Friday, March 18, 2011

The Catholic Church and "Collective Bargaining

I can't believe the confusion with Catholics regarding Unions, Collective Bargaining and that whole mess.

American Catholic attempts to set the record straight on the matter of Collective Bargaining.

With all of the happenings around Ohio and Wisconsin (and other states that have not receive such national attention), the internet is swamped with a review of the Church’s social teaching.  Being a public school teacher, I myself have spent more time with social justice documents in the last few months than ever.  At this point, I don’t care to rehash all of the points that others have brought up: the balance between just wages and fiscal responsibility, the fact that the “upper levels” of various unions don’t actually function like unions but rather as political activists, etc.  If you are interested in my take on these issues, you can read my comments here, here, here, and here.
Instead, I want to raise and issue that, to my knowledge, has not yet been raised.  (That doesn’t mean it hasn’t been raised of course, and if I have learned anything from being in the blogosphere, it is that there is usually nothing new under the sun; it just means that I have not yet come across it.)  When the Wisconsin legislature passed the bill by removing all of the fiscal clauses (to deal with the fact that the Democrats were MIA … removing the fiscal portions also removed the need for the higher quorum), there were Catholics that screamed, “This is a violation of Catholic social doctrine.  People have the right to unionize and the right to collective bargaining!”  There are actually two separate claims in this, the first of which is easily dismissed.  Yes, Catholic social teaching is emphatic that people have the natural right to form associations.  However, from what I understand, the legislation in neither Ohio or Wisconsin made it illegal for unions to form or to exist, nor did it prohibit anybody from joining such unions.  The teachers union, for instance, will exists as it does now.  (It is worth mentioning here that Catholic social teaching is also emphatic that people are not to be coerced into joining associations or to be denied employment because of their refusal to join particular associations, something clearly violated by the “closed shop” mentality in non right-to-work states.)

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