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February 13, 2018

For more information:
Marlene Mulford: Office:(217) 698-8500
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Statement of Bishop Thomas John Paprocki Regarding USCCB General Counsel’s Legal Brief in the U.S. Supreme Court Case of Janus V. AFSCME

A recent news headline stated, “Catholic Bishops Side with AFSCME in Supreme Court.” Although a legal brief was filed by the Office of General Counsel of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the public perception, as indicated in the headline, is that this is the position adopted by the bishops of the United States. In fact, no vote was taken on whether to file such a brief. While church teaching clearly supports freedom of association and the right to form and join a union, it does not mandate coercing people to join a union or pay dues against their will.

The fact that my brother bishops and I have not expressed support for “right-to-work” laws does not necessarily or logically imply support for litigation opposing “right to work” laws. On the other hand, I have not expressed support for litigation opposing the mandatory collection of union dues for public or private sector employees. At most, the lack of any statement favoring either side should imply neutrality. In fact, my silence on this issue is due to the fact that I have simply never been asked my opinion on it, until now. The Catholic Conference of Illinois has not discussed “right to work” laws in any formal way, as far as I am aware. We have never taken a position on “right to work” laws nor have we really discussed it specifically. It is a matter of prudential judgment on which reasonable people can disagree as to whether the rights of association and free speech are helped or hindered by mandatory union dues.