The U.S. bishops issued their annual Labor Day statement, written by Bishop William Murphy, Chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development. Bottom line: whatever social contract existed with American workers in the past, we need to revisit it now.
With millions unemployed and U.S. workers experiencing tragedies such as mining deaths in West Virginia and the oil rig explosion and subsequent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Americans “must seek to protect the life and dignity of each worker in a renewed and robust economy…”
Robust economy? That’s a tall order. There are unusually difficult times, the bishops conceded.
“America is undergoing a rare economic transformation, shedding jobs and testing safety nets as the nation searches for new ways to govern and grow our economy,” said Bishop Murphy. “Workers need a new ‘social contract.’” Bishop Murphy said that creating new jobs would require new investments, initiative and creativity in the economy. He also drew on the teachings of Pope Benedict XVI, which call for placing the human person at the center of economic life…
“Workers need to have a real voice and effective protections in economic life,” said Bishop Murphy. “The market, the state, and civil society, unions and employers all have roles to play and they must be exercised in creative and fruitful interrelationships. Private action and public policies that strengthen families and reduce poverty are needed. New jobs with just wages and benefits must be created so that all workers can express their dignity through the dignity of work and are able to fulfill God’s call to us all to be co-creators. A new social contract, which begins by honoring work and workers, must be forged that ultimately focuses on the common good of the entire human family.”
New jobs…just wages and benefits….the dignity of work. Good message, bishops. Stay on it.