The union movement has grown steadily weaker over the last thirty years. This bad development has been assisted along the way by corporate hostility and by an indifferent media. In my opinion, all of us should be more appreciative of the sacrifices made for the common good by construction workers. Everyone has heard about the electrician or the plumber who is highly paid when their wages are figured by the hour, but the real test of how good his income is would be a question of how much he worked in the course of the year. Construction is a painfully on and off situation as jobs begin and end quickly, and they do not do that neatly one right after the other.
• Nearly 45% of construction workers live below the poverty line.
• One in five construction workers has experienced wage theft in Austin, Texas.
• 76% of construction workers do not have health insurance.
• Every 2.5 days a construction worker dies on the job in Texas.
There were 141 construction deaths in Texas. The next largest was California at 58. Why the difference?
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Over the last 100 years, there has been a strong tie between American Catholic citizens and the Democratic Party. Catholic immigrants, sensed early that union membership would help them to progress economically, and the democratic party was a strong supporter of unions. This informal alliance was only natural. In other important areas, such as racial relations, opposition to the death penalty, and health care for all, that bond only strengthened. However, roughly 20 years ago, a real rift has developed. The Democratic party in its national platforms, has consistently espoused a women’s right to choose, while the Republican party has decided to take a powerful anti-abortion stance. For many Catholic democrats, this has created a very real tension. They like so much about what the party has accomplished since the 1920′s, yet they cannot see themselves as being on the side of a group that takes a pro-abortion stance.
Nevertheless, many Democrats stayed with the party, and started their own group- the pro-life Democrats. Now, however, a new situation has developed that makes it even more difficult for Catholics. The recently enacted legislation for national health care had a great deal of Roman Catholic support, but very real problems are presenting themselves as the regulations are developed. There is an old saying in politics, “the devil is in the regs”…
The Obama administration is directing that all hospitals, social service entities, clinics, etc., that provide health insurance to their employees must cover contraception and abortion. The Catholic Bishops have repeatedly urged the administration to grant an exclusion for entities in this country that find this policy morally objectionable and immoral. As of this date, the administration has refused.
25% of the electorate in this country is Roman Catholic. I think that the Democrats are making a very bad political judgement, and, from my Catholic prospective, an even worse moral judgement.
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