Texas Catholic employees refuse reinstatement offer from diocese

Posted: Friday, August 15, 2003

McALLEN, Texas (AP) Four lay workers who were fired in a labor dispute with a Roman Catholic diocese have rejected a reinstatement offer, saying it doesn't mention job security or unionization.

The workers, all women from Holy Spirit Church, were fired June 18. They claim Bishop Raymundo Pena of the Brownsville Diocese authorized the firings to scuttle efforts at unionizing, though the bishop denies this.

Last year, the workers teamed with the United Farmworkers and employees from other parishes on a contract, which several pastors signed. Workers who unionized at other parishes also claim retaliation.

James Harrington, an attorney for the workers, said they rejected Pena's reinstatement offer of last week because ''they want to put the union issue off to sometime in the future, and that was too vague,'' he said.

In a letter on the diocesan Web site, Pena said ''this offer separates the issue regarding the validity of the union contract, which needs to be determined by proper church authorities.''

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