SITUATIONAL SOCIAL JUSTICE
From the President of the
National Catholic Association of School Teachers
This school year, I have
done quite a bit of traveling and have sent and received a large number
of e-mails and calls, mainly to and from St. Louis, Missouri and
Massachusetts. The main issue in both places has been the
and utter failure of both Archdioceses to follow the social justice
of the Catholic Church.
Let's first take a look
at Boston, where the NCEA Convention is taking place this April.
Boston, the home of the Boston Archdiocesan Teachers Association, which
has represented the high school lay teachers for thirty years and
them well. The master contract covering the eight Archdiocesan
schools is set to expire in August. When BATA seeks to open
for a new Agreement, it is told that the schools are going to become
in September of 2004. It might look that way to the Archdiocesan
officials, but to the rest of the world everything they read and hear
pointing to Archdiocesan business as usual.
has been unable to open negotiations with the Archdiocese. It has
also been ignored by the individual schools that are supposedly going
These same schools have passed on information during faculty meetings
the Archdiocese will still be running the show and BATA will no longer
be recognized as the teachers' bargaining representative.
to say, you will not find the approval of such "union busting" in Canon
Law, papal encyclicals or U.S. Bishops' Pastorals, but that is what is
becoming Archdiocesan policy in Boston.
probably be necessary for the Boston Archdiocesan Teachers Association
to file grievances in order to protect the teachers and the
BATA may also be forced to initiate court action to keep the provisions
of their contract from being torn apart and the teachings of the Church
from being turned upside down.
Next stop, St.
where there has been an ongoing campaign by the Association of Catholic
Elementary Educators to bring collective bargaining to elementary
in the Archdiocese. Since August, ACEE, under the leadership of
Mary Chubb, has been contacting pastors and informing them that their
want to be represented by a teacher association and they want to
a contract. Thus far, pastors have said they know what is best
their teachers and that is the diocesan controlled Compensation
which is asked for salary input only. Job security, a grievance
and working conditions which the Vicar for Education states "are best
at the local parish school level," are not addressed at all.
In a December 19,
Memo and attached question and answer sheet from Vicar for Education,
Bob Hermann, all pastors, principals and teachers are told that "The
will not recognize formally any intermediary organization to
in this process and it will not enter into a collective bargaining
with a union or other organization representing teachers." They
then told that it is strongly recommended that parishes not recognize
union or bargain separately either. "Every pastor should know
a shadow of doubt that he does not have any moral obligation to
any union for collective bargaining purposes..."
How do Bishop
words in St. Louis compare with the U.S. Bishops' pronouncements from
Pastoral, Economic Justice for All: Catholic Social Teaching and the
"All Church institutions must also
recognize the rights of employees to organize and bargain collectively
within the institution through whatever organization they freely
"All the moral principles that govern the just operation of any
endeavor apply to the church and its agencies and institutions; indeed,
the church should be exemplary."
It would seem that
Archdioceses of Boston and St. Louis are engaged in a classic game of
social justice." Does anyone see a problem here?