The student news site of Benilde-St. Margaret's School in St. Louis Park, MN

Knight Errant

The student news site of Benilde-St. Margaret's School in St. Louis Park, MN

Knight Errant

The student news site of Benilde-St. Margaret's School in St. Louis Park, MN

Knight Errant

Right to Work laws defy Catholic Social Teaching

By gift of Catholic Social Teaching, every person has a duty and a privilege to work to sustain and protect humanity. In working, according to the principle of Dignity and Rights of Workers, all people are entitled to fair and just wages, safe conditions, productive work, benefits, and the right to unionize. The establishment of supposedly beneficial Right to Work laws violates Catholic Social Teaching and harms the wellbeing of working citizens.

Although the laws valiantly try to increase job availability and put the unemployed back in the workforce, Right to Work laws only make unions illegitimate. Already made law in twenty-four states, this legislation directly hurts employees because unions allow collective bargaining rights, which help employees to negotiate wages and benefits and are important to maintaining employment integrity. By making unions illegal, Right to Work laws limit the contracts between union members that allow collective bargaining to occur.

The title Right to Work is a misnomer. By preventing effective collective bargaining and compulsory unionization, these laws allow corporations to give unfair pay, lousy benefits, and provide unsafe working conditions for their works. In addition, employees can be fired without any cause or hope of explanation. In essence, these laws confiscate any right to work with dignity and pride.

Since unions were first used during the eighteenth century, they have largely been seen as a way to preserve the respect of workers. Unions’ original purpose was, and remains to be, using collective bargaining as a form of maintaining the basic necessities of employment. As Right to Work laws prevent such action, many find themselves without the job security and comfort of stability that unions give.

The Dignity and Rights of Workers principle of Catholic Social Teaching very clearly addresses unions. In fact, the principle goes as far as to say that poverty is most often caused by the rights of workers being taken from them. It goes on to say that a disregard for the importance of work often leads to the dignity of a human worker being disregarded. A primary focus of unions is to prevent these rights violations and help those who are oppressed.

In the Catholic society, the Right to Work laws must be seen as a violation of not only Catholic Social Justice, but of the integrity of humanity. If workers struggle to unionize, their rights to health care benefits and safe work environments will be stripped from them. This must be seen as reprehensible to the people in order to protect our basic human rights.

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Comments (4)

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  • C

    Christine NyholmMar 31, 2014 at 4:43 pm

    Thank you for this very clear definition of the Right to Work law in relation to Catholic Social Teaching. What do you think about Catholic dioceses that use this law in order to terminate diocesan and parish employees without cause – stating that it’s an “at will State”? I know of many examples of this practice.

  • W

    WilliamDec 5, 2013 at 12:21 pm

    Unions are not illegimate in right to work states: I live in a right to work state and see union offices and have met union members.

    GESTAPO like tactics of forcing people into labor unions in right to work states is illegal as it should be in the entire USA.

    Forcing workers to join unions is no better then the Inquistion torturing Jews into converting.

  • D

    DanielleFeb 26, 2013 at 8:14 pm

    Although this article references Catholic Social Teaching, it does not clarify where Catholic Social Teaching supports forced unionization. Catholic Social Teaching supports the dignity of the worker, thus the right to unionize, but also the dignity of the worker in not being forced, or harassed into unwanted unionization. I have personally witnessed this type of harassment on the part of certain unions, and have to question whether Catholic Social Teaching would agree with this. As Catholics we are obligated to stand for certain moral truths, some of which are greatly violated by certain unions. We should not be forced to join and support such unions when we are already employed in current non-union positions. Yes, the Taft-Hartly Act does offer an opt-out “fee” for workers who do not wish to pay union dues, but it does not protect the non-union worker, who is willing to pay the “fee,” from being threatened even though they pay the opt-out “fee”. Catholic Social Teaching supports the dignity of the human being against ALL forms of injustice. Often governmental laws fall far short of carrying this out no matter who the law seems to side with.

  • M

    Mick HawkinsFeb 14, 2013 at 8:28 pm

    You are so right-on, Anna.

    This whole putting the spin on evil has me wondering
    how many other proposed legislation items are the same
    deceitful initiatives.

    At the same time, could it be that those who perpetrate
    this kind of double talk really do believe what they are

    To me, though a good question, the answer seems obvious
    given the effort to add two mean-spirited amendments to
    the MN Constitution recently.

    How can people live with themselves and be such

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The student news site of Benilde-St. Margaret's School in St. Louis Park, MN
Right to Work laws defy Catholic Social Teaching