WASHINGTON (August 17, 1999) -- Organized labor has made significant contributions to social justice in the United States over the last century, and the nation continues to need a strong labor movement, said Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles in the Bishops' annual Labor Day statement.
"Many of the values imbedded in the labor movement's search for social justice reflect our own faith values, as we seek public policies that protect and promote strong families, expand a stable middle-class, create decent jobs, and reduce the level of poverty and need in our society," said Cardinal Mahony, Chairman of the U.S. Catholic Conference Domestic Policy Committee.
Despite the fact that the U.S. economy is booming, the gap in family income continues to widen. The nation's wealthiest 5 percent took 24 percent of personal income in 1996 compared to a 16 percent share in 1968. Over the same period, the share of income going to people in the middle 60 percent has declined by nearly 10 percent.
"This trend is part of the reason why we need a strong, active, democratic labor movement," Cardinal Mahony said.
He said the contribution of organized labor to economic justice in the United States can be seen in the landmark laws which have been enacted over the last 100 years, in large part because of the efforts of unions:
- Social Security, which has helped reduce poverty rates among the elderly, provided benefits for those who are disabled, and lifted more than a million children each year out of poverty following the death of a parent.
- the minimum wage act protects workers and their families from economic exploitation be requiring a common wage floor.
- the Earned Income Credit (EITC) allows low-income families to augment their income through the income tax system.
- the Family and Medical Leave Act permits workers to take time off from work to care for themselves and their families.
The full text of Cardinal Mahony's Labor Day Statement is available on the Web at: www.nccbuscc.org/sdwp/laborday99.htm