Proclaiming the Dignity of Work

Vol.3, No.1, 1997

National Work Commission, Secular Franciscan Order, U.S.A

Ed & Mary Zablocki, SFO, Chairs, 360 Beard Avenue, Buffalo, NY 14214 (716) 838- 4178

Work Commission Members

Terrence McCarthy, Sr. and Ann Devine along with co-chairs, Mary and Ed Zablocki, constitute the National Work Commission. Terry lives in Tucson and is Minister of St. Thomas More Region. He is retired after years of experience in the construction industry in the U.S. and abroad and has sat on both sides of the table in labor-management negotiations. Ann lives in Hazleton, PA and serves as the regional work commission chair for Exaltation of the Holy Cross Region, comprised of eastern rite churches. Ann works for the Custody of St. Mary of the Angels of the Byzantine Franciscans and has received a degree in Franciscan Studies from St. Bonaventure University.

Los Tres Companeros Work Commission Survey

Pauline Cahalan, regional work commission chair for Los Tres Companeros Region in central Texas included a survey in the January, 1997 regional newsletter, Paz y Bien (Peace & Good). Some of Paula's questions to members of her region included: "From what you know of Francis, what do you think he thought of work? How did he see the role of work in his life? Does being a Secular Franciscan have any impact on how you view work? Does it make any difference regarding the kind of work you choose to do? What about how you act at work?" Dignitas looks forward to reporting some of the survey results to you.

A Response from the Disney Company

The last issue of Dignitas addressed alleged abuses of Haitian garment workers by companies under contract to the Disney Corporation. In response to a letter protesting this situation, the Disney Director of Communications replied:

Our review of operations in Haiti, which included an on-site inspection of the factories, has found that they are adhering to all applicable laws and policies. The median wage paid workers who make Disney-licensed goods is well above the Haitian minimum wage. As a result of contact we have had with the U.S. Embassy in Haiti regarding the manufacturing facilities our licensees there use, Ambassador William Swing has written to us that "no visit by my staff has turned up any evidence of sub-standard working conditions. Even more compelling is information furnished by two separate reports (as yet unpublished) from the Haitian Ministry of Social Affairs and the Tri- Partite Commission (an entitity with representatives from the Haitian Government, labor unions and management). The contractors are not identified as having adverse working conditions, and furthermore, one report lists both primary Disney contractors among the five best factories in Haiti out of a field of 95."....The real issue is not what the 20 percent of the Haitian labor force that is working is being paid. It is that of creating jobs and income and a standard of living for the 80 percent of the workforce for which there are no jobs. As always, there are two sides to every story. What do you think we as Franciscans should do? Please write with your suggestions and/or if you would like a copy of the entire response from the Disney Company including an article from the Grand Rapids Press.