Chicago alderman calls out Cardinal Blase Cupich over opposition to proposed city ordinance

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Wednesday, February 8, 2023
Chicago alderman calls out Cupich over proposed city ordinance
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Chicago alderman Susan Sadlowski Garza is talking about a disagreement she has with Cardinal Blase Cupich about a proposed city ordinance.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A Chicago alderman is talking about a disagreement she has with Cardinal Blase Cupich about a proposed city ordinance over human service workers who choose to unionize.

In a recent letter, the cardinal said the proposed legislation is being rushed through by its supporters. Alderman Susan Sadlowski Garza disagrees.

Cardinal Cupich made the unusual move of weighing in on a proposed ordinance in city council. In a two-page letter to Mayor Lori Lightfoot and all 50 aldermen, the cardinal expressed concerns that includes requiring Catholic Charities to sign a labor peace agreement with union officials, which may result in higher wages that he says the archdiocese can't afford.

He wrote in the letter, "The Human Service Workforce Advancement Ordinance - now being pushed through with great haste by its supporters - not only will hamper the ability of Catholic Charities and our peers to fulfill our shared mission to our neighbors in need, but may threaten the continued existence of many of our partners."

"Whether he decides to comment on something is all his own choice," said Sally Blount, president and CEO of Catholic Charities. "But I'm proud that he's willing to talk about the people we serve and put that first and foremost."

Blount said her colleagues in several other human service organizations share the concern that the ordinance would force nonprofits to choose between paying more in wages and providing less in services.

"We have wonderful protections for workers in this state and on the federal laws as well," Blount said. "I share their goals, though, that we want to take better and better care of the people who work with us."

Sadlowski Garza suggests the cardinal is getting his facts wrong starting with the timeline of the ordinance.

"That is the biggest misconception and the most inaccurate thing," Sadlowski Garza said. "This ordinance has been in committee for over two and a half years."

She wrote a response to the cardinal, saying that the labor peace agreement ensures there will be no retaliation against an employee of they choose to join a union.

"Labor peace agreement does not bargain for wages, does not bargain for benefits, it does not bargain for working conditions," Sadlowski Garza said. "It only provides protection for the employee that the employer will not retaliate against them if they choose to organize."

Sadlowki Garza went on to say that Catholic Charities, as a religious institution, would be exempt from this ordinance, which, at this point, is still in a committee.

But Sadlowski Garza said it does have the support of a majority of city council members. Mayor Lori Lightfoot is not commenting on the issue.