The New Wine Press vol 26 no 1 September 2017 | Page 9

Peace & Justice treated with the dignity that is their due. Through their efforts to ensure just wages, increase workplace safety, eliminate child labor, prevent harassment, and provide security despite changing economies, unions promote the common good. The second theme is the call to family, commu- nity, and participation. At their best, unions are the embodiment of this principle. By organizing, workers combine their efforts to ensure the benefit of all. Labor organizations have helped promote policies that sup- port families, including family leave and limitations on the work week. In many places, labor organizations are significant sources of support for families in particu- lar need, such as those facing the illness of a child or substantial job dislocation. The third theme is rights and responsibilities. This theme rem inds us that rights are always ac- companied by responsibilities. The ultimate good of labor organizations is not to ensure the great- est economic benefit for their members or greatest political influence for their leaders. Their goal is to help workers take their appropriate role in the build- ing up of a more just social order. A reliable safety net for workers facing hardship, policies that provide for full employment, a business culture that respects the needs of families, safe workplaces, and employ- ees that value workers’ contributions are important elements of a just social order, as are policies that ensure a fair day’s work for a fair day’s wage and ap- propriate returns on investment. The fourth theme is the option for the poor and vulnerable. Throughout his earthly ministry, Jesus showed a special affinity for those who were margin- alized in society—the poor, the migrant, the outcast, the sinner. Throughout its history, organized labor has stood up for the poor and vulnerable—protecting new immigrants, fighting the exploitation of child laborers and demonstrating for civil rights. These efforts must continue in the present econ- omy. Unions must reach out to new audiences of the poor and vulnerable, including immigrants, seasonal and migrant workers, and those who lack the skills to participate in the current working environment. Unions must look beyond the self-interest of their current members and work for the good of those who have no voice or power. Workers must use their right to organize to work for the greatest good of the greatest number. They must judge their success by how the most vulnerable members of society are faring. The fifth theme is the dignity of work and the rights of workers. The relationship of this theme to the role of organized labor is clearest. The principal reason for the right of workers to organize is to ensure that the rights of workers are protected. Unions must also take steps to help people grow in their understanding of the dignity of human work. Work is not simply a way to provide for our material needs. It is the way we par- ticipate in God’s work of creation. Ultimately, we are judged not by out stock price or profit margin, but by our love of our sisters and brothers. This love is made concrete by our efforts to ensure that all persons are treated with justice and have the opportunity to work in conditions that enhance their dignity rather than detract from it. The sixth theme is solidarity. We belong to one human family—a family that knows no boundaries of race, class, or country. The right to organize into unions does not include the right to ignore the needs of those who are not members. Our ultimate focus must be the common good, not short-term self-inter- est. We are called to look beyond our boundaries and comfort levels to speak for the voiceless, to promote human rights and dignity, and to see the good of all our sisters and brothers. We live in an economy that is increasingly global- ized and interdependent. This structure presents new moral and economic dangers. It is easy to demonize foreign workers who benefit from jobs that are out sourced or immigrants who take local jobs. Solidarity means that our organizations must reach across boundaries to forge collaborations and undertake ef- forts that enhance the life and dignity of all. The seventh theme is care for God’s creation. God has given us the resources of the earth to use for our benefit. However, these resources are not limitless. Increasingly, scientific evidence and our experience demonstrate the fragility of our natural world. Our unions must work to promote policies that will protect our environment, use resources wisely, and pass this wondrous heritage to generations of workers yet to come. The right to work is an essential element of the Church’s social teaching. But we must use this right continued on page 14 September 2017 • The New Wine Press • 7