In a full page ad purchased in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the iconic Polish trade union, Solidarity, expressed heartfelt support for Wisconsin workers who are protesting against their governor’s plan to strip their union of its collective bargaining rights.
Piotr Duda, head of the trade union whose protests in Poland in the early 1980’s helped lead to the downfall of Soviet communism, wrote in the ad:
“Dear Sisters and Brothers,
On behalf of the 700,000 members of the Polish Trade Union NSZZ “Solidarnosc” (“Solidarity”) I wish to express our solidarity and support for your struggle against the recent assault on trade unions and trade union rights unleashed by Governor Scott Walker.
We are witnessing yet another attempt of transferring the costs of the economic crisis and of the failed financial policies to working people and their families. As much as some adjustments are necessary, we can not and must not agree that the austerity measures are synonymous with union busting practices, the elimination of bargaining rights and the reduction of social benefits and wages.
Dear Friends, please rest assured that our thoughts are with you during your protest, as we truly do hope that your just fight for the workers’ rights will be successful.
Your victory is our victory as well. We will continue to watch the developments there and please keep us informed of any other ways, you think we could be of assistance.
Associate professor of Christian social ethics at Saint Joseph’s University, Gerald J. Beyer wrote in Politics Daily: Just as the church leaders stood up for Polish Solidarity in the last century, Archbishop Jerome Listecki of Milwaukee has raised his voice. In a recent statement, he quoted Pope Benedict XVI, who has argued that unions are more necessary than ever in the global economy, especially given the tendency of governments to limit the “negotiating capacity” of workers in the name of “economic utility.”
Listecki also cited John Paul II’s positive appraisal of the role that unions play in promoting social justice and the common good. The archbishop exhorted his fellow citizens to realize that “hard times do not nullify the moral obligation each of us has to respect the legitimate rights of workers” and that it is wrong to “marginalize or dismiss unions as impediments to economic growth.” (Read more of Politics Daily, Poland in 1980 and Wisconsin in 2011)