The Indiana Catholic Conference sent letters to all 150 lawmakers this week weighing in on several labor union issues, including a right-to-work proposal.
The two-page statement signed by officials from five area diocese doesn't definitively state a position for or against the controversial legislation being pushed by GOP legislative leadership.
The Indiana Catholic Conference is the public policy voice of the Catholic Church in Indiana.
The proposed bill would make it illegal for an employer and union to include a contract clause requiring all employees covered by the contract to pay some sort of union dues or representation fee.
The letter from the Indiana Catholic Conference states that workers have a right to a just wage, safe working environment and the ability to form unions.
But it said it is a concern when "unions that charge excessive dues use their financial resources to support politicians or political parties that clearly devalue the sanctity of life or the institution of marriage."
It also said that any form of coercion on the part of business ownership, management or a union is to be condemned.
Glenn Tebbe, executive director of the Catholic Conference, was surprised the letter became public so quickly, and said the church is not against unions.
"We see unions as a contributing factor to the common good. That purpose is to defend and promote the just causes of workers and working conditions. That's their proper purpose," he said.
But he noted that labor unions can become too identified with one political party and stray from those purposes.
"We are not saying unions are bad or unions are perfect," Tebbe said. "We wanted to give some principles for legislators to think about as they determine prudent public policy."
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