Why Have a Union?

Why Unions at Good Companies?
The Working Catholic by Bill Droel

“Why did the new, worker friendly workplaces prove unable to keep their employees happy enough not to have to pay union dues?” So asks a Chicago Tribune editorial (4/10/24). The editors have in mind Trader Joe’s, Starbucks, the camping equipment retailer REI plus several museums and theatres here in Chicago and elsewhere. After all, Trader Joe’s has a 7% annual pay increase, a 401K, a health insurance option, employee discount on groceries and more, the Tribune informs us.
Many executives and managers plus the Tribune editors have a mistaken premise. Employees who desire a union are not entirely motivated by discontent, particularly regarding their wage. The desire for participation is an increasingly important factor in union activity among nurses, tech engineers, hotel staff, autoworkers and more. These employees organize in part to keep their good company good.
Then too perhaps the Tribune and others are mistaken that these companies really are progressive. The companies in question undermine their image once the word union enters their domain. The noble employers quickly reveal another side. They retaliate. They threaten to close a store or an entire plant. They harass outspoken employees. They make side-deals with passive employees. They begin legal action against employees who promote their cause with t-shirts and tote bags that display the company name or logo. Such employers conclusively reveal their true character when they retain a union-busting firm. They continue their hostility by avoiding conversations and negotiations with employees.
Paternalism is not respectful. Grand mission statements are hollow without genuine involvement of all the workers.
Catholic labor relations doctrine can help. It states that a decision for or against a union belongs to the employees without paternal or maternal interference from their employer. Every honest company, no matter the circumstances, should share information with its workers through regular conversations, attractive pamphlets and newsletters plus supplying understandable summaries of the data given to investors. But a union vote is to be without harassment.
Catholic doctrine does not say that any one or another company must have a union. Nor does Catholic doctrine endorse this union for this company. Again, the choice belongs to the employees.
Catholic doctrine does say that a healthy society has the collective participation of workers in some form. Democratic unions are a normal way to secure participation.
Catholic doctrine instructs employers and employees to behave ethically. Retaining a union-busting firm violates Catholic doctrine and is objectively sinful. Instead, employers are advised to seek reputable assistance in their labor relations. Those employers who bargain tough are well within bounds.
For more on this topic, obtain St. John Paul II’s Gospel of Work (National Center for the Laity, PO Box 291102, Chicago, IL 60629; $8)

Labor Liturgies

Masses, prayers mark Workers’ Memorial Day, Feast of St Joseph the Worker

Late Spring witnesses two major calendar dates for Catholic worker justice activists. April 28 is Workers’ Memorial Day, a holiday when the trade union movement remembers workers who have died on the job. And May 1 is observed worldwide as a holiday honoring labor; for Catholics, it is celebrated as the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker.

In Silver Spring, MD Fr. Brian Jordan OFM celebrated the fourth annual Building Trades’ Workers Memorial Mass for a congregation of construction workers on April 25. Fr. Brian made special note of the tragic death of six Baltimore construction workers when the city’s Key Bridge was struck by a ship and collapsed. Fr. Ty Hullinger of Baltimore – a CLN Board Member – led prayers in the city on Workers’ Memorial Day itself at a remembrance where AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler also spoke. Meanwhile, Fr. Brian headed to New York City to hold a similar Building Trades’ Memorial Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

Finally, Fr. Jon Thomas – chaplain of the New Jersey AFL-CIO, celebrated a labor Mass at his parish of Christ the King. In his homily, Fr. Jon referenced the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, which quotes St. Ambrose: “Every worker is the hand of Christ that continues to create and to do good.”  The Church teaches that the worker should not be reduced to “a mere instrument of production” but, in fact, “labor has an intrinsic priority over capital” (cf. Compendium paragraph no. 271).

Thanks to all the faithful, clergy and laity, who marked these important days!

CLN Holds Open Meetings on Revisioning and Renewal

This spring, the Catholic Labor Network is in a time of revisioning and renewal.  In this spirit, we held two open meetings to members and subscribers to our newsletter on March 2 and 5, seeking input from our supporters on priorities for the network.  We want to hear from the wider faith and labor community about what you value and what you hope to see continue, change, or increase in the next decade.

A total of 44 people attended these public meetings and actively participated through live polls and robust conversation.  The level of engagement was impressive and encouraging, as participants reiterated the important role CLN has to play on the national stage.  One long-time CLN member testified that our organization was “critical in his development as a labor leader,” even inspiring him to pursue graduate studies in ministry and theology.  The four polls addressed topics of membership, important (past) work of CLN, ideas for new projects, and organizational structure. Participants varied from dues-paying full members, affiliate members, Board members, and friends of CLN who are not dues-paying and the breadth of these perspectives proved helpful.

Of the important work mentioned, educating on Catholic Social Teaching (to both the faith and labor communities) as it relates to dignity of work ranked among the top of the list, followed by other projects including the newsletter, Catholic institution/employer accountability, campaign and organizing support, legislative and ecclesial advocacy, and convening listening sessions and liturgies for members. One member expressed that, for pastoral ministers such as himself, it was incredibly helpful to have “regular updates about how we might get engaged with different campaigns,” and particularly with “real campaigns that were going on right then, some of them within Catholic institutions.” He continued, “Making those connections for those of us who might be very committed to the teaching, but might not know any ‘handles’ for any particular campaigns at that moment” is vital and makes Catholic Social Teaching concrete.

Participants dreamed together of what new projects CLN could address if ample capacity were in place, and some of these propositions included creating local CLN chapters across the country, amplifying outreach to rural communities and outreach in Spanish to immigrant communities.  Participants also dreamed together of connecting members with local Central Labor Councils, coordinating Labor in the Pulpit for Labor Day, and regular communication with bishops about issues affecting workers and threatening the dignity of work in their diocese.

If you missed the March public meetings but would like to contribute your thoughts and recommendations, stay tuned for a forthcoming survey open to members and friends of CLN.

 

 

Labor Priest Celebrates Workers Memorial Day Mass in Maryland

By Mark Pattison for the Catholic Labor Network

They came by the hundreds for Mass. That’s fairly typical on a Sunday morning. But a Thursday afternoon at 5 p.m.?

It was Workers Memorial Day.

Hundreds of union members and apprentices in the construction trades, along with members of other unions and some government officials and elected representatives, came to St. Camillus Church in the Washington suburb of Silver Spring, Md., for the annual Workers Memorial Day Mass.

Franciscan Fr. Brian Jordan, the pastor, twice before Mass warned congregants not to sit in the back pews, because for those who remain there, he joked, “there’ll be a double collection.” For the entrance procession and for many parts of the Mass, Fr. Jordan donned a hard hat with a cross on the front.

But the real focus of the Mass were the 20 chairs arrayed at the front of the sanctuary. Each had a black covering draped around it, and on the seat was a white hard hat and a single rose. They represented the 19 workers killed on the job in Maryland in the past year. The 20th, Fr. Jordan said, was for the workers who died on the job but whose employer never reported the death and did away with the body – an undignified end, he noted, but “it happens, folks.”

At the end of the entrance procession, Fr. Jordan swung a thurifer and incensed each of the seats. Incense, he explained, is a sign of reverence. “Life is precious. Life is sacred,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re union or nonunion. All life is sacred. And we’re all equal in death.”

Of the 19 killed, Fr. Jordan said, 14 were Latino. And of those 14, six of them were filling potholes on the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore March 26 when the cargo vessel Dali, adrift without power, rammed into a pier of the bridge, sending it collapsing into the Patapsco River – and the six immigrant workers to their deaths. (Two others survived.)

Sidney Bonilla, assistant business manager of Steamfitters Local 602, read the names of the 19 workers. Following each name, as in years past at St. Camillus, a bell on the opposite side of the sanctuary tolled. At last year’s Workers Memorial Day Mass, there were 40 deaths in Maryland to mourn, including six other road workers who were hit on Interstate 695, the Baltimore Beltway.

In his homily, Fr. Jordan said the workers who died had one basic goal: “to do their job and to come home to their families.” The immigrant workers, he added, wanted to share in the American dream.

“This is a land of opportunity, a land of love,” Fr. Jordan said, although every immigrant group has faced obstacles. “My Irish ancestors couldn’t get decent jobs: No Irish need apply,” he added. “Jews were told you can’t work here. African American were told you can’t vote.” One unwelcome consequence of this is that “the old oppressed becomes the new oppressor. We can’t have that.”

In remarks after Communion on the dignity of labor, Portia Wu, Maryland’s secretary of labor, said that every day since the bridge collapse, state officials have been meeting with different groups on recovery and restoration efforts. The deceased workers, she added, always get mentioned at the start of each meeting. “Can we pray for them?” is the suggestion made.

Construction workers make up only 5% of the workforce, Wu said, but 33% of all on-the-job deaths.

The AFL-CIO issued a report, Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect, April 25. It reported that during 2022, the last year for which complete statistics were available, 5,486 workers were killed on the job in the United States; 344 workers died each day from hazardous working conditions, and 120,000 die each year from occupational diseases; Black and Latino workers die at a higher rate, and that rate is increasing; 43 workers died from heat on the job (Texas’ legislature passed a law last year banning municipal ordinances mandating head mitigation measures); workplace homicides and workplace suicides increased 9% and 13%, respectively, from 2021 levels; and repetitive motion injuries account for 28% of all serious work-related injuries and illnesses in private industry.

Apprentices accounted for a significant share of the assembly at Mass. Bonilla credits it to numbers. “We have a thousand apprentices” in Steamfitters Local 602. Otis Biggs, a business agent for the local, says union democracy plays a part, too.

“They go to classes” as part of their apprenticeship, Biggs said. Steamfitters explain what the Mass is about, and the apprentices in each class take a vote. “If they vote to come, they come here,” he added. He called it a fine way for the apprentices to “support the union – and the church.”

Although Workers Memorial Day is officially April 28 – the first such observance was in 1989, 35 years ago – the St. Camillus Mass was April 25 because April 28 fell on a Sunday. It was the fourth such Mass at St. Camillus.

Asked after the Mass why he hosts the Mass year after year, Fr. Jordan, in his Brooklyn accent, replied that he was in New York City during the 9/11 terror attacks. “The police department had a chaplain, the first department had a chaplain. But the construction workers, who were more than anybody else there, didn’t have a chaplain,” he said. He became their chaplain and has been a “labor priest” ever since.

St. Camillus also hosts an annual Labor Day Mass, which will take place this year Wednesday, Aug. 28. Maryland Gov. Wes Moore was at last year’s Mass, Fr. Jordan said, and pledged then to speak at this year’s.

 

Reform Capitalism

The Working Catholic: Social Doctrine Part 16 by Bill Droel

It was news when this past April employees at a Volkswagen assembly plant in Chattanooga, TN voted overwhelmingly to join United Auto Workers (www.uawregion8.net). The vote is noteworthy because the South is generally not receptive to unions. It is not only noteworthy in the present. We may “someday look back at the Chattanooga vote as a milestone on the road back to the more or less middle-class society” in the U.S., writes Paul Krugman in NY Times (4/26/24).
The vote’s back story is also intriguing. It has the potential to advance Catholic social thought in our country, specifically the Catholic principle of economic participation and its extension, the industry council plan. In older Catholic textbooks this is called solidarism. In Germany it is co-determinism or works council. In France it is enterprise committees; in Belgium it’s delegates for personnel; and it is joint consultative committee in England.
In his 1937 encyclical, Of a Divine Redeemer, Pope Pius XI (1857-1939) wrote about the industrial council plan. Several Catholics in the U.S. promoted the idea during and after World War II. Its basics are explained in Ed Marciniak’s City and Church by Chuck Shanabruch (National Center for the Laity, PO Box 291102, Chicago, IL 60629; $20). A council meets regularly to discuss industry products and planning. Membership includes executives, employees, middle-managers, government officials, and maybe consumers. Some topics can be off-limits, like wages. The plan does not supersede a union. In fact, its intention is to focus collective bargaining. The plan does not encourage collusion among competitor companies, including price fixing. In fact, the plan’s goal of cooperation enhances production within democratic competition. The industry council solicits and implements ideas from all the participants in a company or an industry. Its outcome lessens the need for government meddling.
As the industry council plan spreads, Marciniak said, neo-liberal industrialism or post-industrialism will be tempered. “Society has lost its organic character,” Marciniak wrote in 1954. Society “is gradually being torn apart by class and racial conflict.” The industry council plan, he emphasized, “is not benevolent paternalism, but rather a real partnership in which working [people] will become co-responsible with management in solving the economic problems of industry.”
Please note: The industry council plan does not hang on the cloths line by itself. It is one contribution to multiple reforms that take shape gradually. Second, the plan is not of, by and for Catholics. There is no need to ever invoke Pius XI or Marciniak. The council’s meetings do not require an opening prayer.
Back to Tennessee. VW, headquartered in Wolfsburg, Germany, participates in a works council. VW wanted to implement that model in its Chattanooga plant. However, U.S. labor law seems to require a union before there can be a works council. In 2011 some workers in Chattanooga began a union drive at VW. They lost a vote in February 2014. Reasons for the defeat included the oddity that VW’s Tennessee employees at that time were paid a few cents more than Northern workers represented by UAW. Additionally, some VW employees in Chattanooga lacked confidence in the UAW executives up in Detroit. Along came Shawn Fain, who in March 2023 won a reform campaign to be UAW president. He then led a rolling strike simultaneously at GM, Ford and Stellantis. By October 2023 a framework for a favorable contract was in place.
The success of the UAW’s strike in 2023 and more specifically its 2024 success in Tennessee raise the possibility of a works council in the U.S. Stay tuned.
Droel edits INITIATIVES (PO Box 291102, Chicago, IL 60629), a printed newsletter on faith and work.

Updates on Unions at Catholic Institutions

More than one million American workers are employed by Catholic hospitals, schools and other institutions. The Bishops’ 1986 pastoral letter Economic Justice for All reminded those managing these institutions that the Church’s social teaching on labor and workers’ rights applies to workers employed by the Church. “On the parish and diocesan level, through its agencies and institutions, the Church employs many people; it has investments; it has extensive properties for worship and mission. All the moral principles that govern the just operation of any economic endeavor apply to the Church and its agencies and institutions; indeed the Church should be exemplary [347].”

If we have a Catholic institution that is “exemplary” in its fidelity to Catholic Social Teaching on labor and work it is perhaps Georgetown University, which has adopted a Just Employment Policy ensuring that its workers enjoy a living wage and the right to organize in labor unions – and insisting that its service contractors do the same. In some good news, the Resident Assistants who staff Georgetown dormitories voted 79-3 in favor of joining OPEIU Local 153, without the acrimony and retaliation that too often accompany organizing efforts.

OPEIU Local 153 also represents Catholic school teachers in the Archdiocese of New York and office and clerical employees at Fordham University. Fordham saw a breakthrough in labor relations under former university president Fr. Joseph McShane, when adjunct and other contingent faculty organized to join the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) even as other Catholic colleges and universities (such as Manhattan and Duquesne) abused their First Amendment freedom of religion protections to fight faculty organizing.

However, labor relations have taken a turn for the worse at Fordham under current president Tania Tetlow. Graduate research and teaching assistants organized with the Communications Workers of America (CWA) two years ago and have yet to obtain a first contract. Worse, when they attempted to leaflet the campus about their issues, the university called security to have them removed, leading the union to file an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board. (The Catholic Labor Network has sent a letter to President Tetlow reminding her of Catholic teaching on the right to organize and urging the university to refrain from additional labor law violations.) The graduate students have authorized a strike.

Meanwhile, contingent (non-tenured) faculty at the University of San Diego announced plans to organize with the SEIU. And Marquette contingent faculty and other campus employees are trying to form a union with the CWA.

The Catholic Labor Network is pleased to report progress in bargaining at three of four Ascension hospitals where nurses joined National Nurses United in recent years. Nurses at Ascension Seton in Austin, Texas ratified a contract in March and those at Ascension Via Christi St. Francis and Ascension Via Christi St. Joseph in Wichita Nebraska did so in April. Still waiting for a new contract? The nurses of Ascension St. Agnes in Baltimore, Maryland.

Have more news regarding labor union organizing or bargaining at a Catholic institution? Email [email protected]

Learn About Workplace Disputes Online at the Boston Labor Guild

Beginning April 22, Catholic Labor Network member and Arbitrator Michael Loconto will lead an online course on “Hot Topics in Workplace Disputes” through the Boston Labor Guild’s School of Labor-Management Relations. The course will feature ten arbitrators from around the country discussing a wide range of developing issues that are facing employees and employers in the workplace today. Scheduled topics include legalization of cannabis and its effect on workplace drug screening, the rise of social media and related First Amendment issues, new leave issues created by the pandemic and recent changes to the law, civility and the effects of remote work. Recent arbitration and court decisions will illustrate how decision makers reached an outcome, with a chance for class participants to learn through role-play.

The course is five weeks long, meeting on Monday evenings from April 22 through May 20, 2024. The course is designed to meet the needs of working students, and will meet from 6-8 pm ET online. Students enroll from across the country, and all are welcome. Registration is only $50, and tuition relief is available. For more information about the course and to register, please CLICK HERE

About The Boston Labor Guild: Since 1945, the Guild’s mission has been to provide training, support, and connection through labor education, professional training, and personal development via school, workshops, forums, and conferences. The Labor Guild, a non-profit organization originally founded by the Archdiocese of Boston, has continuously provided labor education since 1953 through the School of Labor-Management Relations. For more information about the Guild, membership benefits and other current and upcoming classes, visit https://www.laborguild.com/

Big Tech

The Working Catholic: Big Tech by Bill Droel

The popular use of a term sometimes differs from its original use. Such is the case with Luddite, which now usually refers to someone who fiercely opposes most technology. Blood in the Machine by Brain Merchant (Little Brown, 2023) takes us back to the term’s origin: the Luddite Movement in England from 1811 to 1816.
Textile workers were opposed to certain types of automated machines, not wholesale opposition to all technology. They also believed that employers deceived them about manufacturing changes. The workers damaged some factory machines, but eventually lost their battle when military force was used against them.
In our day, some tech companies warrant resistance over their treatment of employees and consumers. Those companies include the social media–Meta (Facebook), Tik Tok, and X (Twitter) and others. Plus, the big tech retail giant Amazon and probably the app-based delivery/rider companies.
The harmful side effects of these companies derive from their operating philosophy, as summarized by Adrienne LaFrance in “The Despots of Silicon Valley” for The Atlantic (3/24). The authoritarian titans of tech are dangerous, she writes. They believe “that technological progress of any kind is unreservedly and inherently good; that you should always build it, simply because you can; that frictionless information flow is the highest value regardless of the information’s quality; that privacy is an archaic concept…[and that] the power [of tech experts] should be unconstrained.”
LaFrance continues: The tech giants “promise community but sow division; claim to champion truth but spread lies; wrap themselves in concepts such as empowerment and liberty but surveil us relentlessly.”
Our Congress is concerned about the side effects of big tech. Both House and Senate routinely summon one or another tech executive to address those concerns. Those hearings are perhaps a modest start. Collective and individual action on the part of the public is urgently needed. A few groups are on the case. For example, Collective Action in Tech (www.collectiveaction.tech/unions) maintains a list of organizing efforts among employees in the big tech sector. Mothers Unite to Stall Technology (www.mothersunite4kids.org) advises parents on the harmful effects of mobile devices and more. (Ironically, these citizen efforts rely on tech platforms to spread their ideas and this column appears on a website.)
Citizens should keep basic principles in mind. First, as Jacques Ellul (1912-1994) warns us, all technology individuates. Contrary to the propaganda of the social media platforms, communication through mobile devices puts users further apart. One’s so-called friends on Facebook are likely not genuine friends unless honest and vulnerable face-to-face contact also occurs. Second, as Marshall McLuhan preaches, “the medium is the message.” That is, the content is less relevant than the hardware (the device itself, the satellite and the earthbound transmitters and cables). Merely having a TV in one’s home changes the household environment, no matter the content of one or another TV show. A mobile device in one’s pocket changes one’s outlook, no matter who is texting whom.
These principles and others should, by the way, cause reflection on the part of church leaders—particularly those in liturgical denominations. For example, a camera inside a church in itself makes the worship a little bit more entertainment and a little less participatory liturgy. Say it this way: There is no such thing as reality TV or reality streaming. The image from a camera signal sent up to a satellite and back down to a TV, a computer or a mobile device is not reality. It is a projection, and it necessarily individuates. Be honest: Do you drink coffee or surf channels while watching TV Mass?
Droel is the author of Public Friendship (National Center for the Laity, PO Box 291102, Chicago, IL 60629; $6)

Workers at Jose Andres Restaurant Win Voluntary Recognition for Union

By Mark Pattison for the Catholic Labor Network

What a wonderful world it would be if Catholic employers lived by their church’s social teaching, and not just on Sundays.

For an example of what that would be like, you need look no further than Bazaar, the new Jose Andres Group restaurant residing in the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in downtown Washington.

In January, the 100 or so workers sought voluntary recognition of their union, UNITE HERE Local 25, from the Jose Andres Group. And in early February, voluntary recognition was granted.

Therefore, no union campaign, no anti-union employer campaign, no NLRB election, and no lingering resentments – just for starters.

UNITE HERE Local 25 represents the other workers at the Waldorf Astoria.

Andres is a Catholic – a faithful, practicing Catholic Read more

Boston Labor Guild Brings Together Labor, Management

By Mark Pattison for the Catholic Labor Network

It’s not every day that you see a labor guild of any type, much less one that accepts managers – and even lawyers – as members.

Ladies and gentlemen, meet the Boston Labor Guild.

“The Labor Guild is actually a neutral organization,” says Lisa Field, the Guild’s president and board chair. “We promote and foster good labor-management relations, and we honor both sides for that. We applaud management who follow the collective bargaining agreement and who honor the collective bargaining process.”

Field, a Catholic, is associate director in the legislative division of the Massachusetts Nurses Association. But as an AFSCME member, she was a steward — then president — of a local in public higher education. “The Labor Guild ran our elections,” said, adding, “Many of our members attended labor school at the Labor Guild.”

The Labor Guild also has a fundraising awards dinner named after both Cardinal Richard Cushing of Boston, who headed the archdiocese in the 1940s when the guild was founded, and Fr. Mort Gavin, a guild chaplain and one of two Jesuit priests who were instrumental in furthering the guild.

At each dinner, four people are honored, according to Field. “One comes from labor, one comes from management,” she said. “One is an attorney,” and that prize alternates annually between labor and management, “and the fourth person is an auxiliary – a neutral.”

Field added, “We promote and foster good labor-management relations, and we honor both sides for that. We applaud management who follow the collective bargaining agreement, who honor the collective bargaining process.”

What the Boston Labor Guild is most known for, though, is its labor school.

“The Labor Guild has always been there for the working people through its school,” said Paul McCarthy, who has served continuously on its board for 47 years, although he plans to step down later in 2024. “From its ranks of students, numerous ones went on to become leaders in their right, both at the local level and the national level. It’s won a lot of national leaders.”

McCarthy likes to include current Teamsters president Sean O’Brien among that group. “He’s a Boston-area guy, a Medford guy,” he said.

While the Labor Guild’s purpose is worker education, “these are leadership skills that are being taught,” McCarthy said. “We have moved ahead by utilizing Zoom formats. We are now reaching a nationwide catchment area of people who are interested in Labor Guild programs.

“I’ll be teaching my negotiations workshop this term. And, God willing, I’ll be teaching my conflict resolution workshop in the fall. We have a tremendous array of wonderful teachers,” all of whom volunteer their time, he added.

Field teaches a class on “burning issues” in the labor movement. “It’s whatever‘s hot at the moment. I’ve had the UPS strike, privatization. I’ve had people from the Women’s Bureau from the (U.S.) Dept. of Labor come in and talk about issues, health and safety,” she said.

Beyond this form of education, the Labor Guild conducts workshops on worker rights and workers that are not in a union, to cite two examples.

“We work a lot with workers’ centers. We provide some training and give some support. We also work locally with Boston Building Pathways Program, which is a pre-apprenticeship program,” Field said.

The Guild also seeks out members of the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, people of color) community to get them into apprenticeship programs in the trades. The Guild’s program “gives them some knowledge into math in the trades, making sure they have some basic literacy to be successful in the trades. And to let them know the different jobs in the trades – and provide them some leadership training as well,” Field said. When they graduate from the program, it gives them the best possible exposure – so they know what they’re getting into.”

The Labor Guild has been on the move – literally. As the Boston area becomes more attractive, hitherto vacant Catholic properties that the Guild made its home have been sold to developers. The Guild’s current home for the past six years is the Archdiocese of Boston’s pastoral center. Field sees this as a plus.

“It helps ground us in our Catholic foundation, a social justice Catholic foundation,” she said. “I think it accentuates the fact that we are a neutral. We do provide meeting space. Some of the contracts that are up, they’ll come and rent out space from us, and they’ll do their collective bargaining at the pastoral center. It’s a positive that it’s seen as a neutral space.”

“Our office space is on the top floor right down the hall from the cardinal, Cardinal (Sean) O’Malley. Saving grace,” McCarthy said. “The saving grace is the labor movement itself.”