Unions were once an essential component of the U.S. economy. For generations, unions safeguarded the rights of workers and ensured a better way of life for working-class families. Although not everyone regarded unions with uncritical approval, many families were proud of their union affiliation.
But in recent decades, things have changed. Unions have less influence than they once did, fewer workers are union members, and even working-class citizens often eye unions with distrust. Many Catholics, especially those who are politically conservative, are likely to be wary of unions.
But should they be?
In this, the pilot episode of the Glad You Asked podcast, hosts Emily Sanna and Rebecca Bratten Weiss ask Stephen Schneck how Catholics ought to regard labor unions.
Schneck formerly taught politics at the Catholic University of America, where he was also the Director of CUA’s Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies. He has served on the Board of Directors for Catholic Mobilizing Network and for Catholic Climate Covenant, Sojourners, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, and for Democrats for Life of America. He served as national co-chair of Catholics for Obama in 2012 and Catholics for Biden in 2020. He has also been executive director of the Franciscan Action Network. And in June 2022, the White House announced Schneck’s appointment to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom.
Schneck has also written extensively for U.S. Catholic on topics relating to politics, church teaching, economics, and labor.
You can find out more about this topic, find out what the church officially says about labor, and read some of Stephen Schneck’s articles in the links below:
- “Does the church support unions?” by Kevin Considine
- “Catholic priests and the labor movement,” a U.S. Catholic interview
- “Labor Day reflection: Ora et labora,” by Stephen Schneck
- “Fair wages are more than a living wage, Pope Francis says,” by Stephen Schneck
- “How Catholics should think about politics and government,” by Stephen Schneck
- Rerum Novarum (On Capital and Labor), Leo XIII, 1891
- Laborem Exercens (On Human Work), John Paul II, 1981
- Caritas in Veritate (Charity in Truth), Benedict XVI, 2009
Glad You Asked is sponsored by the Claretian Missionaries.