Trumka: Catholic Church, Labor Movement Stand Together for Worker Liberty, Solidarity

WASHINGTON –The Catholic Church, especially under new Pope Francis I, and the labor movement stand together for liberty for workers to organize and for worker solidarity, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka says.
In a ringing endorsement of Francis’ pro-worker teachings, the federation leader said those two principles “are sorely needed’ in the modern world.
Trumka, a practicing Catholic, compared the two institutions’ stands on June 3 while introducing Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, Archbishop of Tegucigalpa and chair of the Council of Cardinals whom Francis appointed to reform the Vatican bureaucracy.  Both spoke at a seminar, organized by the AFL-CIO, Bread for the World and Catholic University, on the church’s response to libertarianism – and, as the cardinal made clear, to unbridled capitalism.
Since ascending to the papacy just over a year ago, Francis, the former Cardinal from Buenos Aires, has been outspoken in support of workers and their rights.  That’s in keeping with his past positions in Latin American church deliberations, Cardinal Maradiaga said.  And Francis has added the word “solidarity” to his vocabulary, the cardinal added.
Francis’ pro-worker stands are also in line with Catholic teaching for the last 130 years, the cardinal noted.  He reminded the group Francis is challenging Catholics not just to listen to the words, but to carry them out in deeds – an area where even cardinals have sometimes fallen short.
“That’s why I’m heartened by Pope Francis’ words,” Trumka told the cardinal and the crowd.  But a “spirit of compassion” is lacking today worldwide, the union leader warned.
“Where’s the spirit of compassion when 11 million people are hounded for nothing more than coming to this country to help their families?” he asked in one of several questions, referring to undocumented workers in the U.S.
Both the Church and organized labor are strongly lobbying lawmakers to approve comprehensive immigration reform.  Reform would bring those people out of the shadows, put them on a long path to citizenship, but immediately bring them, as “blue card” holders, under U.S. labor law, lessening their exploitation and employer use of them to depress U.S. workers.
The cardinal, adopting much of the same language and thoughts Francis articulated, also had a sharp critique of capitalism and its excesses, notably corporate treatment of people as machines and its race for huge profits at the expense of workers.
“A new system has to be established, with a new model – and it’s not the market economy,” Maradiaga said.  “Many times people say, ‘What do priests know about the economy?’  My reply is we know about human beings – and the economy is for human beings, not human beings for the economy.”