The Recession

Pope Says Labor Unions Critical to Improving Economy

| by AFL-CIO

By Seth Michaels | AFL-CIO Blog

This weekend, the leader of the Catholic Church said that in the face of a broad economic crisis, a strong union movement will be critical to recovery and rebuilding a fairer, more just market.

The Catholic News Service reports that Pope Benedict XVI spoke of the importance of unions at a meeting of the Confederation of Italian Labor Unions, Italy’s largest union federation, on Jan 31. Pope Benedict said:

"The great challenge and the great opportunity posed by today’s worrisome economic crisis is to find a new synthesis between the common good and the market, between capital and labor. And in this regard, union organizations can make a significant contribution."

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As the Catholic News Service reports, Pope Benedict said Catholic teaching is strongly in support of workers’ freedom to form unions and advocate for a better life for themselves, their families and their communities.

"The Pope emphasized that the inalienable dignity of the worker has been a cornerstone of the church’s social teaching in the modern age, and said this teaching has helped the movement toward fair wages, improvement of working conditions and protection of vulnerable categories of employees.

He noted that his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, had underlined labor as the key component in social questions and had described the labor union as an indispensable element of social life in modern industrialized societies."

Religious groups are playing a big role in fighting to protect workers’ freedom to form unions and bargain here in the United States. Organizations representing a wide variety of faiths have expressed support for the Employee Free Choice Act, and Interfaith Worker Justice has developed an Employee Free Choice Act toolkit to help congregations support economic justice and the freedom to form unions.

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