US Archbishop Affirms Value of Worker Unions

MILWAUKEE, Wisconsin, FEB. 18, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Archbishop Jerome Listecki of Milwaukee is affirming the rights of workers and the value of unions, as tens of thousands of public employees in Wisconsin protest a proposed bill that would limit the collective bargaining rights of unions and raise the cost of pension and health care benefits.

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“The Church is well aware that difficult economic times call for hard choices and financial responsibility to further the common good,” the archbishop said. “But hard times do not nullify the moral obligation each of us has to respect the legitimate rights of workers.”

However, the president of the Wisconsin Catholic Conference acknowledged, “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.”

The archbishop concluded: “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.”

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ZENIT Staff

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