Monday, September 1, 2014

Labor Day 2014 Statement by Archbishop Thomas Wenski on behalf of U.S. bishops

At their best, labor unions and institutions like them embody solidarity and subsidiarity while advancing the common good. They help workers "not only have more, but above all be more... [and] realize their humanity more fully in every respect" (Laborem Exercens, No. 20). Yes, unions and worker associations are imperfect, as are all human institutions. But the right of workers to freely associate is supported by Church teaching in order to protect workers and move them — especially younger ones, through mentoring and apprenticeships — into decent jobs with just wages.

As a nation of immigrants, we recognize that a vibrant and just economy requires the contributions of everyone. Those who come seeking decent work to support their families by and large complement, rather than displace, American workers. But we need to fix our broken immigration system to stop the exploitation and marginalization of millions of people as well as address the development needs of other countries. In doing so we would also level the playing field among workers, provide more opportunity for all who can work, and bring about a needed "change of attitude toward migrants and refugees" (Pope Francis, Message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees).

Supporting policies and institutions that create decent jobs, pay just wages, and support family formation and stability will also honor the dignity of workers. Raising the minimum wage, more and better workforce training programs, and smarter regulations that minimize negative unintended consequences would be good places to start.

In doing this we follow the lead of Pope Francis in rejecting an economy of exclusion and embracing an authentic culture of encounter. Our younger generations are counting on us to leave them a world better than the one we inherited. (Read full text) (Ver texto en español)

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