As we celebrate Labor Day it is good to remind ourselves that work is a fundamental right and good for the human person. Work is an appropriate way for one to give expression to and enhance his or her human dignity. The Church teaches the value of work comes from its nature as something necessary. Work is needed to form and maintain a family, to have a right to property, and to contribute to the common good of the human family.
The economic well-being of a country is not measured exclusively by the quantity of goods it produces but also by taking into account the manner in which they are produced and the level of equity in the distribution of income, which should allow everyone access to what is necessary for their personal development and growth.
Based on principles of solidarity and subsidiarity this best takes place by people working together on the local level. The Church’s consistent teaching, since Rerum Novarum in 1891 supports the rights of workers to choose whether to organize, join unions and bargain collectively and to exercise these rights without reprisal. Workers, owners, employers and unions should work together to create decent jobs, build a more just economy and advance the common good. At their best, labor unions embody solidarity and subsidiarity while advancing the common good. They help workers "not only have more, but above all be more... [and] realize their humanity more fully in every respect."
Covid has certainly been a challenge for many workers and employers. Many have lost jobs, many have had to work from home, many struggle to balance the needs of family with the demands of work. While unemployment benefits have been a lifeline for many, they have discouraged some from returning to work. Difficulty in filling positions have resulted in a more just wage for many service providers. As we make our way through Covid, let us strive to hold up the value of work and find ways to ensure work always adds to the dignity of the human person.