Because many of your readers never see the Brownsville Herald, http://www.brownsvilleherald.com/, I include my latest letter submission below. It is the fruit of the 4th hour of my 24-hour ‘fast’ as part of the LUPE effort, which they describe as including the injustice on the part of the church. (Only 20 hours to go!)
Peace and Justice,
Brownsville Herald - Dec. 10, 2005
To The Editor:
"Three years ago employees at four catholic parishes joined a union with their pastors’ approval after the diocese replaced their pension plan with a plan that pays 30-50% less. One year later a new priest came with orders to fire the employees at one parish, Holy Spirit in McAllen, but was blocked by civil court. This year yet another priest challenged the union contract in a church tribunal. Church tribunal is nothing like civil proceeding; the bishop chose the three judges and the "witnesses", which are not witnesses in the normal sense of the word. There is no appeal. The bishop could control the outcome of the tribunal by his choices, and lo and behold, the contract was declared invalid on a technicality.
The objective observer might think this was a ruse to get rid of any union employees. Church workers are among the most abused in the country. Salary is poor, they do not enjoy the same rights as other workers because of separation of church and state, and they can be fired on a whim. Unionization offers some needed protection. The church says it supports the rights of workers to unionize when faced with unfair labor practices, such as those described in this letter.
Let the church put its money where its mouth is. Bishop Peña, I challenge you to do the right thing and validate the union contract so loyal church workers will be protected from abusive priests. It is the Christian thing to do."
~Guy Hallman, McAllen
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