Labor claims Pope Benedict as EFCA supporter

Organized labor groups claimed another prominent supporter of the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) on Wednesday: Pope Benedict XVI.

Labor groups said the Roman Catholic Church leader's new encyclical, "Caritas in Veritate" ("Charity in Truth"), released this week "supports the principles of [EFCA]."

The encyclical builds on the historical support for guilds and trade unions by the Catholic hierarchy first laid out in the 19th century encyclical "Rerum Novarum" ("Of new things").

Benedict said "the promotion of workers' associations that can defend their rights must therefore be honoured today even more than in the past" in his latest writing. The encyclical was coordinated to be released before the G-8 summit in Italy this week, which will have a heavy emphasis on global economic issues.

"I have seen firsthand the lengths to which some employers will go to prevent workers from exercising their legal and moral right to form a union," said Chris Korzen, executive director of Catholics United, which supports EFCA. "Passing [EFCA] is the best way to protect workers from violations like these and to answer the pope's call for increased support of organized labor."

The release touting papal backing for the prized piece of labor legislation was promoted, in turn, by SEIU.

The assertion of papal support comes two days before President Obama will meet with the pontiff at Vatican City on Friday. The release also targeted centrist, Catholic senators who've yet to take a position on EFCA.