Archives for February 2015

Next Goal for Walmart Workers: More Hours

Hiroko Tabuchi

Mr. Rodriguez, 26, makes those trade-offs even though he already receives above-minimum wages at Walmart, and will make at least $10 an hour next year, part of a move by Walmart to raise wages for hundreds of thousands of workers.

“It’s not going to help us. We need the hours,” said Mr. Rodriguez, a member of the union-supported workers’ group, Our Walmart.

He says he constantly begs his managers for full-time work at the bustling Walmart superstore in Rosemead, Calif. He generally works around 28 hours a week, but can be assigned as few as 18.

“I work as hard as I can, and when they offer me hours, I stay,” he said. “But when the time comes, and I beg them for hours because I’m not going to afford rent, they don’t want to help me.”

The move to increase hourly wages by Walmart, which employs 1.3 million workers as the country’s largest private sector employer, is sending ripples through the retail industry. On Wednesday, the TJX Companies, which runs the discount chain T. J. Maxx, said it would follow suit, raising the pay of its hourly wage workers to at least $9 later this year, and to $10 next year.

With some progress on the hourly wage front, labor activists are highlighting another longstanding demand: more hours — and more consistent hours — for hourly-wage workers like Mr. Rodriguez, something they say will make as much a difference to workers’ pocketbooks as an increase in wages.

Walmart says about half of its hourly-wage workers work part time, and that percentage can be even higher at other retailers. Stores change many of their workers’ schedules week to week. And while many people prefer to work part time — for instance, college students eager for extra spending money — the number of part-timers who would prefer to work full time is growing, especially in the retailing and hospitality industries.

In 2007, about 685,000 of a total of 19.2 million workers in the retail sector were involuntarily employed part time, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. By 2014, the number of involuntary part-time retail workers had more than doubled, to 1.4 million, even as the total number of retail workers declined to 18.9 million.

Wages are just the first step in getting Walmart on the road toward being the type of employer that treats its employees with respect, and part of that is to set some standards around hours and work schedules,” said Rashad Robinson, executive director of ColorOfChange, an online civil rights organization that has campaigned for Walmart to raise wages and give workers better hours.

“It’s about creating an environment where employees are not just at the whim of Walmart,” he said.

At the heart of demands for higher wages and better hours, experts say, is the dwindling number of middle-class jobs. More primary wage earners who in the past may have held stable blue-collar jobs in manufacturing are now relying on low-wage jobs at Walmart or other discount retailers to support their families.

Mr. Rodriguez, who works at Walmart assembling bikes and other products, supports his fiancée on an income that can be as little as $900 a month. After spending about $550 on rent, $65 on gas for his car, as well as paying for food, diapers, cellphone costs and insurance, he can rarely afford new clothes or recreation, and when hours are especially scarce, he borrows money from his sister. He is looking for a second job to supplement his income, most likely a graveyard shift as a security guard. He is already $4,000 in debt.

“Walmart always provided jobs at the margins of the labor force — to people who were just re-entering the labor force after many years, for example, or supplementing a spouse’s income,” said Gary N. Chaison, professor of industrial relations at Clark University. “But what you’re increasingly finding is that it’s the primary wage earners who work at Walmart, because a lot of workers have more or less given up on getting middle-class jobs.”

“Now these workers are being pushed into Walmart-type jobs, they’re demanding higher wages, full-time jobs and better benefits,” he added. “So I wouldn’t necessarily interpret Walmart’s higher wage as a sign of an economic turnaround. I would interpret it as permanently bad news.”

At the same time, Walmart and other retailers, facing stiff competition and shrinking margins, have taken a more severe approach to controlling labor costs, doing more to align staffing to customer traffic. Sometimes that involves sophisticated software that tracks the flow of customers and allows managers to assign just enough employees to handle the anticipated demand.

By hiring a large pool of hourly workers whose hours can expand or contract depending on business need, retailers can better sync hours to demand, experts say; posting schedules with limited advance notice allows managers to further minimize the risk of assigning too many hours. Restricting work hours also limits outlays on overtime and employee benefits.

“A number of companies have become more focused on keeping a very tight link between variations in consumer demand and the number of staffing hours,” said Susan J. Lambert, an employment expert at the University of Chicago. “It’s easier to do that if you have a lot of people who can be scheduled for very short shifts, and who are hungry for hours.” She added, “But that makes it harder, harder and harder for these workers to move up the ladder in terms of wage growth.”

Walmart has said that on top of raising wages, it will work to give some employees more control over their schedules. It is also pursuing broad changes to its hiring, training, compensation and scheduling programs, said Kory Lundberg, a company spokesman.

“The company is creating clearer career paths for associates so they know what is expected of them in order to move from entry-level positions to jobs with more responsibility, including full-time positions,” he said. “Associates across the country have access to more than one million extra hours a week. The good news is, associates are able to select these open shifts whenever they want to pick up more hours beyond what they are scheduled.”

At both state and federal levels, there have been some efforts to address the problem of hours and scheduling. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors in November passed a law requiring retailers to post schedules two weeks in advance and to give any extra hours that become available to existing workers, rather than hire new workers.

For Kelly Sallee, 22, a cashier at a Walmart in Dayton, Ohio, more hours would mean more savings toward a wedding and starting a family — something she has put off for over a year because she feels unable to afford even a small wedding. She makes $8.15 as a cashier, and will make at least $9 when Walmart’s wage increases kick in.

But assigned as few as 21 hours a week, she will still struggle to pay bills or the rent, which she splits with her fiancé, Calvin, who makes even less than Ms. Sallee at his job at a local Subway. They have no car, and have unpaid medical bills of $500. They are both looking for other full-time jobs.

At Ms. Sallee’s number of hours, a higher hourly wage could translate to less than $20 a week. With a price tag of almost $5,000, even a modest wedding at the All in One Banquet Center in Ohio — her dream wedding venue with a gazebo and pretty white fencing — seems very much out of reach.

“I just don’t feel like I have enough money for any of that,” she said. “Not without more hours.”

I have been told that there is a procedure for designating an official delegate to the NFPC convocation. If so, how is this done?

NFPC This Week #602, 2/22/-2/28/2015

Of Note this week – 

Convo-LogoEarly Bird Registration continues until March 20 for the 2015 NFPC Convocation in Louisville. Click here for more information and to register.

Inc_TaxGuide-1NFPC’s new Income Tax Guide for Clergy for Tax Year 2014 is now available. This publication is available as a PDF download. Click here to order.

Notre Dame’s Father Theodore Hesburgh dead at 97

Photo courtesy of Catholic News Service

Photo courtesy of Catholic News Service

Holy Cross Father Theodore Hesburgh, who led the University of Notre Dame as its president from 1952 to 1987 died on Thursday, February 26 at the age of 97.

A posting on the front page of the university’s web site states: “I never wanted to be anything but a priest, which is in itself a great and unearned grace. I hope to live and die a priest, nothing more, but nothing less either.”

A statement by Notre Dame’s current president Father John Jenkins, CSC, “We mourn today a great man and faithful priest who transformed the University of Notre Dame and touched the lives of many,” said Holy Cross Fr. John I. Jenkins, Notre Dame’s president. “With his leadership, charisma and vision, he turned a relatively small Catholic college known for football into one of the nation’s great institutions for higher learning.

“Although saddened by his loss, I cherish the memory of a mentor, friend and brother in Holy Cross and am consoled that he is now at peace with the God he served so well.” [National Catholic Reporter, Feb. 27, 2015]

For the NCR report, click here.

For the Catholic News Service (Feb. 27, 2015), click here.

Priest’s visit to Alaskan island turns into a month’s odyssey   

Fr. Ross Tozzi. Photo courtesy of Holy Rosary Catholic Church, Dillingham, AK

Fr. Ross Tozzi. Photo courtesy of Holy Rosary Catholic Church, Dillingham, AK

Father Ross Tozzi, a priest of the Diocese of Fairbanks and NFPC’s province representative from Anchorage is used to suddenly having to change plans. Being pastor of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Nome and St. Jude Mission in Little Diomede Island often call for a “plan B” due to weather (mostly) and other obstacles.

On January 21, Father Tozzi left by helicopter to Little Diomede for a funeral. He had planned for a six-day trip. Little Diomede is located in the Bering Strait and is actually closer to Russia than the US.

As of now the six-day journey has turned into a nearly six-week unscheduled stay. The problem – broken helicopters and weather.

From his cell phone, Fr. Ross spoke with radio station KNOM. He said there’s a attitude of “riding out the storm,” he said“There’s a sense that we have the capability to endure. It would be nice if things were different, but when the chips are down we share.”

“The thing that’s more critical (are) things like prescriptions,” he said. “The pharmacies only want to issue a quantity as if you could go back to the pharmacy very easily, and get an additional supply. But for people in Diomede, some have run out of some of their prescription, and (are) awaiting the mail to bring them now for four weeks.”

The state’s Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services said the department is in “close communication” with Diomede leaders. While there haven’t been any requests for emergency aid, the state is standing by if asked to step in.

For the KNOM posting and audio interview, click here.

For the Alaska Dispatch News (Feb. 25, 2015), click here.

Bishops are key to priests’ wellbeing

A feature in the Winter 2014 issue if Human Development Magazine focuses on the relationship of bishops and priests. The feature is in the form of an interview the editors of Human Development conducted with Bishop Thomas Dowd, auxiliary bishop of Montreal. Bishop Dowd at 44 is the youngest bishop in North America.

The interview is based on a talk given by Bishop Dowd at the Guest House Summer Leadership Conference held in summer 2014 in Naperville, IL. It forms part one in of the overarching title, Bishops Are Vital to Priests’ Well-Being.

In the extensive interview Bishop Dowd emphasizes the importance of priests’ gatherings. He states, “I can’t put my foot on it, but there’s something magical that happens when priests get together … They are able to look at each other and say, ‘We know each other.’ That recognition, that mutual acknowledgement is very powerful.”

In the interview Bishop Dowd also points out the importance of including retired priests in priests gatherings. Retired priests say to the bishop, “I appreciate being consulted,” to which Bishop Dowd responds, “You’re a man of wisdom with all this experience, why wouldn’t I consult you?”

Bishop Dowd’s interview is followed by an opinion by Fr. Anthony Cutcher, president of NFPC.

Human Development Magazine is available in both print and digital formats. To subscribe, go to: Or contact the editor at: Human Development Magazine, 1601 Joslyn Rd., Lake Orion, MI 48360. 1-877-545-0557. Email: [email protected].

US bishops turning up heat on immigration reform

Over the last week three US bishops have ramped up the conversation about enacting immigration reform.

On Feb. 24, the Crux website reported that Indianapolis Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin, CSsR, wrote an open letter to Indiana Governor Mike Pence asking him to withdraw Indiana from a lawsuit seeking to stop President Obama from implementing immigration policy changes.

“This lawsuit, if ultimately successful, will force immigrants back into the shadows and expose them to deportation — which will lead to separating families, depriving children of their parents’ love, removing young men and women from the only country they have known, and tearing the fabric of whole communities,” states the letter, which also was signed by leaders of other Christian, Jewish, and Islamic communities.

The Crux posting also noted that Tucson Bishop Gerald Kicanas testified before a Congressional Committee recently, urging lawmakers not to press on with “enforcement-only” immigration bills.

“Our country is judged by how we treat the most vulnerable,” said Bishop Kicanas, “and the removal of protections from children flies against human decency and violates human dignity. We should not punish these children, who themselves are innocent and are only seeking opportunity and safety.”

The National Catholic Register (Feb. 26, 2015) reported on an interview with Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration.

In the interview, conducted with Register contributor Joan Frawley Desmond, Archbishop Gomez points out that, “All the political maneuvering is just delaying the process of welcoming out brothers and sisters who have been here a long time.” He went on to say, “Some people who came to the cathedral this [past] weekend for Mass [said they are] losing hope. Our brothers and sisters have children who want to make a contribution to society. The delaying, postponing and political games are frustrating.”

In a lecture titled “Immigration as Paradigm for Faith & Social Justice” at the Catholic University of America on Feb 14, Brownsville Bishop Daniel Flores urged an end of social “paralysis” on immigration and to approach the issue with faith.

Bishop Flores framed a challenge to the church and to all who believe in Christ’s model of justice, saying they are called to break free of “paralysis … the human affliction of our time,” that keeps people from acting to protect those most in need.

For the Crux report, click here.

For the National Catholic Register interview, click here.

For Bishop Flores entire lecture, click here.

For the Catholic News Service (Feb. 26, 2015) report, click here.


A Peaceable Economy

Peace_EconReaders of A Peaceable Economy, by Edward Dommen will find threads of Pope Francis’ thoughts of economic justice. He compares the study of economics to the study of theology. Dommen posits two definitions of economics, i.e. 1. “Economics is the social science that analyses the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services”; and 2. From Lionel Robbins, “Economics is the science which studies human behavior as a relationship between ends and scarce means, which have alternative uses.” The volume explores the dynamic tension between these two realities. Perhaps this sentence describes the book best: “This book is a rethinking of the foundational elements of economics. Taking a critical look at the basic assumptions about economic life. It offers hopeful vision of economic possibilities rooted in peace, while critiquing the affinities between economics and war.” Available for $7.00 from International Specialized Books Services, 920 NE 58th Ave. Suite 300, Portland, OR 97213-3786. Tel: (503) 287-3093. Fax: (503) 280-8832. E-mail: [email protected]. Web site:

Practicing Hope: A Handbook for Building HIV and AIDS Competence in the Churches

Pract_HopePracticing Hope: A Handbook for Building HIV and AIDS Competence in the Churches, by Sue Parry gives a global perspective to HIV/AIDS epidemic. The volume is produced by the World Council of Churches. While in the United States the focal point for HIV/AIDS surfaces on December 1st World AIDS Day, in many parts of the world such as Eastern Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, it is a daily concern. What Sue Parry, a physician in Zimbabwe attempts in her writing is to promote a comprehensive guide to mainstreaming HIV competence through a deeper understanding of cultural and religious influences that mark the entire dimension of the epidemic in parts of the world. Available for $22.00 from International Specialized Books Services, 920 NE 58th Ave. Suite 300, Portland, OR 97213-3786. Tel: (503) 287-3093. Fax: (503) 280-8832. E-mail: [email protected]. Web site:

Council Notes from Louisville

The director of the Diaconate Office gave the first report at the January meeting of the Louisville Council.

  • 12 men have been accepted for the 2020 permanent diaconate formation class and 13 are still in the application process.
  • The archdiocese has a total of 133 deacons, 103 of whom are active.

The chancellor gave a report on archdiocesan finances and budget.

–       The Catholic Services Appeal collections are on track.

–       Due to “choppy” financial market, a strategy for diversifying to lower risk investments is recommended.

–        A 2.5% salary increase is suggested for the 2015-2016 fiscal year.

–        The next topic was long-range archdiocesan needs. They include

Retreat center, planning for associate pastors in some parishes, planning for next generation of lay ministers, planning for more Catholic cemeteries, exploring new strategies for planned giving and stewardship, exploring a new capital campaign, ways to evangelize beyond the local church.

–     The archdiocese is exploring the relocation of the Chancery office to a more centralized and accessible location. No decision has been made at this time.

 –    Plans are underway on how best to give input for the ordinary Synod on the Family in October. Priests’ Council feedback regarding the synod’s Lineamenta is being discussed.

 –    Plans for archdiocesan families to attend the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia in September are being made.

The Vicar for Clergy will have the parishes with open listings ready by mid-February.