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Wouldn’t It Be Good If More Of This Happened: Chicago Archbishop Enters Political Battle Over Unions, Stands With Labor & Blasts GOP Governor’s Anti-Union Agenda

Published Friday, September 18, 2015
by chicago.suntimes.com/news

(CHICAGO) - Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich waded into Springfield’s political morass Thursday (September 17th), standing firmly with Organized Labor as he blasted a linchpin of Republican Governor Bruce Rauner’s pro-business agenda.

Speaking at a Union Hall on the West Side - addressing a crowd that included Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, former Governor Pat Quinn and Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez - Cupich criticized Right-To Work Laws (for less), which Governor Rauner is a key proponent of, without mentioning Rauner by name.

“Others may see it differently, but history has shown that a society with a ‘healthy, effective and responsible’ Labor Movement is a better place than one where other ‘powerful’ economic interests ‘have their way’ and the ‘voices and rights’ of Workers are ‘diminished,’” Cupich said during a speech at Chicago Journeymen Plumbers Local 130.

Cupich’s remarks, coming on the eve of Pope Francis’ visit to the U.S. next week, drew a prolonged standing ovation.

Cupich, in a wide-ranging Pro-Union speech that also dealt with Immigrant Rights, said the Catholic Church can’t weigh in on every issue - but must do so when it sees “fundamental values being threatened or undermined.”

“The church is ‘duty-bound’ to challenge such efforts, by raising questions based on long-standing principles,” Cupich said. “We have to ask, do these measures undermine the capacity of Unions to Organize?  Do such laws ‘protect the weak and the vulnerable?’  Do they ‘promote’ the ‘dignity’ of work and the ‘rights’ of Workers?  Do they ‘promote’ a ‘more just’ society and a ‘more fair’ economy?”

In an almost 40-minute speech, Cupich made frequent reference to the Dignity and Rights of Workers, and spoke of the “proud tradition of collaboration and common commitment between Labor and the church.”

“I come here to offer my friendship and my support as Chicago’s new Archbishop and to renew an essential relationship between the Catholic Church and the Labor Movement,” he said.

Cupich has previously met with Rauner and even gave the invocation at the governor’s inauguration.  While he’s raised questions before about the effect of Rauner’s policies, Cupich’s remarks on Thursday marked his strongest comments yet on a political battleground issue that’s key to both Rauner and the Democrats.

He joked that he’d received plenty of advice since arriving in Chicago and Cupich said he took the advice to mean the importance of partnering with business, government and Labor: “I want the Church to become an ‘even more committed partner’ in this civic solidarity.”

Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT0 President Dan Montgomery said the supportive remarks were uplifting to members: “To have the new Archbishop come in and say ‘very definitively, very strongly’ - we ‘stand with you’ for the Rights of Workers, and we ‘need’ to have ‘solidarity’ and build up our communities, it was a ‘real shot in the arm.’  Workers feel ‘under attack.’  Your Workers ‘don’t have to fail’ for you to ‘do well.’  I think this is ‘one of the lessons’ that I would like the governor to take away.”

When Cupich told Workers that the Church, the Pope and the Archbishop himself were behind Organized Labor, “there was a palpable sense of ‘yes,’ ” finally someone outside of Labor expressed support, he said.

To Read the Rest of This Labor News Story, Go to: http://chicago.suntimes.com/news/7/71/968206/archbishop-cupich-enters-political-battle-unions

 

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