February 28, 2011

Quoting Popes Benedict XVI and John Paul II, Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki issued a statement Feb. 16 that came down squarely in favour of workers' rights in the face of efforts by Wisconsin's new governor to restrict those rights.

"Hard times do not nullify the moral obligation each of us has to respect the legitimate rights of workers," Listecki said.

"Every union, like every other economic actor, is called to work for the common good, to make sacrifices when required, and to adjust to new economic realities," he said.

"However, it is equally a mistake to marginalize or dismiss unions as impediments to economic growth."

Listecki was responding to efforts by new Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker to push through measures restricting the rights of unions in a special session of the state legislature.

The bill would strip most government workers — at the state, county and local levels, including teachers — of nearly all collective bargaining rights.

Unions would have to gain approval in a public referendum to seek pay raises higher than the consumer price index.