By Jerry Todd, staff writer
I’ve always been a great fan of Pope St. Leo XIII’s whose moves to protect the working man during the Industrial Revolution resulted in the rise of labor unions. It saddens me to see how unionism has fallen under totalitarian rule with the leaders thriving on power rather than the welfare of the workers – or the survival of the companies that employ them.
More than one union has committed economic suicide by demanding pay and benefits beyond what an industry can support. They forgot it wasn’t only solidarity, it was also subsidiarity – well-stated in Pope Benedict XVI’s “Caritas in veritate” 57 and 58. A company has a better chance of prospering with a happy and motivated work force. Companies will move offshore or die if they can no longer compete. The wreckage of heavily unionized industries dots the American landscape. All ignored the “formula” our Founders left us in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
I’m for labor unions, but have a real problem with public employee unions. There’s a “Catch-22” here, because public employees need some form of collective bargaining at times, but the power they exercise in the body politic has become a possibly terminal cancer in our society. Public employee unions have an evil advantage over the taxpayer who suddenly finds himself paying salaries and perks to public “servants” ranging all the way to near full time pay in retirement at a rate 3 times what the hardest worker in the private sector can hope to amass. It’s a far cry from freely choosing to buy a union shop’s product at any price.
Cities and states under control of federal government funds can benefit from newly printed money against rising debt to cover for their extravagance. Municipal and state bankruptcies result in vast cuts in normal public services and infrastructure – just look at the weeds and ruts along California highways in spite of the highest highway taxes in the nation.
When public employee unions run their own candidates or push the election of others, they are cementing the status quo and bureaucratic inefficiency into the workings of the community and nation. See what a horrible price our children and wallets have paid to uphold the power of the now well entrenched educational establishment and public service employees unions worldwide!
Though good professors from Catholic institutions may proclaim the human is not autonomous, they do not justify collectivism that ignores the specialness of the individual and his responsibilities to God, family and self. Diversity limited to race, sex and ethnicity has damaged our entire outlook because true diversity is the infinite range of God-given gifts and talents that must be educed from the individual and developed for the good of all for the glory of God. Clayton Sinyai of the Catholic Labor Network said, “as Catholics, we are bound to seek other models to accomplish our ends.” How about considering a Catholic model that combines subsidiarity and solidarity, just as personal responsibility and e pluribus unum made this nation great?
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