Labor Unions and Intermediate Organizations
The Church encourages the formation of what it calls “intermediate organizations,” “intermediate bodies,” or “intermediate associations” which can close the gap between ownership and work that has been created through concentration of property. Often, when mention is made of “civil society,” it is precisely these intermediate social groupings that are being referred to. In this sense, such intermediates form the link between families and the State in such a way that the “graduated order” sought by the principle of subsidiarity can be realized to its fullest measure.
Closely related to this call for intermediate organizations, although serving a much more specific purpose, are the workers associations known as unions. These unions “grew up from the struggle of the workers—workers in general but especially the industrial workers—to protect their just rights vis-à-vis the entrepreneurs and the owners of the means of production.” Unions were necessitated when work became divorced from ownership and created a class of men whose only power in the market was price they could get for their physical labor. Because such a situation inevitably puts the laborer at a distinct disadvantage, unions today play a necessary role in society and are considered part of the “right of association”:
“All these rights, together with the need for the workers themselves to secure them, give rise to yet another right: the right of association, that is to form associations for the purpose of defending the vital interests of those employed in the various professions. These associations are called labor or trade unions.”