Roman Catholicism

Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

A Statement of the U.S. Bishops

"All people have the right to economic initiative, to productive work, to just wages and benefits to decent working conditions, as well as to organize and join unions or other associations." More at:

(A Catholic Framework for Economic Life, A Statement of the U.S. Bishops, 1996)

National Conference of Catholic Bishops

"...The Church fully supports the right of workers to form unions or other associations to secure their rights to fair wages and working conditions. This is a specific application of the more general right to associate....No one may deny the right to organize without attacking human dignity itself. Therefore we firmly oppose organized efforts, such as those regrettably seen in this country, to break existing unions or prevent workers from organizing." More at:

(Economic Justice for All, a pastoral letter of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, 1986)

Pope John Paul II

"Their [unions] task is to defend the existential interests of workers in all sectors where their rights are concerned. The experience of history teaches that organizations of this type are an indispensable element of social life, especially in modern industrialized societies. [Unions] are indeed a mouthpiece for the struggle for social justice, for the just rights of working people in accordance with their individual professions."  More at:

(On Human Work, encyclical of Pope John Paul II, 1981)

"The important role of union organizations must be admitted: their object is the representation of the various categories of workers, their lawful collaboration in the economic advance of society, and the development of the sense of their responsibility for the realization for the common good." More at:

(A Call to Action, encyclical of Pope Paul VI, 1971)

Second Vatican Council

"Among the basic rights of the human person must be counted the right of freely founding labor unions. These unions should be truly able to represent the workers and to contribute to the proper arrangement of economic life. Another such right is that of taking part freely in the activity of these unions without risk of reprisal." More at:

(Pastoral Constitution of the Church in the Modern World, Second Vatican Council, 1965)

Also see: Living Wage: a way to break the chains of poverty

Living Wage


In Catholic teaching, the principle of a living wage is integral to our understanding of human work. Wages must be adequate for workers to provide for themselves and their families in dignity. Because the minimum wage is not a living wage, the Catholic bishops have supported increasing the minimum wage over the decades.

The minimum wage needs to be raised to help restore its purchasing power, not just for the goods and services one can buy but for the self-esteem and self-worth it affords the worker.” More at:

(USCCB, 2006)