: Northest losses 40% of its House seats Watch

Image of High taxes have dropped the population of 11 Northeastern states dramatically, cutting their number of seats in the House of Representatives by 40% since 1950.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Census Bureau has reported that the Northeast is losing power in the U.S. as many citizens leave the high-tax region, heading south or west to states with lesser tax burdens. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Population growth has shifted, primarily to the ... continue reading


Is Ebola here to stay? Second patient being monitored for Ebola in Dallas Watch

Image of The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had confirmed earlier this week that a patient at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas was the first person to be diagnosed in the U.S. with the Ebola virus.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A second person who had been in close contact with a person infected with Ebola is now being closely monitored in Dallas. Health officials here are treating the situation here with great seriousness, as this is the first example of an Ebola-infected person ... continue reading


How Can We Overcome Fear? Watch

Image of Perhaps we are no longer as crippled by our fears as we were when we were younger, but they still lurk in the background, robbing our freedom and preventing our human flourishing. They harm our relationships and can impede our growth.We can be set free!

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

Unable to overcome fear by our own effort, we are often overcome by it. Though we may develop coping mechanisms over time, or learn to hide the interior reactions caused by fear, inside, it can paralyze us and impede us from living our lives to the full. The ... continue reading


'Political correctness' could have cost lives in White House Security breach Watch

Image of It was later revealed that the fence-jumper made it all the way to the East Room of the White House, on the second floor.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

"Political correctness" is a hot-button term that has come to mean irrelevance as applied to any given situation. According to Representative Jason Chaffetz (R., Utah), who sits on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, "political correctness" ... continue reading


Watch out Saudi Arabia! U.S. oil production expected to rapidly increase Watch

Image of A Saudi Arabian oil refinery.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The International Energy Agency says that U.S. production of petroleum is set to exceed that of Saudi Arabia's for the first time since 1991. A growing sign of the future of the American energy sector. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The production of oil and ... continue reading


Latinos run from Obama en mass after president punts immigration reform Watch

Image of Latino activists have turned their back on President Obama after he dropped immigration reform until the midterm election.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

President Barack Obama has bowed to worried Senate Democrats, delaying executive actions on immigration until after the midterm elections, fearing that using executive actions would make immigration reform a partisan issue which would hurt Democrats. LOS ANGELES, ... continue reading


As thousands of illegals enter U.S., who's stuck with the education bill? Watch

Image of Tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors have flooded into the U.S. during 2014 alone, mostly from South America. While they await immigration trials, schools are responsible for teaching them.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The large numbers of unaccompanied minors who have been illegally crossing into the U.S. from Mexico in ever greater numbers have caused American schools to scramble in an attempt to provide services. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The children and teens who ... continue reading


St. Michael the Archangel, Defend Us in Battle: Pope Francis Takes on the Devil Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Now the new People of God is the Church. That is the reason she considers him her protector and support in all her struggles for the defense and expansion of the kingdom of God on earth. It is true that "the powers of death shall not prevail", as the Lord assured ... continue reading


Need milk? Eggs or flower? The Post Office may have you covered Watch

Image of Amazon partnered with the USPS to provide daily grocery deliveries to people in the San Francisco Bay area, a program the USPS wants to extend to the rest of the country.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The U.S. Postal Service has revealed a new plan to reverse its six-year streak of billion-dollar losses, which is as ingenious as it is simple. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The USPS wants to deliver your groceries to you, and the agency sent this proposal to ... continue reading


Where the buffalo roam... Native Americans plan return of free range Bison on the American Great Plains Watch

Image of Bison calves are playful and eager to roam free.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Buffalo are part of the American west. Across the vast prairies of the Great Plains, herds grazed and migrated, crisscrossing the open grasslands in great, thundering tides. Each year, some of these buffalo were hunted by Native Americans who used everything, from ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Exodus 23:20-23
20 'Look, I am sending an angel to precede you, to ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 91:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 10-11
1 You who live in the secret place of Elyon, spend ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 18:1-5, 10
1 At this time the disciples came to Jesus and said, ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 2nd, 2014 Image

St. Leger
October 2: Leger was raised at the court of King Clotaire II and by his ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter