Friday, June 29, 2007

Vatican denies Catholic teachers' union efforts in St. Louis

The Church fully supports the right of workers to form unions or other associations to secure their rights to fair wages and working conditions. This is a specific application of the more general right to associate. In the words of Pope John Paul II, "The experience of history teaches that organizations of this type are an indispensable element of social life, especially in modern industrialized societies."
Economic Justice for All #104
Pastoral Letter on Catholic Social Teaching and the U.S. Economy, U.S. Catholic Bishops, 1986

And yet, we get this story from the SE Missourian:

The highest court in the Roman Catholic church has ruled against St. Louis Catholic elementary school teachers in their quest to unionize and bargain with the Archdiocese of St. Louis.

Church judges in Rome upheld Archbishop Raymond Burke's decision in 2004 to deny elementary school teachers the right to unionize and negotiate with the archdiocese, the teachers' group said Tuesday.

In a letter to teachers, Burke had said the archdiocese and individual parishes will not recognize or bargain collectively with any teachers organization.

The Association of Catholic Elementary Educators Local 1312 said it was the third and final appeal. It said the court gave no reasons for the ruling.

Association President Mary Chubb said it was sad to see Burke deny elementary teachers the rights to representation when the church has championed them for other working people, including secondary teachers in the archdiocese.

The archdiocese released a statement endorsing its Parent Teacher Committee, calling it the best way to involve elementary teachers in negotiating compensation and working conditions.

The church has said that since the committee was formed in 1998 by Burke's predecessor, now Cardinal Justin Rigali, salaries have increased and gains have been made in retirement, health and other benefits.

Teachers have maintained it's not enough.

The archdiocese recognizes unions representing three other groups of its employees: Catholic high school teachers, editorial staff for the Catholic newsweekly St. Louis Review, and Catholic cemetery workers.

The Association of Catholic Elementary Educators formed more than 12 years ago. An attempt in the 1970s to have union representation also failed.

In August 2004, the elementary teachers' association filed a complaint with the Vatican, accusing Burke of not following Catholic social teaching on workers' right to organize.

The icon is of Cesar Chavez, died Apr 23, 1993. He founded the first successful farm workers' union in the US, and died as president of the United Farm Workers of America, AFL-CIO.

Credit for the image below, and the story, to Madpriest

No comments: