Catholic hospitals and labor: A velvet revolution?


WASHINGTON -- In what could mark the start of a velvet revolution in labor relations at Catholic hospitals, a national task force of bishops, labor leaders and Catholic health care leaders has proposed a new framework for employees to determine whether they wish to unionize or not.

Titled “Respecting the Just Rights of Workers,” the 16-page proposal asks Catholic health care employers and the unions seeking to represent their workers to enter a mutually binding agreement for fair and expeditious representation elections.

Torture survivors testify at human rights hearing


WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Torture survivors and advocates implored Congress June 25 to investigate allegations of military torture of war prisoners, saying that the U.S. must be an example for other countries in respect for human rights.

The hearing, sponsored by Rep. James McGovern, D-Mass., chair of the Congressional Human Rights Commission, was one of several programs held June 25-27 in observance of the Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition's annual Torture Awareness Month.

The panel members declared that Congress and President Barack Obama's administration must take concrete action in investigating and prosecuting torture in order to uphold accountability in the world.

"These are issues, not abstractions. ... We know that there is considerable value in precise information," said Felice Gaer, head of the American Jewish Committee's human rights institute.

But, Gaer added, simply gathering facts about abuse is not enough.

"Countries need to recognize these obligations and live up to these obligations," she said.

On labor issues, bishops say one thing, do another



On June 22, 2009, “Respecting the Just Right of Workers: Guidance and Options for Catholic Health Care and Unions” was released by a Coalition consisting of the AFL-CIO, SEIU International, Catholic Health Association and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The National association of Catholic School Teachers, a national union representing teachers in Catholic elementary and secondary schools, takes issue with the members of the Bishops’ Conference because of their negligence in the application of Catholic social teaching when their fellow bishops are involved, especially in regard to employees most directly under the bishops’ control, in particular, Catholic school teachers.

People of faith demand universal health care


WASHINGTON -- Washington's sweltering heat did its best to discourage people of faith from gathering at Freedom Plaza to participate in the Interfaith Service of Witness and Prayer for Health Care for All June 24.

Regardless of the weather, nearly 1,000 people convened between the White House and the Capitol -- armed with water bottles, umbrellas and matching paper fans bearing a message about reform -- to ensure politicians hear their calls for universal health care.

Bishopsí labor document seen as breakthrough



A new U.S. bishops’ document aimed at improving long-troubled labor relations in Catholic health care “is an enormous breakthrough,” said Manhattan College religious studies professor Joseph J. Fahey, chairman of Catholic Scholars for Worker Justice.

“This is a milestone event,” said union leader Gerald M. Shea, assistant for government affairs to AFL-CIO president John Sweeney.

“It’s just stunning,” said John Carr, secretary for justice, peace and human development at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. “I mean, you have the highest levels of the labor movement and the Catholic Church reaching an agreement when nobody else can, and it’s a wonderful process.”

The 16-page document, released June 22 by the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, is titled “Respecting the Just Rights of Workers: Guidance and Options for Catholic Health Care and Unions.” It is available on the Web.

Labor unions, Catholic hospitals reach agreement



The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has announced a new step forward for workers at Catholic health facilities: a set of principles to ensure that workers have a fair process to bargain for a better life.

In “Respecting the Just Rights of Workers: Guidance and Options for Catholic Health Care and Unions,” the USCCB, in cooperation with Catholic health care providers and the union movement, has laid out guidelines for Catholic health care ministries across the country.

The document means that labor unions and Catholic leaders have reached an agreement designed to end years of bitter hostilities that often surrounded union efforts to organize workers at Catholic hospitals.

"The central actors in these dramas have to be the workers themselves, that's what we feel is the strength of the document," said Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington, D.C., who helped lead the discussions.

The accord, announced Monday, seeks to apply Catholic teachings that recognize the right of workers to "freely and fairly" decide whether to join a union.

The new guidelines cover seven principles for employers when workers seek a union:


Keeping Catholic priorities on the table


WASHINGTON -- As they work with lawmakers this summer to help craft health care reform legislation, Catholic health ministry leaders say they will push for measures that will sustain principles of human dignity and justice, and extend coverage to the nation’s poor and vulnerable.

“It’s going to be a work in progress,” said Charity Sr. Carol Keehan, president and CEO of the Catholic Health Association. The organization is not supporting a particular legislative model, but will evaluate each alternative in terms of its potential to deliver cost-effective, quality care to everyone who needs it.

Catholic health providers meet in uncertain climate


Health care reform legislation now being drafted on Capitol Hill will likely include broad, sweeping measures with significant implications for providers, Catholic Health Association experts told health ministry leaders gathered Monday for a panel session at the annual Catholic Health Assembly in New Orleans. But it will take some time before the bill’s many “building blocks” and “moving pieces” settle into place.

With an early draft expected to be released next week, public plan options to expand health coverage, an individual mandate that would impose an insurance requirement on all Americans and the challenge of financing coverage will spark intense debate in the coming weeks, said Michael Rodgers, CHA senior vice president of public policy and advocacy. A bill could reach President Obama’s desk by October.

“This is ambitious but doable,” Rodgers said. “Today, certainly, in the White House, we have a president who is going to make this a top priority.”



NCR Email Alerts


In This Issue

June 16-29, 2017