Joe Kruse Grew Up in the Movement (CCW Ep 17)

An interview with longtime Catholic Worker Joe Kruse about labor, union organizing, and work.

Today we speak with Joe Kruse, a long-time Catholic Worker in Minneapolis about his involvement since childhood in the movement and his perspectives on labor, union organizing, and work in general.

Summary: This episode is the third in a three-part series on labor and the Catholic Worker movement. Kruse explains the importance of labor within the Catholic Worker movement; in its early years, the Catholic Worker was influenced by Catholic social teaching, particularly encyclicals that supported organized labor and criticized both capitalism and communism. Dorothy Day emphasized the dignity of labor and the co-creative nature of work with God.

Kruse notes that although union membership hasn’t significantly increased, there has been a rise in workplace organizing and political engagement among workers. He believes that the pandemic has played a role in increasing class consciousness and exposing the inequalities of capitalism. He expresses hope for solidarity among different groups of people within the labor movement, emphasizing the need to overcome divisions and work towards a more just society.

In their reflection on the interview, hosts Theo and Lydia discuss the importance of Catholic Workers having firsthand experiences as workers and engaging with labor movements. They acknowledge the historical shift in the Catholic Worker movement towards a more educated demographic and the potential impact on their focus on labor-related issues. They recognize the need for Catholic Workers to be more active in labor struggles, especially supporting striking workers, and to redefine the concept of work as something sacred and creative. The episode concludes with a call for listeners to consider how their Catholic Worker communities can connect with labor movements or reimagine the value of work.

Coffee with Catholic Workers is a podcast by and about Catholic Workers. Every two weeks, join Lydia Wong and Theo Kayser for a conversation with some of their favorite Catholic Worker folk. Special thanks to sound engineer Chris of Bloomington, IN.

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