The Catholic Worker’s Movement of the 20th century is a monumental event that deserves recognition and admiration. Without the movement scores of Catholic workers, engaged in many facets of American labor might have endured insufferable and continued disregard for their human rights and values. Recounting the courageous individuals that forged the Catholic Labor Movement in the United States is long overdue. However, the work of Mr. Kimball Baker, a historian and writing that lives in Southern, New Jersey, that oversight has been remedied in a most effective and accurate manner. His book, “Go to the Worker”, America’s Labor Apostles is the most definitive expose of the history of the Catholic Labor Movement to date. His work, details the evolution and development of the movement through the actions and efforts of individuals that are often forgotten to the realms of historical antiquity; despite the fact their actions affect every working individual, especially Catholics since the development of the social reforms instigated by the efforts of these great, unsung men. Frequently, most Catholics often hear the name of Dorothy Day associated with Catholic Workers and the development of labor rights in the United States. While her story in itself is remarkable, it is actually a small piece that contributes to the larger activities of men such as Bert Donlin, Philip Carey, Karl Hubble and Joseph Buckley that raised public awareness and consciousness in the United States about the necessity for social action on behalf of the workers of the country; and made this message their life’s work and campaign.

Kimball Baker writes of the intense and diverse mannerisms of each of these great Lions of the labor movement in a manner that makes the reader want to really get to know them better, perhaps sit and have a heated discussion with all of the great men that forged the worker’s movement and in the end go out and raise a sign that advocates the rights of the working’s class and the great moral and ethical responsibilities that rest with the barons of 20th century labor as well.

Most importantly, the book clearly illustrates for this author the great need that continues to exist in the 21st century to protect intrinsic human rights and needs in the workplace. While most contemporary observers might feel the age of the Catholic Worker Movement is over, the reality of Catholic teachings on social justice demand quite a different understanding. Consistently since the great encyclical of Leo XIII Rerum Novarum, which discussed the needs and rights of the working man to the encyclical of Pope Pius XI, Quadragesimo Anno, Gaudium et Spes of the Second Vatican Council & Laborem Exercens (On Human Work) by Pope John Paul II the Church has consistently called attention to the needs of the working man. The Church is a champion of labor rights and expects Her followers to appreciate the great dignity of all workers, regardless of their occupations and obligations.

In the 21st century, with the emerging global economy, transcending political and social borders, it is especially critical that the message and admonitions of the Catholic Labor Movement are not forgotten, but closely recalled and recounted. Mr. Kimball Baker, in his superlative discourse and redaction of the men that fueled the 20th century movement of social action is a welcome work that reminds modern Catholic readers that we are indeed in need of the same Catholic social action that results in the preservation of human rights and dignity in all of the works undertaken by laborers throughout the world.

“Go to the Worker”, America’s Labor Apostles is available from and Marquette University Press ( . The cost is $30.00.

The book is a must for every Catholic’s readers list and gets my rating of four miters.

Be Sociable, Share!