Monday, February 28, 2011


Bishop Gabino Zavala, Auxiliary of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles spoke to over 400 Catholic and other faith leaders in support of the rights of workers in Wisconsin last Friday.

Bishop Zavala reminded them that the Catholic Church has long recognized the rights of workers but stressed that now is the time for us to stand with them in solidarity.

The audience included many Catholic elected leaders of labor, clergy, religious and rank and file Catholic union members preparing to find news ways to support workers in Wisconsin.

Also commenting on the situation in Wisconsin was Fr. Sinclair Oubre, JCL, who proclaimed:

I find the scapegoating of public employees a scandal. So many of these people are the very persons who make our civic and community life possible. I wonder what all these folks who are so enthusiastic about "cutting out waste," will do when the local water department has been slashed in half, and their sewer line is clogged on the city side. How pleasant will their life be when no city employee will be able to deal with the consequences of a stopped up sewer line for a week. Or what are we going to do when our garbage pick up will be once every two weeks because half our garbage collectors have been declared "unnecessary government waste?"

Father Sinclair ministers to Catholic workers.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Poland to Wisconsin: Stand for Workers

Poland’s Solidarność Union Tells Wisconsin Workers: “Your Victory is Our Victory as Well”

Washington, DC — In a remarkable expression of international solidarity among working men and women, the president of “Solidarność” (“Solidarity”) – the Polish trade union whose determination and courage led to the fall of the Iron Curtain – has written an open letter in support of the public employees of Wisconsin.

Piotr Duda, president of Solidarność, said the 700,000 members of the Polish union wished “to express our solidarity and support for your struggle against the recent assault on trade unions and trade union rights unleashed by Governor Scott Walker.”

The letter is printed as a full-page advertisement in today’s issue of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

“Dear Friends,” Duda’s letter continues, “please rest assured that our thoughts are with you during your protest, as we truly do hope that your just fight for decent working and living conditions, for the workers’ rights will be successful.”

“Your victory is our victory as well,” he said.

In the early 1980s, Solidarność persisted against great odds to win collective bargaining rights from the communist government of Poland. The union’s leader, Lech Walesa, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and was named Time magazine’s Man of the Year in 1981. He was elected President of Poland after the country secured its freedom.

The letter was sent to AFSCME Pres. Gerald W. McEntee with a request that it be conveyed to “Public Service Workers in the State of Wisconsin.” Download the open letter as a PDF.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


"The repeated calls issued within the Church's social doctrine, beginning with Rerum Novarum, for the promotion of workers' associations that can defend their rights must therefore be honored today even more than in the past."

-- POPE BENEDICT XVI, Caritas in Veritate

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Archbishop's Statement Regarding the Rights of Workers and the Value of Unions

Most Reverend Jerome E. Listecki, archbishop of Milwaukee and president of the Wisconsin Catholic Conference, has issued the following statement regarding the rights of workers and the value of unions.
February 16, 2011

The Church is well aware that difficult economic times call for hard choices and financial responsibility to further the common good. Our own dioceses and parishes have not been immune to the effects of the current economic difficulties. But hard times do not nullify the moral obligation each of us has to respect the legitimate rights of workers. As Pope Benedict wrote in his 2009 encyclical, Caritas in veritate:

Governments, for reasons of economic utility, often limit the freedom or the negotiating capacity of labor unions. Hence traditional networks of solidarity have more and more obstacles to overcome. The repeated calls issued within the Church's social doctrine, beginning with Rerum Novarum [60], for the promotion of workers' associations that can defend their rights must therefore be honored today even more than in the past, as a prompt and far-sighted response to the urgent need for new forms of cooperation at the international level, as well as the local level. [#25]

It does not follow from this that every claim made by workers or their representatives is valid. Every union, like every other economic actor, is called to work for the common good, to make sacrifices when required, and to adjust to new economic realities.

However, it is equally a mistake to marginalize or dismiss unions as impediments to economic growth. As Pope John Paul II wrote in 1981, “[a] union remains a constructive factor of social order and solidarity, and it is impossible to ignore it.” (Laborem exercens #20, emphasis in original)

It is especially in times of crisis that “new forms of cooperation” and open communication become essential. We request that lawmakers carefully consider the implications of this proposal and evaluate it in terms of its impact on the common good. We also appeal to everyone –lawmakers, citizens, workers, and labor unions – to move beyond divisive words and actions and work together, so that Wisconsin can recover in a humane way from the current fiscal crisis.