The Truth About the A.C.T.U.
CHRIST & NEIGHBOR
One of the falsehoods that critics of the Roman Catholic Church like to dig up, dust off, and run around the track for the entertainment of their friends is the old canard that the only reason Catholics have shown any interest in the poor is that they are afraid of communism.
This falsehood surfaces again in a new book by Ronald W. Schatz, The Electrical Workers: A History of Labor at General Electric and Westinghouse, 1923-60 (University of Illinois Press, $22.95 ), and the Catholics in this case are the members of the Association of Catholic Trade Unionists (ACTU).
To be fair to him, Schatz is mostly a competent, conscientious historian who does a workmanlike job of reporting the struggles of workers at GE and Westinghouse to win decent wages and working conditions at the plants of two of America’s more successful and formidable corporations.
Also, Schatz is careful to say a kind word about Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker movement (CW). Dorothy and the CW made some magnificent contributions in the 1930s to the organization of American workers into the CIO and the battle to rid the AFL of racketeers. Her stories in the CW’s paper, her leadership in setting up the soup kitchen, or more accurately coffee-and-sandwich kitchen, that we ran on the waterfront during the great seamen’s strike of 1936-1937, were major factors in mobilizing support, especially Catholic support, for those efforts.
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