Here's something refreshingly good from the Patheos blog. Kathy Schiffer posts on what labor unions are ideally supposed to be accomplishing in society. She notes
The noble ideal of a labor union reverberates through Catholic social teaching. There are many encyclicals and papal documents which address labor issues in depth; tonight, I’d like to highlight Pope John Paul II’s defense of unions in his 1981 encyclical Laborem Exercens.
Then she excepts the encyclical with emphases which I will duplicate here.
Catholic social teaching does not hold that unions are no more than a reflection of the “class” structure of society and that they are a mouthpiece for a class struggle which inevitably governs social life. They are indeed a mouthpiece for the struggle for social justice, for the just rights of working people in accordance with their individual professions. However, this struggle should be seen as a normal endeavor “for” the just good: in the present case, for the good which corresponds to the needs and merits of working people associated by profession; but it is not a struggle “against” others.
How can we claim that the behavior of unions in this country have not fallen short of this ideal? But the Pope continues:
It is characteristic of work that it first and foremost unites people. In this consists its social power: the power to build a community. In the final analysis, both those who work and those who manage the means of production or who own them must in some way be united in this community. Just efforts to secure the rights of workers who are united by the same profession should always take into account the limitations imposed by the general economic situation of the country. Union demands cannot be turned into a kind of group or class “egoism”, although they can and should also aim at correcting-with a view to the common good of the whole of society- everything defective in the system of ownership of the means of production or in the way these are managed.
Strike two. But the real kicker comes after the payoff pitch:
In this sense, union activity undoubtedly enters the field of politics, understood as prudent concern for the common good. However, the role of unions is not to “play politics” in the sense that the expression is commonly understood today. Unions do not have the character of political parties struggling for power; they should not be subjected to the decision of political parties or HAVE TOO CLOSE LINKS WITH THEM. In fact, in such a situation they easily lose contact with their specific role, which is to secure the just rights of workers within the framework of the common good of the whole of society; instead they become an instrument used for other purposes.
Strike three. John Paul II was prescient when he predicted that unions closely linked to a political party would "easily lose contact with their specific role...instead they become an instrument used for other purposes." And the Governor and the voters in Wisconsin acted as the enforcer of this ideal.
So to sum up: Unions are to serve a purpose, they lose sight of their purpose, they misbehave, then they get spanked. Catholics in the public square don't have to feel a bit guilty about being "against the unions". Unions turned against the public first.