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 (Updated: Jan 2003)

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The Church and Ethics in Construction

Policy on the Use of Labor in Construction:
Archdiocese of Chicago 

[In 1991, Joseph Cardinal Bernardin established a task force of clergy, construction contractors, trade unionists and public officials, and charged them to propose a policy for the Diocese on the use of union labor in construction. Excerpts of the policy are cited below.]

Certain moral principles that address the rights and duties of workers have an evangelical basis. Accordingly, the Church has a reponsibility to articulate these principles in its social teaching, implement them in its relations with its own direct employees and exercise its influence in applying these principles to its indirect employees.

The Church teaches that workers have a right:

  • to a just wage, that is, remuneration adequate for maintaing ind securing the future for a family (John Paul II, On Human Work, p.46);
  • to social benefits including health care, pension, and security in the events of accident or old age (HW, p.45);
  • to a work place that is "not harmful to the worker's physical health or to their moral integrity" (HW, p.45);
  • to form associations or unions taht defend and promote their interests. These organizations are regarded as an "indespensable element of social life" (HW, p.46)...

The rights of workers delineated in Roman Catholic Social Teaching (and summarized in the premises for this statement) provide the basis for this policy. To the extent that unions in the Chicago area seek to guarantee these principles by providing for things such as a just wage, medical insurance, disability insurance, workers' compensation, unemployment insurance and safe working conditions, the Archdiocese supports them... For projects over $300,000, all contracts are to be union contracts.

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