Labor Day is a good time to remind ourselves of the rich Catholic tradition of reflection on work and the rights and responsibilities of workers. One place to start is the annual Labor Day statement issued by the U.S. bishops. Written this year by Bishop Stephen Blaire of Stockton, it notes that: “Our nation needs an economic renewal that places workers and their families at the center of economic life and creates enough decent jobs for everyone who can work. Work is more than a paycheck; it helps raise our families, develop our potential, share in God's creation, and contribute to the common good.” The goal is to achieve an economy that “serves the person rather than the other way around.”
Bishop Blaire quotes Blessed John Paul II: “…society and the State must ensure wage levels adequate for the maintenance of the worker and his family, including a certain amount for savings. This requires a continuous effort to improve workers' training and capability so that their work will be more skilled and productive, as well as careful controls and adequate legislative measures to block shameful forms of exploitation, especially to the disadvantage of the most vulnerable workers, of immigrants and of those on the margins of society. The role of trade unions in negotiating minimum salaries and working conditions is decisive in this area.” (Centesimus Annus, no. 15)
To read Bishop Blaire’s reflection, click the link.