UPDATE (June 25): The Minnesota Newspaper Guild reports five members in The Catholic Spirit bargaining unit have been laid off. The remaining eight have until the end of the week to decide whether or not to accept non-union positions in the archdiocese’s Office of Communications starting July 2.
The Guild contends the archdiocese violated a provision of its contract requiring 30-days notice for any layoffs.
The layoffs hit four full-time workers and one part-time sales representative. Two of the full-time workers had given more than 27 years of service to The Catholic Spirit; two others had 11-plus years of service. They received checks for severance pay, accrued vacation and wages through the end of this week.
Both workers quoted in this story received layoff notices.
With the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis set to dissolve their union at the end of the month, workers at The Catholic Spirit newspaper took their concerns directly to the church Sunday, protesting outside morning mass at the Cathedral of St. Paul.
The protest – organized by the St. Paul Regional Labor Federation and the Minnesota Newspaper Guild, which has represented workers at The Catholic Spirit since 1965 – drew about 50 supporters from the faith and labor communities.
Protesters talked with parishioners about the archdiocese’s refusal to honor Catholic Spirit workers’ request to keep their collective bargaining rights – a decision, workers say, that ignores church teachings regarding the value of labor unions and collective bargaining in a socially just workplace.
“I sure don’t refer to this as social justice, if this is how you treat people that have worked for you for as many years as we have,” Catholic Spirit employee Marilyn Rivera said. “I think it’s pretty un-Christian, to be honest with you.”
Deb Rotter, who has worked at The Catholic Spirit for 28 years, said she is “heartbroken” by the archdiocese’s decision to walk away from nearly 50 years of collective bargaining with the Guild. She said workers are still waiting for an explanation from Archbishop John Nienstedt.
“I’m very disappointed in him,” Rotter said. “I don’t understand why he’s treating us this way, and I’m heartbroken.”
The Guild is asking supporters to contact Archbishop Nienstedt and ask him to respect The Catholic Spirit workers’ request to keep their union. To reach the archbishop, call (651) 291-4511, or fill out the e-mail form on the archbishop’s website.