Today’s Catechism sections discuss labor and wages. Supporting material comes from the Encyclical, “Centesimus Annus”.

2432 Those responsible for business enterprises are responsible to society for the economic and ecological effects of their operations.217 They have an obligation to consider the good of persons and not only the increase of profits. Profits are necessary, however. They make possible the investments that ensure the future of a business and they guarantee employment.

2433 Access to employment and to professions must be open to all without unjust discrimination: men and women, healthy and disabled, natives and immigrants.218 For its part society should, according to circumstances, help citizens find work and employment.219

2434 A just wage is the legitimate fruit of work. To refuse or withhold it can be a grave injustice.220 In determining fair pay both the needs and the contributions of each person must be taken into account. "Remuneration for work should guarantee man the opportunity to provide a dignified livelihood for himself and his family on the material, social, cultural and spiritual level, taking into account the role and the productivity of each, the state of the business, and the common good."221 Agreement between the parties is not sufficient to justify morally the amount to be received in wages.

2435 Recourse to a strike is morally legitimate when it cannot be avoided, or at least when it is necessary to obtain a proportionate benefit. It becomes morally unacceptable when accompanied by violence, or when objectives are included that are not directly linked to working conditions or are contrary to the common good.

2436 Unemployment almost always wounds its victim's dignity and threatens the equilibrium of his life. Besides the harm done to him personally, it entails many risks for his family.222

IN BRIEF

2459 Man is himself the author, center, and goal of all economic and social life. The decisive point of the social question is that goods created by God for everyone should in fact reach everyone in accordance with justice and with the help of charity.

2460 The primordial value of labor stems from man himself, its author and beneficiary. By means of his labor man participates in the work of creation. Work united to Christ can be redemptive.

The Encyclical, “Centesimus Annus” by Pope John Paul II discusses labor and compensation for it.

67. Human labor which is expended in the production and exchange of goods or in the performance of economic services is superior to the other elements of economic life, for the latter have only the nature of tools.

This labor, whether it is engaged in independently or hired by someone else, comes immediately from the person, who as it were stamps the things of nature with his seal and subdues them to his will. By his labor a man ordinarily supports himself and his family, is joined to his fellow men and serves them, and can exercise genuine charity and be a partner in the work of bringing divine creation to perfection. Indeed, we hold that through labor offered to God man is associated with the redemptive work of Jesus Christ, Who conferred an eminent dignity on labor when at Nazareth He worked with His own hands. From this there follows for every man the duty of working faithfully and also the right to work. It is the duty of society, moreover, according to the circumstances prevailing in it, and in keeping with its role, to help the citizens to find sufficient employment. Finally, remuneration for labor is to be such that man may be furnished the means to cultivate worthily his own material, social, cultural, and spiritual life and that of his dependents, in view of the function and productiveness of each one, the conditions of the factory or workshop, and the common good.

Footnotes

217 Cf. CA 37.
218 Cf. LE 19; 22-23.
219 Cf. CA 48.
220 Cf. ⇒ Lev 19:13; ⇒ Deut 24:14-15; ⇒ Jas 5:4
221 GS 67 # 2