A Special Message from Catholics United Executive Director Chris Korzen
Several years ago I worked as a union organizer, helping health care employees in the Pacific Northwest obtain dignity and respect on the job. On one campaign nearly 70% of the workers signed a public petition asking hospital management to recognize their union. But instead of negotiating, the employer took revenge, by threatening, intimidating – and in some cases ever firing – union supporters.
Each year tens of thousands of U.S. workers face this kind of harassment and intimidation in the workplace. Although retaliation for union activity is illegal, our current labor laws provide little recourse for those whose rights have been violated.
To remedy this situation, lawmakers will soon introduce a bill called the Employee Free Choice Act. The Act (called EFCA for short) will provide stiffer penalties for employers who violate workers' legal rights. It will also do away with the antiquated and undemocratic process by which Americans must presently form unions, and replace it with one that guarantees organizing workers a free and fair choice.
To rally Catholic support for this important legislation, Catholics United, Pax Christi USA, and Catholic Scholars for Worker Justice have launched a new campaign called Catholics for Working Families. On the campaign Web site – located at www.catholicsforworkingfamiles.org – you'll find facts about EFCA and the Catholic social tradition, a petition calling on Congress to support the legislation, and opportunities for grassroots EFCA supporters to engage elected officials and the general public.
With your financial help, we also plan to launch a radio and print advertising campaign in key states to rally Catholic support behind EFCA.
Support for workers' rights is an essential and unambiguous part of the Catholic Church's social doctrine. In fact, the Catholic social tradition began with Pope Leo XIII's 1891 encyclical Rerum Novarum, which affirmed each worker's right to collective bargaining, free from “force and injustice.” Addressing employer-sponsored anti-union campaigns in 1986, the U.S. Catholic Bishops wrote, “we firmly oppose organized efforts, such as those regrettably now seen in this country, to break existing unions and prevent workers from organizing.”
No one should have to suffer the kind indignities that I witnessed – especially as retribution for exercising a right they possess as Americans, and as human beings. Help pass the Employee Free Choice Act by joining our campaign today.