Which side in Wisconsin?

The state’s Catholic Conference has chosen neither — and taken a stance it describes as “neutral.”

The bishop of Madison, Robert Morlino, has more to say in his weekly newspaper column:

The question to which the dilemma boils down is rather simple on its face: is the sacrifice which union members, including school teachers, are called upon to make, proportionate to the relative sacrifice called for from all in difficult economic times? In other words, is the sacrifice fair in the overall context of our present situation?

At a time when all are called to sacrifice, this question requires a weighing of the relative sacrifice which all are called upon to make, so that a judgment about just proportions can be made by each one of us.

The teaching of the Church allows for persons of good will to disagree as to which horn of this dilemma should be chosen, because there would be reasonable justification available for either alternative. (This is unlike the case of abortion or euthanasia, for which reason can offer absolutely no justification in terms of the killing of an innocent victim.)

The present situation, which has evolved in our state and which is powerfully, symbolically present in the Madison demonstrations, is one which admits of disagreement in conscience as to which alternative is most appropriate. As I indicated, I believe that the final question boils down to: is the sacrifice which teachers and other labor union members are called to make fair?

The problem with responding to that question, of course, is that there appears to be no common ground in terms of what the word “fair” actually means among various individuals. Some believe that “a fair solution” would require sacrifice from everyone but self. The relativism of our culture and society once again does us grave harm, because the cultural response to the question of the meaning of “fair” is, “well, what’s fair for you is fair for you and what’s fair for me is fair for me,” leaving us no common ground for reasonable and civil discourse. We are left with our emotions about the word “fair.” This, then, is a moment in our state and in our nation when the terrible effects of relativism on a culture are being blatantly displayed.

Read more.  And check out, as well, what Milwaukee’s Archbishop Jerome Listecki had to say on the subject, too.

Comments

  1. Silence is golden.

  2. I think the good bishop is missing the bigger point of collective bargining, as the agreement to pay a small share (far less than any of the public sector has to pay), for benefits has already been agreed upon by both sides.

    Like all good things, unions being one of them, they can be abused and misused. The reality is, as it currently stands, all teachers, are required to pay “dues.” The only problem with the “dues” is that they have been repeatedly used to fund democratic elections, which explains why Obama put his nose into a ‘local’ affair.

    I wish one bishop would have the guts to call it like it is (many facts support the union dues to democratic politicians, so take that as a given). The solution would be to NOT FORCE anyone to “pay dues”, and keep the union at a minimun of power of which it was good and orginally intended, to protect the rights of workers.

    No good Catholic could justify the corruption that now exists in many, not just WI, labor unions. Consequently, if allowed to exist as it, it will be the demise of many states, and have consequences for ALL citizens, not just union member.

    Thank God for the newly elected politicians who ARE standing up for reality and the common good.

  3. Klaire, in my school district, teachers were given the option of having the amount designated for required dues shunted to a foundation or charity if they did not agree with union platforms. It is not the same everywhere.

  4. Deak it’s still “forced dues”, which sytmies democracy. It’s also very hard without real investigation to determine front groups from the real charities, which is why, no one should be forced into contributions, especially into organizations as corrupt as most of today’s labor unions.

  5. Last week I read the Wisconsin Catholic Conference’s Statement Regarding the Rights of Workers and the Value of Unions signed by Bishop Listecki and sent February 16 to the members of the state legislature’s Joint Committee on Finance, I was so impressed that I downloaded it to put in my Catholic Social Teachings folder. I found the statement to be both balanced and pastoral.

    It is available on the Wisconsin Catholic Conference website in pdf.
    http://www.wisconsincatholic.org/

    Having read this post of Bishop Morlino’s words in his weekly news column (three times), I perceive a very subtle slap down to unions that makes it evident to me whose side he is on.

  6. It’s Archbishop Jerome Listecki, not Joseph.

  7. Klaire, in addition to negotiating salaries and health benefits for the teachers, my assoc. negotiated for conditions that also had direct impact on the kids…like class size, environmental protections, instructional minutes. We were not totally corrupt!

  8. naturgesetz says:

    I’m glad to see the bishops take a balanced approach which affirms the right of workers to organize while it recognizes the need for all parties to be realistic and to look to the common good.

  9. You people here in California, just wait, its comin, can ya feel it? Any day now. And I’m not talkin about an earthquake.

  10. Earthquakes…we can’t do anything about them.

  11. I agree with JPII. Unions are a very good thing when used for busting up communist regimes.

    For holding taxpayers hostage? Not so much!

    Time is loooong overdue for the U.S. Bishops to get out of politics and social justice issues and return to the business of saving souls!

  12. Anabel:

    I agree that the bishops are too involved in U.S. politics.

    But social justice? What wouldn’t we do with scripture passages such as the following? Delete them?

    Matthew 25-25-31 (The Last Judgment)

    Luke 6:17-26 (Sermon on the Plain)

    Luke 16:19-31 (The Rich Man and Lazarus)

    And wouldn’t we have to censure the numerous religious communities of men and women who have ministered (and are still ministering) to the needs of the poor, sick and marginalized since the very beginning of Christianity?

  13. Deacon John M. Bresnahan says:

    DEAK–because our teacher’s union regularly supports the most radical left-wing on social issues politicians here in Ma. I tried to get part of my dues back that go to finance our Ma. leftist politicians (that the Supreme Court said I had a right to get back). Fat chance. I won’t go into detail about the constant runarounds, waste of time, and probably lies from our union to avoid giving me my coerced donations to abortion loving, gay marriage supporting, etc. pols.
    So this retired, former union teacher has little respect for the honesty and integritry of teacher’s unions.
    Thus I was not surprised to see Wisconsin union teachers brazenly lining up to get fraudulent doctor’s chits so they could get their day’s sick pay while they were doing strike actions in Madison. Talk about setting a rotten, rotten moral example for their students.

  14. Deacon John, like me… are you well-taken care of in your retirement? Are your health benefits intact and comprehensive? Then you have your rotten union to thank. And YES, while I do not agree with all the stands my national and state level associations have taken, I am grateful that after my thirty years in the classroom, I am fairly “rewarded” with an adequate (certainly NOT wealthy) life.

  15. Deacon John M. Bresnahan says:

    Deak–From what I have heard on the news our pension in Ma. is nothing like what Wi. teacher’s have. Although I certainly don’t know all the details of their contracts as compared to mine
    Besides, there are some things MORE important than how well one’s nest is feathered. Like honesty. Like integrity. (which I did not find when I tried to get them to obey the law and refund some of my dues). Like not brazenly bragging in public that one is perpertrating fraud.

  16. Brother Deacon John, I am so sorry to hear of your unfortunate experience with your local. Mine was always good to me, and as I mentioned, made provisions for those (and there were only a couple) who felt that their dues deduction would be better served elsewhere. Over the years, as I paid into the State Teachers’ Retirement System…I never considered it “feathering my nest” at the expense of the taxpayers. I now receive half of my last year’s salary, live in a tiny home, and am able to care for myself and my wife (who has Multiple Sclerosis) and assist my daughter with various needs. I do not feel that I was some greedy union-loving parasite for being blessed in a life and career well-lived.

  17. Deacon John M. Bresnahan says:

    Deak–aside from the income issues, as a deacon and retired teacher how do you feel about the union strategy of parading their use of fraudulent doctor’s notes –even brazenly getting them in front of TV cameras–and the horrendous example it sets for the students of these union teachers.
    On the income issue, I don’t know about your state but the few people I know their income, we union teachers do very nicely when compared to people trying to survive on social security and hold onto their homes that are property-taxing them into poverty in order to pay the powerful unionized public employees .
    I know when I started teaching in the public high school I retired from there were few bureaucrats on the staff, but by the time I retired there were as many bureaucrats as teachers (Deans of this, deans of that, Ast’t to the as’st dept. heads , etc.)
    Yet everytime someone tried to get things under financial control, the newspapers would be full of stories about cutting sports programs, cutting music programs, crowded classrooms. Noone, even the teacher’s union( many of whose members want out of the classroom and a cushy drone job) would step to the plate and say–Get rid of those middle level people that do little and get paid far more than the classroom teacher (and get great pensions based on their higher pay–getting half their pay as pension would be fat city compared to some workers on Soc. Security. )

  18. Deacon John…I am not sure the things that you mentioned are a union “strategy”. I am thinking they are a manifestation of in-your-face mob mentality…and, if they were as you characterized (I’m taking your word for it…), those actions are reprehensible…and they give all organized labor a black eye.
    As to the income issues…I am sure that I have heard that your state does lay on a heavy tax burden…not certain of facts and figures here. But, Deacon…from where else should a teacher’s salary be paid? Parent donations? Student tips? Were you willing, during your working years, to return union-achieved raises? If you are doing nicely owing to negotiated settlements…from where did those dollars originate? Do you feel bad because you worked hard (and I KNOW you did!) and now enjoy an adequate retirement? Another thing about which I am not sure…how much tax burden is laid on someone surviving on social security and trying to hold onto their home?

  19. By the way, Deacon John…I have enjoyed our discussion and respectful discourse. As this thread is about to fall off of Deacon Greg’s page, and become an “older post”, I am through here. Let’s wait until the Wisconsin State Senate makes its move!
    Deacon Pete

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