Millennial editor Robert Christian joined Candace Cunningham, a community organizer and the workforce development coordinator with Restaurant Opportunities Centers United DC (ROC-DC); Dawn Carpenter, the founding director of the Solidarity Economy Workshop and a senior advisor to the Vatican’s Economy of Francesco’s Finance and Humanity working group; and Willie Lyles III, a senior advisor and counsel for Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC), on a Georgetown University panel discussing work and labor in the United States today. Anna Gordon, program director of the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life, moderated the panel. You can watch the full panel here:
via the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life:
Young workers in the United States are wrestling with how their jobs affect their finances, relationships, and personal beliefs and values. What does work mean for young people in an economy that is dramatically changing how we work, where we work, the kind of work we do, how workers are paid, and whether they have a voice in the workplace?
Catholic social thought begins with decent work and provides a moral framework for what a solidarity economy should look like: a society where human dignity and the common good are valued over profits. Pope Francis has said that “Work is a necessity, part of the meaning of life on this earth, a path to growth, human development, and personal fulfillment” (Laudato Si’ #128). A solidarity economy supports mission-driven investing, stewardship of natural resources and care for the environment, and reforming financial institutions to respond to inequality and poverty. Yet in the United States economic structures and decisions often perpetuate unfair labor practices and what Pope Francis calls “an economy of exclusion.” Workers are organizing at Starbucks, Amazon, and elsewhere across the United States but face resistance. The COVID-19 pandemic revealed great disparities in the world of work and has changed the economy and workforce, generating dynamics like the Great Resignation and “quiet quitting.”
This Salt and Light Gathering for young Catholics under 40 brought together young professionals, experts, and union leaders to examine today’s challenges, explore what a new economic framework can look like, and ask how our own work can better reflect the principles of Catholic social thought.