George Weigel, who has written the definitive biography of Pope John Paul II--and is the grandson of unionized steelworkers--writing for InsideCatholic.com:
Judging by the impassioned commentary from some Catholic quarters during recent confrontations between unionized public-sector workers and state governments, you'd think we were back in 1919, with the Church defending the rights of wage slaves laboring in sweat shops under draconian working conditions. That would hardly seem to be the circumstances of, say, unionized American public school teachers who make handsome salaries with generous health and pension benefits, work for nine months of the year, and are virtually impossible to fire even if they commit felonies. I don't think those were the kinds of workers Pope Leo XIII had in mind in Rerum Novarum, or Pope John Paul II in Laborem Exercens....
Tens of thousands of inner-city children are being denied a quality education today because of the intransigence of the teachers' unions in conceding the effectiveness -- and moral imperative -- of voucher programs that allow underprivileged and at-risk kids to get the kind of decent, disciplined education that is unavailable in too many government-run schools: not because of lack of funding, and not because government schools "have to take everyone," but because of union rules that protect failed teachers, reward incompetence, and make it virtually impossible for dedicated teachers to conduct the kind of classrooms that work. This is, in a word, selfishness -- cruel selfishness. It ill befits Catholic activists and commentators to support it.
American bishops, please print and memorize.
Hat tip to Stephen Schmalhofer.