Common Good Archives

Learning from Down Under: Where Labor Policy is Center Stage

by Thomas Kochan

Those of us from the U.S. who attended the just concluded World Congress of the International Industrial Relations Association in Sydney, Australia experienced a rare treat and learned firsthand how out of synch are America's efforts to modernize labor and employment policies with what is happening here and around the world. We visited a country in which the last federal election turned on labor policy, where work and employment issues are viewed as a central part of economic policy, and where the newly elected government enacted a major reform and modernization of labor and employment policy within a year of taking office.

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Catholic Social Teaching, EFCA, and the Current Crisis

by Joseph J. Fahey

Catholic Social Teaching (CST) states that labor unions “are a positive influence for social order and solidarity, and are therefore an indispensible element of social life.” CST further teaches that “unions have the duty of acting as representatives working for ‘the proper arrangement of economic life’” and must play an active role “in the whole task of economic and social development and in the attainment of the universal common good.” (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 305, 307, emphasis in original) Contrary to those who hold that unions are a relic of the industrial past, CST states that today “solidarity among workers [is] more fitting and necessary than ever” and that unions are appropriate “for all professions."

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A Labor Policy Strategy for Transforming the American Workplace

by Thomas Kochan

President-elect Barack Obama has pledged to take immediate actions to respond to the deepening economic crisis and to embark on an ambitious strategy to transform the American economy to once again make it work for all Americans. Such a transformation will require significant changes in the American workplace to create and sustain jobs that fully utilize workers’ knowledge and skills, drive innovation and productivity and ensure workers share equitably in the prosperity generated. The central task of the Obama Administration’s labor and employment appointees is to facilitate this transformation. This will require a coordinated effort across all labor and employment agencies, hard work with the Congress to achieve a set of necessary legislative reforms, and leadership in engaging business, labor, and community groups working with government toward this common goal.

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     Catholic Scholars for Worker Justice