National Catholic Reporter: Biden must pass the Protecting the Right to Organize Act

Thanks to Bill Londrigan for sending us this.


AFL-CIO president

I grew up 300 miles away from President-elect Joe Biden in a small town called Nemacolin, Pennsylvania. Nemacolin was a company town, meaning the mining company owned everything. Every house, every store and seemingly every square foot belonged to the mining company. There were two exceptions: the union hall and Our Lady of Consolation Church, which was at the heart of our town's Catholic community.

Back in the 1920s and 1930s, it seemed like nothing and no one could stand in the way of the coal companies' pursuit of profit. After all, they had a special police force — the Coal and Iron Police. The companies' private guards threatened and attacked — even murdered — miners who tried to stand together to form our union — the United Mine Workers of America.

My dad used to tell me about an incident after company guards broke up one union meeting. A mounted troop from the Coal and Iron Police tried to run down him and my granddad. They sprinted through the woods, over a hill and up the steps to Our Lady of Consolation Church. The parish priest, Fr. Paul Simko, heard the commotion and came out front with a crucifix raised high. He stepped right between my dad and granddad and the mounted police and said, "You can't ride up on these steps. This is a sanctuary!"

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