Many on the Catholic right have argued that Church teachings on the right to form and join unions really only apply to the private sector. This is a misinterpretation without foundation. As the US bishops wrote clearly in their Labor Day message:
“There have been some efforts, as part of broader disputes over state budgets, to remove or restrict the rights of workers to collective bargaining as well as limit the role of unions in the workplace. Bishops in Wisconsin, Ohio, and elsewhere have faithfully and carefully outlined Catholic teaching on worker rights, suggesting that difficult times should not lead us to ignore the legitimate rights of workers. Without endorsing every tactic of unions or every outcome of collective bargaining, the Church affirms the rights of workers in public and private employment to choose to come together to form and join unions, to bargain collectively, and to have an effective voice in the workplace.”
Of course, the “private alone” argument is more than a little disingenuous. In an era of declining unionization, a persistent chipping away at union powers, and the demonization of union leaders, is it really the case that right-wing American Catholics hold that the right of workers to choose to join a union is a natural right, one that the government must protect rather than undermine?