Catholic-Labor Rights

LABOR UNIONS, CATHOLIC health-care providers, and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops made significant strides for worker justice with the release in June, after a 10-year process, of the document “Respecting the Just Rights of Workers: Guidance and Options for Catholic Health Care and Unions.” The agreement will assist nearly 600,000 workers from a network of 600 hospitals and 1,200 health-care agencies in making informed decisions on whether to be represented by a union, and guarantees employers will support workers’ choices without undue pressure. The document, rooted in Catholic social teaching, states that “health care is a human right” and asserts two key values: the central role of workers in choosing their representation and the principle of mutual agreement between employers and unions to protect workers’ free choice in representation.

“In the midst of the national conversation about the Employee Free Choice Act,” Kim Bobo, executive director and founder of Interfaith Worker Justice, told Sojourners, “the release of this document demonstrates the problems workers face when they try to organize, even in religious institutions, and the need for significant changes in the process for workers making a choice about whether or not they want a union and getting a contract in a reasonable time period.” —Laurel Frodge

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