The following is an excerpt of the August 13 statement for Labor Day published on the website of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.
“Millions of Americans suffer from unemployment, underemployment or are living in poverty as their basic needs too often go unmet. This represents a serious economic and moral failure for our nation,” wrote the committee’s chairman, Bishop Stephen Blaire of Stockton, California, in the statement, Placing Work and Workers at the Center of Economic Life.
Bishop Blaire cited the 12 million Americans officially unemployed, the millions more who are underemployed or who have given up looking for work, 10 million “working poor” families, and 46 million people, including 16 million children, living in poverty as a sign of a broken economy.
He cited the words of Pope Benedict XVI, who said poverty often “results from a violation of the dignity of human work,” either because of a lack of job opportunities or because, in the words of Pope John Paul II, “low value is put on work and the rights that flow from it.”
According to Bishop Blaire, the “terrible human costs” of a broken economy include workers being exploited or mistreated, stagnant or falling wages, and stress on families.
As a result, “many employees struggle for just wages, a safe workplace, and a voice in the economy, but they cannot purchase the goods they make, stay in the hotels they clean, or eat the food they harvest, prepare, or serve.”
The full 2012 Labor Day statement can be found here.