Links success of labor efforts - Catholic Courier

Links success of labor efforts

To the editor:

Pope John Paul died near the anniversary of Martin Luther King’s death on April 4 and Cesar Chavez’s birth on April 5. All three stood for the rights of workers. Pope John Paul II in 1992 reaffirmed a “natural human right” proclaimed originally by Pope Leo XIII:

“‚Ķabove all the right to establish professional organizations of employers and workers, or of workers alone. Here we find the reason for the Church’s defense and approval of the establishment of what are commonly called trade unions: certainly not because of ideological prejudices or in order to surrender to a class mentality, but because the right of association is a natural right of the human being, which therefore precedes his incorporation into political society” (Centesimus Annus, No. 7).

I would like to see American Catholic leaders taking a more prominent role in supporting this right which is now under attack all across the United States.

They could vocally support the farm workers in their annual march. This is what the Pope had to say about the type of things the farm workers will ask for: “This is the right to a ‘just wage’ which cannot be left to the ‘free consent’ of the parties, so that the employer, having paid what was agreed upon, has done his part and is seemingly not called upon to do anything beyond’” (Centesimus Annus, No. 8).

Of the right to a day of rest, the Pope wrote, “no one can take away this human right, which is based on a commandment ‚Ķ” (Centesimus Annus, No. 9).

The success of the farm workers depends to some extent on the strength of the entire union movement. Administrators of Catholic organizations weaken the efforts of the poorest workers when they interfere with NLRB elections or engage in other activities designed to deprive their employees of a natural human right.

J. Dennis Chasse

South Main Street


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