Monday, September 21, 2015

Pope's visit offers hope for workers

Pope Francis arrives in the United States tomorrow, and whether you are a member of the Catholic faith or not, there is reason to be excited. For more than maybe any other global leader, the pope is a friend of workers worldwide.

Since being selected as the leader of Roman Catholics in 2013, the pope has made it his mission to stand up for the downtrodden. He has been an outspoken advocate
Low-wage workers protest in front of the Capitol in July.
for workers and unions and a vocal critic of the growing issue of income inequality.

In fact, earlier this year, Pope Francis called on world leaders to create new working opportunities for the people of the world:
I wish to extend an invitation to everyone to greater solidarity and to encourage those in public office to spare no effort to give new impetus to employment. This means caring for the dignity of the person.
... Today many social, political and economic systems have chosen to exploit the human person ... not paying a just (wage), not offering work, focusing solely on the balance sheets, the company's balance sheets, only looking at how much I can profit. This goes against God!
It is a message many are hopeful he will continue to address we he arrives in Washington, D.C. tomorrow afternoon and later speaks not only to President Obama, but before Congress as well. The pope will later head to Philadelphia and New York City.

Pope Francis, however, is not the only religious leader taking on big business. In fact, Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich last week challenged the policies of Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner when he spoke out against so-called right-to-work.

Speaking at the Plumbers Hall in Chicago last Thursday, Bishop Cupich said the labor movement is essential to balancing out power in the workplace:
Work and unions are important not simply for what a worker 'gets,' but how they enable a
worker to provide for a family and participate in the workplace and society. Unions are important not simply for helping workers get more, but helping workers be more, to have a voice, a place to make a contribution to the good of the whole enterprise, to fellow workers and the whole of society.
The Teamsters could not agree more. That's why we released our new "Let's Get America Working" platform earlier this month, and it's why we've called on lawmakers, both Democrat and Republican, to work hard to implement it so workers can earn a fair wage and the economy can prosper.

Instituting such a program is going to take a lot of effort. That's why those advocating for workers are trying to appeal to the better angels in us all. The Teamsters welcome the efforts of Pope Francis, Bishop Cupich and all those in the faith community who see value in hardworking people all over the world. And we urge them to continue with the fight for justice.