Never before has there been such an organisation to carry out a Christian social programme
From Our Own Correspondent
The Christian social apostolate in the United States took another big stride forward when fifteen chapters of the Association of Catholic Trade Unionists, meeting in Cleveland, established the Association of Catholic Trade Unionists on a national basis.
Continuing the work now carried on in New York, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Detroit and other industrial centres, the ACTU is now prepared to bring a Christian influence into the American labour movement on a nation-wide scale.
While individual Catholic labour leaders. and sometimes priests and Bishops, have in the past brought their influence to bear in local labour matters, never before in the history of the American labour movement has there been a national organisation carrying out a well-planned Christian social programme.
, The. ACTU has already made its weight felt wherever it was organised, In raising the moral standards of union policies. In many places Communists and criminal labour leaders have been routed from positions of power, and honest American leadership put in control,
The ACTU convention opened most
auspiciously when Mgr. Joseph Schrembs, Archbishop-Bishop of Cleveland, addressed a diocesan letter to his clergy and faithful, welcoming the delegates to Cleveland, and urging Cleveland Catholics to attend the convention and in every way encourage the work of the ACTU. Greetings were sent to the convention by over a score of Archbishops and Bishops, numbers of clergy, union leaders and others who have followed the work of the group. Articles of federation, uniting the fifteen chapters of the ACTU were adopted at the convention, and a national director, Victor J. Lo Pinto, of the charter chapter in New York, elected. The convention adopted a number of resolutions, among them one urging the unification of the two great labour bodies in the States, the American Federation of Labour and the Congress of Industrial Organisations. Co-operation in the national defence programme was pledged in a second resolution, while a third condemned radicalism of all kinds. Other resolutions adopted set up machinery to carry out national ACTU policies, to tighten up membership requirements, and to expel any members convicted of following the Communist Party line, or of co-operating with criminal elements in unions.
FROM PORTERS TO PROFESSIONALS
Delegates to the convention were members of the American Federation of Labour (AFL), Council for Industrial Organisation (CIO), and bona fide independent unions, and represented a variety of occupations, from semi-skilled labour to professional workers. (In the United States many unions combine within their ranks employees from porters up to professional people, such as newspapermen. civil engineers, etc.) Among the delegates were some with no more than elementary education, and some with college degrees. Mgr. McFadden, Auxiliary Bishop of Cleveland, celebrated Mass on Sunday for the convention, and also on Labour Day, in the absence of Archbishop Schrembs, who was ill. Preacher at the Sunday Mass was Mgr. John A. Ryan, the veteran expert on industrial problems, who urged the delegates to be diligent in spreading their good influence, and to be on guard always against the activities of Communists in unions.
RELIGIOUS NATURE OF WORK
The Rev. Dr John P. Monaghan, Chaplain of the New York ACTU, in his sermon on Labour Day, emphasised the religious nature of the work of the apostolate, and urged the working men apostles to strive to imitate Christ. Fr. Monaghan stressed the importance of personal reform before attempting social reform. Chaplains from other cities with active chapters, such as Fr. Raymond Clancy, of Detroit, and Fr. Charles Owen Rice, of Pittsburgh, reported on the work being done in their cities.
For those who may have missed previous reports in this newspaper on the work of the ACTU, a few words of explanation may be in order.
FIFTEEN NOW AT WORK
Because of arguments presented to the Holy Office in 1885, in the case of the Knights of Labour, by Cardinal Gibbons, the formation of Catholic unions in the United States was not expected by the Holy See. Instead, Catholics were free to join neutral unions, on condition they joined Catholic working men's associations. In 1909 one such association was founded by German Catholics, in the Arbeiterwohl, but this was of limited scope, being confined chiefly to German Catholics in a few cities. The next attempt was made in 1937 by the founders of the ACTU in New York. The ACTU opened its membership to all working men and women who practised their faith regularly, and who were members of
their respective unions. After the New York ACTU had been active for a year or more, other chapters were founded, and now there are fifteen at work.
As explained above, professional workers are mingled with unskilled, semiand skilled labour, Contrary to the opinions of some Europeans engaged in Catholic Action abroad, who disfavoured mingling of professional people (or university people) with lest educated workers, the combination has worked out harmoniously, and to the mutual benefit of all concerned.
BEWARE OF ACTU
The ACTU has already shown its worth in a number of labour disputes. which it
settled peaceably, and also in the reform of several unions. The influence of the organisation was testified to by one of the most prominent Communist' leaders, who advised a friend of his, " Beware of the ACTU; it can make you or break you." The leader well knows that the ACTU has already " broken," i.e.. deposed Communists from seats of power, and It has also " made," i.e., helped to build up, several good unions.
Greetings from the Young Christian Workers of England were sent to the ACTU convention. The Y.C.W. has promised to co-operate with the ACTU in any way which may be possible. The ACTU also received greetings from the Jocists of Canada, and reciprocated in kind.
The ACTU resolved to plan for its own participation in the jubilee celebration of Rerun Novarum and the decennial celebration of Quadragesinto Anna, to take place next May.