May 24, 2005
William Z Foster and Organization
Here is a quote excerpt from the blog post that I found interesting:
"In his writings of this period, Foster tied together the themes of organization, power, and manhood. Among craft workers threatened by the divisive forces of technological change in the early twentieth century, a manly bearing on the job entailed maintaining a dignified pose toward the boss or foreman, and required that workers respect shop-floor traditions of mutual respect and solidarity. foster clearly sought to evoke such traditions when he wrote that unorganized workers were neglecting their duties to their families: workers outside the union constituted a 'miserable picture of incompetence and cowardice' and 'the sufferings of their women and children awaken no echo of revolt in their dull hearts."
- Forging American Communism, The Life of William Z. Foster by Edward P. Johanningsmeier
April 26, 2005
Update Catholic Church and Labor
In a related post Laborprof Blog reports on Ministers and Clergy unionization.
April 24, 2005
The Catholic Church and Labor
The recent popularity in the mainstream press for the Catholic Church and with it being a Sunday (not to mention my own Catholic upbringing) has prompted me to do a post on the Catholic Church and Labor.
Pope John Paul II had strong views regarding the rights of workers: In 1981 he published the Encyclical On Human Work (Laborem Exercens: In one section Pope John Paul II specifically addresses the issue of Labor Unions.
20. Importance of Unions
All these rights, together with the need for the workers themselves to secure them, give rise to yet another right: the right of association, that is, to form associations for the purpose of defending the vital interests of those employed in the various professions. These associations are called labour or trade unions. The vital interests of the workers are to a certain extent common for all of them; at the same time, however, each type of work, each profession, has its own specific character which should find a particular reflection in these organizations.
The modern unions grew up from the struggle of the workers--workers in general but especially the industrial workers--to protect their just rights vis-a-vis the entrepreneurs and the owners of the means of production. Their task is to defend the existential interests of workers in all sectors in which their rights are concerned. The experience of history teaches that organizations of this type are an indispensable element of social life, especially in modern industrialized societies. Obviously this does not mean that only industrial workers can set up associations of this type. Representatives of every profession can use them to ensure their own rights
One method used by unions in pursuing the just rights of their members is the strike or work stoppage, as a kind of ultimatum to the competent bodies, especially the employers. This method is recognized by Catholic social teaching as legitimate in the proper conditions and within just limits. In this connection workers should be assured the right to strike, without being subjected to personal penal sanctions for taking part in a strike.
The Labor Question was adressed by Pope Leo XIII in 1891 in an Encyclical titled, On Capital & Labor (Rerum Novarum).
49. The most important of all are workingmen's unions, for these virtually include all the rest. History attests what excellent results were brought about by the artificers' guilds of olden times. They were the means of affording not only many advantages to the workmen, but in no small degree of promoting the advancement of art, as numerous monuments remain to bear witness. Such unions should be suited to the requirements of this our age - an age of wider education, of different habits, and of far more numerous requirements in daily life. It is gratifying to know that there are actually in existence not a few associations of this nature, consisting either of workmen alone, or of workmen and employers together, but it were greatly to be desired that they should become more numerous and more efficient. We have spoken of them more than once, yet it will be well to explain here how notably they are needed, to show that they exist of their own right, and what should be their organization and their mode of action.
I have yet to come across writings by the new Pope (Benedict XVI) dealing specifically with labor but I did find an internet site with his writings here:
Nathan Newman also adresses the Catholic Church and Labor in this blog post.
David Grenier reflects on his Catholic upbringing, atheism, and his support of labor in this post.