The Church and Ethics in Construction

The Church and Ethics in Construction

“History attests what excellent results were effected by the artificer’s guilds of a former day. They were means not only of many advantages to the workmen, but in no small degree to the advancement of art, as numerous monuments remain to prove. Such associations should be adapted to the requirements of the age in which we live… It is gratifying to know that there are actually in existence not a few societies of this nature, consisting either of workmen alone, or of workmen and employers together; but it were greatly to be desired that they should multiply and become more effective.” Leo XII, Rerum Novarum

Unions in the Building Trades hold a unique position in American labor, fulfilling the vision of Catholic social teaching in a special way. More than any other labor organizations in our nation they have conserved the excellence of the “artificer’s guilds” that Leo so greatly admired and from whose roots these unions sprung. In those places in our nation where labor unions have flourished in construction, they have guaranteed to working men and women in the trades not only a fair wage but have contributed “in no small way” to the advancement of their “art.” In jointly administered Apprenticeship programs and other skill and training initiatives, union workers in every construction trade come together with their employers to improve the quality of work in their craft.

In several Dioceses across the nation the Church has recognized this fact and implemented policies favoring the employment of union building contractors employing union construction labor when building or renovating church buildings, schools, and other Diocesan properties. Like the workers’ associations themselves it is greatly desired that these should multiply and be made more effective! Links to some of these model policies may be found below.

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