Catholics and Unions


“The Hand That Will Rule the World—One Big Union” from Solidarity, June 30, 1917. Source: Wikimedia, Creative Commons License.

The concept of community stressed in unions like the community in the Church was a parallel that never crossed my mind. Honestly, I never realized there was a correlation between religious affiliation and unions. Catholics relied on the community from the Church when they struck upon tough times just like union members rely on their union. As unions were formed in times of hardship, the Catholic worker  However, as unions are becoming less popular today, the communities in unions are less relevant than in the past. Reasons such as: companies meeting only the minimum standards in work conditions and the overall alienation of union protests displayed in the media continue to leave unions in a bad light to the general public. Membership is declining and there is more prominent dissatisfaction between members and the leadership. Unions have begun to hit a plateau in growth and a sort of universal respect. Coincidentally, you could say the same about the Catholic Church.

Essentially, the core of being a member of the Church and a member of a union is gathering and being accepted based off of mutual belief systems. The Church and a union allowed moments of peace and comfort within the hardships of everyday life. Although the inclusivity of Catholicism and unions have many issues, both in the past and present, I understand the importance of community and feeling accepted when you are struggling and marginalized. I agree immensely with opinions on wages, benefits, working condition, and rights on the job advocated in unions. All of the hard work people do in their jobs, no matter how trivial it may seem to others, deserves to be rewarded by better wages and benefits. Additionally, better working conditions and more rights on the job are deserved by the workers we make do the dirty work—literally and figuratively. As Catholics hold the largest number of immigrants than other religions,  a majority of Catholics work low-paying dirty work. With the little power America gives to immigrants (and low-income workers), the only way to garner enough power is to act in numbers. The union memberships gave workers the power to stand up to leadership and negotiate better conditions.


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