Monday, March 10, 2008

The Smear Goes On

Some of you may remember this post about the teachers and my diocese, The Diocese of Scranton. Well since then, the battle has continued to rage on. The teachers have walked out shutting down Holy Redeemer High School for one day, and some of the students walked out of class last week to show their "support" for the underpaid teachers.

This week, to further smear the Diocese and our Bishop, the union invited the parents of the catholic school students to an "informational meeting" which really turned out to be a rally for the union. And some 750 parents, unfaithful catholics all, attended that meeting yesterday with the teachers and union to see what they had to say.

If the Bishop wanted to have a one day class on the Cathechism of the Catholic Church I wonder if so many of them would have been there.

The Diocese has put together this fact sheet to answer the misinformation smear campaign by the teachers union. Let me know your thoughts.

Diocese of Scranton
Response to Misinformation Campaign

We understand that parents of Catholic school students are being asked to participate in a meeting this Sunday, March 9, with members of SDACT. For the past several weeks, SDACT has issued many statements with much misinformation and numerous false accusations about Bishop Martino’s decision on personnel practices in Catholic schools. It is expected that the leadership of SDACT will continue this misinformation campaign at Sunday’s meeting and beyond. In order to help everyone understand the real issues and the real numbers involved, the following fact sheet is provided:

Facts Regarding False Accusations
Made by Scranton Diocese Association of Catholic Teachers

SDACT Accusation: The Diocese of Scranton has acted in violation of Church teaching on unions; especially the 1891 encyclical of Pope Leo XIII entitled Rerum Novarum. (On Capital and Labor)

Fact: Rerum Novarum shows no objection to programs such as the diocesan Employee Relations Program. Paragraph 49 reads, “…it is most clearly necessary that workers’ associations be adapted to meet the present need. It is gratifying that societies of this kind composed of either workers alone or of workers and employers together are being formed everywhere, and it is truly to be desired that they grow in number and in active vigor.” [Emphasis added] Neither the civil law nor the Canon Law of the Catholic Church require the recognition of unions in Catholic schools. A union, then, is not required, essential or mandated.

SDACT Accusation: By not recognizing SDACT, the Diocese of Scranton is now out of the Catholic mainstream. Moreover, contrary to the above citation from Rerum Novarum, SDACT claims that a union is “the only real representation that provides for justice and dignity for workers anywhere.”

Fact: Not every diocese has a union in its Catholic schools. In Pennsylvania alone, where unions have a long history in secular employment, teachers laboring in the dioceses of Harrisburg and Erie are not unionized. Other dioceses in the nation do not have unions. Are all of them violating Catholic teaching? Are they denying justice and dignity to their workers? While unions are appropriate in some situations, they are not the only means to achieve justice for workers. By establishing the Employee Relations Program, the Diocese of Scranton has shown a commitment to Catholic social teaching consonant with other Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania and the nation as a whole.

SDACT Accusation: Teachers in Diocesan Catholic schools are grossly underpaid. Although money is not their primary aim, they need a union to ensure they are paid a “living wage.”

Fact: On February 28, classes at Holy Redeemer High School in Wilkes-Barre had to be cancelled because a majority of the teachers refused to report for work. The average salary for the 67 full-time teachers at Holy Redeemer is $49,100. This does not include administrators. Salaries for teachers range from $23,400 to $61,465. The various salary ranges and the number of teachers in each range are:

15 teachers: $60,000 - $70,000
15 teachers: $50,000 - $60,000
20 teachers: $40,000 - $50,000
11 teachers: $30,000 - $40,000
6 teachers: $20,000 - $30,000 (these are first- and second-year teachers)

These figures do not include health care benefits, which total $536,946. This is the amount paid by the Diocese; it does not include the employee contribution. In addition, children of Holy Redeemer teachers who attend Catholic schools are receiving free tuition totaling $146,000.

SDACT Accusation: The Diocese has hired a “union busting” firm, and/or used anti-union websites, to help shape its personnel practices.

Fact: The Diocese has not hired a “union busting” firm, nor used anti-union websites or other such resources. The Diocese does consult with a Wilkes-Barre law firm specializing in labor relations, just as SDACT consults with a Philadelphia law firm with expertise in this area of the law.

SDACT Accusation: The Diocesan Employee Relations Program is a sham, and representatives on the program’s Employee Councils were hand picked by the Diocese or the school administrations, or somehow were coerced into participating.

Fact: Representatives for the Employee Councils were chosen by their peers. Each school was instructed to conduct a secret ballot election to accomplish this. The Employee Relations Program covers teachers as well as support staff such as aides, administrators, office staff, cafeteria staff and maintenance personnel. The program involves the formation of Employee Councils, Wage and Benefit Committees, Health Care Sub-Committees and Grievance Committees for each of the four regional school systems that were established last year in the restructuring of Diocesan Catholic schools.

SDACT Accusation: When Bishop Martino stated in a letter published in local newspapers that “This association’s leaders have reasons based on self-interest for wanting to retain their role in some of our schools,” SDACT President Michael Milz charged that this was a “despicable” union-busting tactic. In a subsequent letter to the Bishop, Mr. Milz claimed that “We do not request recognition out of greed or avarice…”

Fact: Prior to the decision regarding its recognition, SDACT’s dues-paying membership had significantly declined from 282 in 2001 to 219 in 2007. There are currently 713 lay teachers employed in the Diocese of Scranton. Despite the 63-person reduction in membership, SDACT’s leadership received the following annual stipends:

Michael Milz, as executive vice president of National Association of Catholic Schools Teachers: $25,660

Michael Milz, as president of SDACT: $12,872

Jim Lynch, as vice president of SDACT: $5,000

(Source: Form LM-3 Labor Organization Annual Report, U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Labor-Management Standards, as of Dec. 31, 2006 – the most recent period for which data is available.)

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