Here’s a recent story dug up by the Catholic New Service — and when I say “dug up,” I mean to say you really have to go out of your way to find stuff like this.
The headine reads, “Union busting is a mortal sin, Catholic scholars say.” Now, if the headline had been reveresed, starting with “Catholic scholars say,” I would have been prepared for anything that followed.
A statement from Weymouth, Mass.-based Catholic Scholars for Worker Justice, released May 1, the feast of St. Joseph the Worker, offers a detailed argument that actions to thwart union organizing campaigns, stifle contract talks, unilaterally roll back wages and benefits, and break existing labor agreements are a “grave violation of Catholic social doctrine on labor unions.”
Catholic Scholars for Workers, which was founded in 2008, claims 250 members around the world. Here is an example of their reasoning:
The scholars explained that under church teaching, such a right is rooted in divine law and that efforts to break a labor organization using civil laws is comparable to idol worship, which is contrary to the First Commandment.
“Since the right to form labor unions is rooted in divine law, no created law may be invoked to deny, or frustrate, or impede that right,” the document said.
The scholars invoke “natural right to free assembly” and a variety of other concepts such as the “universal common good” and “social solidarity” to ground their admonition that “Catholic employers, managers, or sponsors who fear they may be violating Catholic social teaching consult with their confessor.”
All kidding aside, Catholics who are trying to get their arms around the various dynamics that animate Catholic political participation should study more closely the history of the labor union movement and its close association with the Church.