Open Letter Supporting a Just Employment Policy for Jesuit Institutions

Open Letter Supporting a Just Employment Policy for Jesuit Institutions

“Please, let us fight for this: the justice of work.” Pope Francis, March 23, 2015 Institutions of Jesuit higher education today are beginning to grapple with many of the same forces that are contributing to growing inequality in the United States and around much of the world. The contracting out of employment to private concerns that do not pay living wages and oppose workers’ basic right to organize, the increasing reliance on poorly compensated part-time or contingent employees who lack benefits, and the introduction of new technologies in ways that undermine the human dimension of work threaten the Jesuit character of our institutions and contradict their mission to “educate the whole person.” Our institutions must embrace their responsibilities as both sites of education and as anchor institutions in their communities. We must not operate institutions that provide opportunities for those whom they educate while overlooking the exploitation of those upon whose labor those very institutions depend. We must not operate institutions that set a poor example as employers in our communities. To ensure that our institutions remain faithful to their vision as they navigate the difficult economic terrain of they face, it is vitally important that our institutions commit themselves to a Just Employment Policy that recognizes and affirms these basic principles: The right of all workers to a living wage The right of all workers to a harassment-free and dignified workplace The right to organize and bargain collectively as outlined in the National Labor Relations Act and its jurisprudence The preference for full-time over part-time work Encouraged by the witness that Pope Francis has given against an economy in...
If We Are Who We Say We Are: Justice for Faculty at Loyola University of Chicago

If We Are Who We Say We Are: Justice for Faculty at Loyola University of Chicago

For centuries, the Church has offered a strong and principled vision on the dignity of work and justice for working people. Pope Leo XIII first recognized the right of workers to a living wage, decent working conditions, and the freedom to organize in an 1891 encyclical titled Rerum Novarum. In Laborem Excercens, Pope John Paul II reiterated the importance of organized labor, describing unions as “an indispensable element of social life” (no. 20). As recently as 2009, Pope Benedict XVI echoed his predecessors in calling for an even greater emphasis on the promotion of workers’ associations in Caritas in Veritate (no. 25). Drawing from the Church’s social doctrine, in which the freedom of association is enshrined, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops stated: “No one may deny the right to organize without attacking human dignity itself” (Economic Justice for All, no. 104). When Pope Francis visited Bolivia this past July, he concluded his remarks by reminding the crowd that the very future of humanity “is fundamentally in the hands of peoples and in their ability to organize.” Although the Church has played an important role in the struggle for worker justice, putting these teachings into practice at Catholic institutions often causes tension. Recently, the Loyola University of Chicago decided to oppose an organizing drive among its contingent faculty. Soon after non-tenure-track professors (both adjuncts and full-time) filed for a union election, the University hired an outside firm to curtail the drive and launched a web page with misleading claims about union representation. The most troubling aspect of the University’s response has been its legal position on the matter. University...