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Brownsville Diocese Says Union Invalid

On November 18 a Brownsville diocesan tribunal ruled that union contracts signed by three parish pastors were invalid. “The judges felt the pastor who made the contract did not have the proper authority or license,” said the Rev. Msgr. Herberto M. Diaz, chancellor for the diocese. The dispute began in 2000, when Brownsville Bishop Raymundo Pena switched pension plans for diocesan lay workers, a change costing some workers as much as two-thirds of their projected retirement. Church workers decided to organize, and sympathetic pastors signed contracts with the United Farm Workers Union. However at Holy Spirit parish, after the original pastor resigned, a new pastor came with termination notices for all lay employees. This led to a battle in the civil courts resulting in a mediated agreement that gave workers their jobs back. Lay minister Ann Cass said “the Bishops should heed these issues when they write a paper on lay ecclesial workers. If the lay workers do not have job security or do not have something to live on after they spend their entire lives working and ministering with the Church, where do they expect to find ecclesial workers in the future?” Cass said lay ministers would fight the new ruling from the diocese. “We’re ready to go all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States if that’s what we have to do,” she said. (Forth Worth Star Telegram, 11/18/2005)





Fall 2005



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