Making the Grade
Over the past half-century, the percentage of U.S. Catholic secondary school teachers that are laypeople has skyrocketed from approximately 10% in the 1950s to more than 90% in 2006. With this change comes many important issues that beg to be studied in terms of labor relations between these lay employees and the Roman Catholic Church. While the Church has repeatedly made statements in support of labor unions such as in Laborem Exercens, the relations between lay teacher associations and Catholic dioceses in the U.S. have not always mirrored these ideals. This dissertation investigates the case of one organization, the Catholic Teachers Union (CTU), which represents over two-hundred lay teachers at eight high schools in the diocese of Camden, NJ. Using interviews, content analysis, and archival analysis, the investigator found that the union overcame diocesan opposition by deliberately framing (through media outlets and direct communication) their movement and message as strongly connected to Catholic doctrine, Catholic Social Thought, and Church teachings. This "moral framing" helped the union gain support from the parent-consumers sending their children to these schools, which contributed greatly to the union's recognition in 1984 and then their negotiation of nine contracts for diocesan lay teachers. Incorporating Erving Goffman's Frame Analysis, Johnston and Noakes schema for Social Movement Framing, James Coleman and Thomas Hoffer's concept of Social Capital and Intergenerational Closure, and the concept of Community Unionism, the author concludes that CTU can be considered a leader in lay teacher-Catholic Church labor relations and that its tactic of moral framing can inform other unions and the larger labor movement.