[T]his weekend’s rhetoric [Hoffa and his "war on Republicans" etc.] is a vivid reminder that most labor organizations have moved far beyond their proper and defensible role.
Though “the condition of the working classes” is much different now than it was when Pope Leo XIII wrote Rerum Novarum in 1891, the document provides a strong justification of labor unions and their position in society.
This is done in the context of a response to the advances of socialism on one hand and atheistic individualism on the other. It would be inflammatory, perhaps even violent, to identify the labor leaders of today with Leo’s socialists, and it would be a stretch to say that Hoffa & co. advocate state-owned means of production, but their contribution to political discourse is remarkably similar to Leo’s characterization of socialist tactics [italics added]: