Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Bishops Issue Guidelines Respecting Union Rights at Catholic Hospitals

From the Catholic Labor Network:

As many of you have heard, a major break through was recently announced between the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Catholic Health Association, and trade unions who have been active in organizing Catholic hospitals.

As was noted in the USCCB Press Release, "The result of more than ten years of work, this document offers guidance for Catholic health care employers and unions on how to create a fair process for health care workers to decide whether or not to form a union. The three-way dialogue between the Catholic bishops, Catholic health care leaders, and leaders of organized labor used Catholic social teachings to establish common ground on alternative approaches to protect the rights of workers."

AFL-CIO President John Sweeney said:

This is a landmark moment for health care workers. The foundation for reaching this agreement was mutual respect for the histories of both Catholic health care and workers' rights. Because of their willingness to engage in dialogue, the bishops and the leaders of Catholic health care displayed real courage and leadership and have set an example for all to follow.

Pope Benedict XVI recently noted that Catholic social teachings are strongly supportive of workers' freedom to form unions and recognized the importance of workers' rights in a modern economy. Unfortunately, recent studies show the freedom to form a union is at risk from a legal climate that allows management harassment and intimidation. The principles put forward by the Catholic bishops are an important response to these trends in the workplace.