The Vatican has again turned down
the attempt of some Archdiocesan elementary school teachers to unionize. From the STLToday
St. Louis Catholic elementary school teachers said Tuesday that the Vatican’s supreme court has ruled against them a third and final time in their effort to be recognized as a union.
The Association of Catholic Elementary Educators had asked the church body in Rome to review a 2004 declaration by Archbishop Raymond Burke. In a letter to teachers, Burke had declared that the archdiocese will not bargain collectively with any teachers organization.
Mary Chubb, president of the association, said the panel of judges has rejected the group’s final appeal. Chubb said she’s not sure what this means for the organization; it has been fighting to represent teachers for 12 years.
Bishop Robert Hermann, vicar for Catholic education, issued a statement Tuesday endorsing the Parish Teacher Committee of the St. Louis Archdiocese as the best way to involve elementary teachers in negotiating compensation.
I have followed this story on and off for a number of years; my mother was an elementary school teacher in the Archdiocese for many years, and I have previously served on Parish school boards. This news is welcome, and should not be surprising. It used to be common knowledge that Catholic education (good Catholic education) required real sacrifices– from the parents who paid tuition in addition to the taxes that fund the public schools, to the teachers (first religious, then lay) who worked for pay far less than they could get at the public schools, to the parishes, who subsidized the schools to ease the burdens for the parents and teachers.
Well, as the Catholicity of the education given ebbs away, and all involved treat the schools more and more as mere private schools, the commitment to sacrifice (not just teachers, all parties) also ebbs away– parents have a hard time making ends meet and often have to cut costs; teachers seek more money to make ends meet also and thus seek higher wages, and parishes strapped for cash also cut subsidies to the schools, and make them pay-as-you-go affairs.
It is not that one cannot identify with teachers who seek a more “free market” wage, it is just that with the dearth of religious sisters and their enormous charity of the past in teaching for little pay, should the teachers unionize it would cause what is left of Catholic education to enter into a fight for survival.