The Observer is a student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame, Saint Mary's & Holy Cross. Learn about us.



Stand with HEI

Matt Gore | Thursday, April 15, 2010

Mr. Rivera claimed that HEI’s stand against unionization is against Catholic Social Teaching (“Getting to the real issues behind HEI,” April 13). I would argue, however, that it would be a violation of Catholic social teaching for HEI to extend union power into its own workplace.

In Pope John Paul II’s encyclical on work, he does state a belief in a right to unions. However he also says “Efforts to secure the rights of workers who are united by the same profession should always take into account the limitations imposed by the general economic situation of the country.” Modern unions in the United States have acted far outside of this papal maxim. From the UAW sucking Chrysler and GM dry to public sector unions resisting necessary wage freezes at a time when productive private sector employees are taking pay cuts and layoffs, many unions have continually acted in ways that ignore surrounding economic conditions and hurt entrepreneurs. Recent history suggests that HEI would become just another victim of unions.

Furthermore, modern unions operate outside of the papal maxim that their fight “is not a struggle ‘against’ others.” Time and time again unionized companies lose marketshare to their non-union counterparts because the union makes the manager/worker relationship antagonistic, when it should be a cooperative.

Finally, the Pope’s stance that work is a source of human dignity that should be extended to as many as possible is complicated by modern union action. It was estimated by KKK&S a decade ago that union rules in the hotel industry prevented the creation of 15,000 jobs in just hotel restaurants in 10 cities, not counting losses in other cities or parts of hotel operations. This was during a good economic time, so imagine how many potential jobs were lost in the recession.

While unions a century ago served a vital social purpose, their modern successors have proven to be indefensible from a Catholic perspective. I am proud of this university for standing up to big unions in investing in HEI, and hope it will continue to resist the attacks of self-interested union organizers and well-meaning but misguided students on its investment decisions.

Matt Gore
Stanford Hall
April 13