Action Call: Labor Priests Supporting Striking Workers:
Here in Chicago we have had 26 downtown hotels on strike. As of today, there is 1 hold out. Rallies are being planned. The other 25 settled and met the demands of the workers for year-round health care. (They were cutting off health care in the slower winter months.) The strike at this final hotel is in its 7th week. Our local Labor priests and local Interfaith Worker Justice group (ARISE Chicago) have been very helpful. Cardinal Cupich honored the strike when he moved the luncheon for our new auxiliary bishops and their guests from one of the hotels and moved it to Catholic Charities. No one crossed the picket line. This gesture was noted by all of Chicago Labor and much appreciated. Bishop Kane, one of our auxiliary bishops, who chairs the Archdiocese-Labor Working Group sent a great letter to all pastors and archdiocesan agency directors advising them of the strike, reminding them to honor the picket lines, withdraw events from affected hotels, and be ready to help families affected by the strike. His letter is attached here. Very powerful moment for us here.
As of today, there are strikes at Marriott hotels across the country in Boston, Detroit, Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose, San Diego, Honolulu and Maui. Seattle was on the verge, but Marriott met the workers’ demands there and the workers will vote this coming Friday to ratify a new contract. We had a great team of priests lined up in Seattle ready to assist. Last week in San Jose, Fr. Jon Pedigo led a procession and had a mass with the workers there. Labor leaders are reaching out to our Labor priests’ network in all these key cities
This coming Saturday, Oct. 20th, there will be rallies in all of these cities: Boston at Copley Plaza at 2:00 p.m.; Detroit at Westin Book Cadillac at 4:00 p.m.; at the Oakland Marriott City Center at 2:00 p.m.; in San Francisco at Local 2 Plaza at 9:00 a.m.; in San Jose at San Jose Marriott at 4:30 p.m.; at San Diego Civic Center at 5:00 p.m. and at Sheraton Princess Kaiulani in Honolulu at 11:30. All priests are welcomed to ” go to the worker” as Pope Leo XIII exhorted.
Workers at these hotels are also calling upon faith leaders to sign a pledge of support, and to decline the Green Choice program now and in the future. I am attaching materials about this campaign here and here.
Most Rev. Francis Kane, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdioceses of Chicago, contributed a letter encouraging support of the strikers, including a straight forward request to not cross picket lines, praying for a quick resolution.
Please also read my letter asking for your support for the striking Marriott workers.
Catholic Labor Network:
Our Priest-Labor initiative is working with the Catholic Labor Network in the development of a proposal to the Catholic Campaign for Human Development to develop stronger local programs for workers based in our parishes. This would also involve the training of priests and deacons for this collaboration.
Collaboration with Labor Movement:
This year we have seen greater outreach of Catholic clergy in Labor Day events, workers’ masses, and memorials for workers who died in work-related accidents. Bishop Robert McElroy worked with the Central Labor Council and UNITE HERE Local 1 leader, Bridget Browning, to re-establish Labor Day in San Diego. Dissemination of the Bishops’ Annual Labor Day message has been an important focus for us. Fr. Mike Seavey (Portland, Me) gave a stirring address at the rally in front of the Supreme Court in defense of the American Labor Movement during the Janus hearing. Fr. Clete Kiley (Chicago) was a featured speaker at the Illinois/Chicago Labor rally in support of Labor against the Janus decision. Fr. Jon Pedigo (San Jose) has been helping local unions in California, Hawaii and Nevada strengthen relationships with faith communities. Fr. Tony Shonis (Owensboro) recently addressed the Central Labor Council in Western Kentucky.
Immigration Issues and Labor Priests:
Many of our Labor priests are also deeply concerned about a range of immigration related issues. Catholic priests have joined with immigration advocates in protecting workers from work place immigration raids, family separations, “know-your-rights” initiatives. Recent workplace raids in Ohio saw unions, such as UFCW, working with the local Catholic parish to attend to families impacted by work place raids. In Philadelphia, Labor priests Bob Bonnot (Youngstown), Bernie Survil (Greensburg), and Efren Esmilia (Philadelphia) joined a rally organized by national Labor unions, the Philadelphia Central Labor Council and the Philadelphia Building Trades. Catholic priests and Catholic Bishop Edward Deliman (Philadelphia) were on the dais along with the President of the National Council of Churches, representatives of the USCCB, and a broad range of interfaith leaders. This was to protest ” immigrant children in cages,” family separation and continued workplace raids.
Fr. Clete Kiley
Priest-Labor Initiative/ @ NFPC