Archives for August 2015

Work: the satisfaction – efficiency trade-off

The Sunday Review section of the New York Times (Aug. 30, 2015) published an essay titled “Rethinking Work” by Barry Schwartz.

Essentially, Schwartz points out that people work for more than just to get compensated. And although he notes that recent efforts to increase the minimum wage represents real social progress, The real issue is what makes for satisfying and purposeful work.

Schwartz cites Adam Smith’s dictum that people are naturally lazy and would work only for pay. But, he goes on to say that most workers don’t recognize themselves as “wage-driven idlers.” He cites studies to prove this.

“We care about more than money. We want work that is challenging and engaging, that enables us to exercise some discretion and control over what we do, and that provides us opportunities to learn and grow. We want to work with colleagues we respect and with supervisors who respect us. Most of all, we want work that is meaningful — that makes a difference to other people and thus ennobles us in at least some small way,” Schwartz contends.

For the entire essay, click here.

Labor News – Who’s the boss?

In NFPC This Week issue #625 (8/16-8/22/2015), we reported on the distribution of salaries between a company’s chief executive and their median wage warner. It was titled, “Who gets what?“

Today, we’ve come across The Economist (Aug. 22, 2015) essay on how employees are treated when working for a subcontractor or a franchise. This issue was the crux of wider decision when on Aug. 27 the National Labor Relations Board ruled that companies can be held responsible for labor violations committed by their contractors.

For the entire Economist essay, click here.

NLRB rules against business in pivotal joint-employer decision

By Tim Devaney – 08/27/15 02:45 PM EDT, The Hill

The Obama administration is redefining what it means to be an employer.

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) on Thursday handed down one of its biggest decisions of President Obama’s tenure, ruling that companies can be held responsible for labor violations committed by their contractors.

While the ruling from the independent agency specifically deals with the waste management firm Browning-Ferris, the so-called “joint employer” decision could have broad repercussions for the business world, particularly for franchise companies.

Opponents of the action warn the ruling could hurt businesses as diverse as restaurants, retailers, manufacturers and construction firms, as well as hotels, cleaning services and staffing agencies.
“This decision has broad implications, as it appears to upend decades of settled law defining who the employer is under the National Labor Relations Act,” said Randy Johnson, a senior vice president at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Restaurants could see the biggest changes. Fast food chains such as McDonald’s and Burger King will likely assert more authority over — or even cut ties altogether with — local franchise owners, business advocates say.

At issue in the case was whether Browning-Ferris was responsible for the treatment of contracted employees. The Houston-based company hired Leadpoint Business Services to staff a recycling facility in California.

The labor board determined Browning-Ferris should be considered a “joint employer” with the Phoenix-based staffing agency. As a result, the company can be pulled into collective bargaining negotiations with those employees and held liable for any labor violations committed against them.

The NLRB ruling is a sharp departure from previous decisions that stated companies were only responsible for employees who were under their direct control. Without the power to set hours, wages or job responsibilities, the earlier rulings held, companies could not be held responsible for the labor practices of the contractors.

But the National Labor Relations Board charted a new course Thursday, saying the old standard is “increasingly out of step with changing economic circumstances.”

Labor unions cheered the decision, saying it will help vulnerable workers challenge unresponsive employers.

“Simply put, labor laws in America have failed to keep pace as the workplace has continued to evolve,” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said in a statement.

The NLFB ruling could affect the growing number of temporary workers and independent contractors who do not receive the same protections as full-time employees.

Rather than hiring their own employees, many companies have grown accustomed to turning to staffing agencies to supply temporary workers or contract with other companies to complete tasks.

The arrangement provides them with less responsibility than for in-house employees, but it can also place those employees in somewhat of a no man’s land. They don’t know who their boss is, because the person who tells them what to do does not pay them.

The NLRB is seeking to end that situation by holding that both companies responsible as joint employers, because they “share or co-determine those matters governing the essential terms and conditions of employment.”

Teamsters union General President Jim Hoffa called the ruling a “victory for workers across America.”

“Employers will no longer be able to shift responsibility for their workers and hide behind loopholes to prevent workers from organizing or engaging in collective bargaining,” Hoffa said.

The decision is the latest in a string of major victories for labor groups under the Obama administration, which has already issued several sweeping executive actions on worker protections and wages.

The NLRB, which now has a Democratic majority, has also taken steps to make it easier for employees to unionize.

The two Republican appointees on the labor board, Harry Johnson and Philip Miscimarra, dissented from Thursday’s 3-2 ruling.

They argued that “no bargaining table is big enough” for two companies.

“Changing the test for identifying the ‘employer,’ therefore, has dramatic implications for labor relations policy and its effect on the economy,” they wrote.

Business groups had been on the warpath in anticipation of the Browning-Ferris decision.

The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), for instance, warned it could “blow up” longstanding business models.

The National Retail Federation (NRF) denounced the ruling as an instance of “unelected government bureaucrats creating roadblocks in the path of job creation.”

“This is further evidence that the NLRB has given up its position as an objective arbiter of workplace issues and sees itself as an advocate for organized labor as a means of imposing new workplace obligations and legal liabilities on well-known corporations,” said David French, the NRF’s senior vice president for government relations.

Companies are already threatening to cut ties with staffing agencies that help recruit temporary workers and subcontractors that provide janitorial and security services because they don’t want to be responsible for another company’s employees.

They say they would rather bring those jobs in-house to establish more control over the situation.

“It will make it much harder for self-employed subcontractors to get jobs,” said Beth Milito, senior legal counsel at the NFIB. “Subcontractors will come under pressure by their clients to change their employment policies or they’ll be cut out of the picture altogether.”

NFPC This Week #626, 8/23 – 8/29/2015

Of Note This Week –

Bishop Edward Braxton on the racial divide in the US

The National Catholic Register (Aug. 18, 2015) conducted an interview recently with Belleville, Ill. Bishop Braxton. Earlier this year, Bishop Braxton, who is African American, released a pastoral letter titled,  “The Racial Divide in the United States: A Reflection on the World Day of Peace 2015” [See NFPC This Week #595, 12/28/2014-1/3/2015].

In the interview, conducted the Register’s Washington correspondent, Peter Jesserer Smith, Bishop Braxton reflects on the scrutiny engendered by the violent encounters between Black Americans and White representatives of law enforcement and what progress or lack thereof exists to overcome the racial divide in the US.

In a response to a question about his awareness of this racial divide, Bishop Braxton responds: “One cannot grow up in Chicago and live as a member of the Catholic Church in the Archdiocese of Chicago without regularly seeing, hearing or learning about the challenges of multiracial and multiethnic living caused by the racial divide. Each day’s morning news provides new evidence that, in spite of many remarkable strides that have been made in the relationship between African-Americans and White Americans, a great divide continues to exist between life experiences of Black people and White people.

“What is true of the society in general is also true of the Catholic Church. In some ways, the divide may be more acute in the Church, because Black Catholics are such a small percentage of the larger Catholic community, which expresses itself primarily by means of Eurocentric culture.”

For the entire NC Register interview, click here.

Latest in Milwaukee archdiocese abuse settlement indicates more survivors to be compensated 

The latest iteration of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee plan to settle and compensate survivors of clergy sexual abuse includes additional victims, according to a report in the National Catholic Reporter (Aug. 25, 2015).

The report states,  “Among those included are victims who had lawsuits dismissed in state court in the 1990s after the state Supreme Court found that the archdiocese could not be sued for negligence. The archdiocese filed for bankruptcy almost five years ago just as a number of other cases were about to go to trial after the same court said the church could be sued for fraud for not removing known pedophiles.”

The report goes on to note,  “The plan filed Monday, Aug. 24 adds six more victims to the group of 330 who will receive the largest settlements. Most are represented by lawyers who handle cases in state court and receive about 40 percent of any settlement. Those victims would receive about $40,000 on average.

A total of 119 will receive $2,000 settlements if they agree to drop their legal claims. Originally, the archdiocese had deemed this group ineligible because their claims were unsubstantiated, but the creditors committee insisted they receive something, said Charles Linneman, chairman of the creditor’s committee and an abuse claimant.

The Milwaukee archdiocese abuse settlement is one on the most complicated of all diocesan abuse settlements where bankruptcy was involved.

For the NCR report, click here.

For the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Aug. 24, 2015) report, click here.

Faith in Public Life Webinar Series

Faith in Public Life is hosting a series of webinars in preparation for Pope Francis’s visit to the US (Already included, BUT has updated information)

NFPC has been informed by Fr. Clete Kiley, director of Immigration Policy for UNITE HERE, that Faith in Public Life, a strategy center for the faith community advancing faith in the public square, is hosting a series of webinars for clergy, event managers, and community activists to prepare for Pope Francis’s visit to the United States.

The next webinar is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 2nd, 6:00 pm CDT.

Materials for the webinar and a tool kit for the visit have been developed in partnership with the PICO network and the AFL-CIO.

For more information and to register for the webinar, go to:

For the tool kit and information to host an event in your community, click here.

Web site:

Rebuilding Your Message: Practical Tools to Strengthen Your Preaching and Teaching

Rebuild_MssFrom the award-winning authors who brought you the highly acclaimed Rebuilt: The Story of a Catholic Parish, and Tools for Rebuilding, Father Michael White and Tom Corcoran have now shared their carefully honed communication practices to offer another volume to help priests, staff, volunteers, and parishioners better proclaim the Gospel. In Rebuilding Your Message: Practical Tools to Strengthen Your Preaching and Teaching, Fr. White and Mr. Corcoran share dozens of strategies to help Catholic parishes establish and sustain excellent communications. They contend that a parish doesn’t just communicate its mission from the pulpit.  Its teaching and preaching also happen in classes and small groups, in bulletins, on the church website and social media, and through volunteers who welcome visitors through its doors. Available Sept. 4 for $15.95 from Ave Maria Press P.O. Box 428, Notre Dame, IN 46556. Tel: (800) 282-1865. Fax: (800) 282-5681. E-mail: [email protected]. Web site:

Inclusivity: A Gospel Mandate

InclusiveIn the Introduction to Inclusivity: A Gospel Mandate, Father Diarmuid O’Murchu writes that this book is about outsiders. He distinguishes between outsiders and the Chosen people stating that Christianity always opted for the outsider. This book addresses those who feel they don’t fit in. either because of an alternative vision, more earth-grounded concerns, or minority status resulting from race ethnicity, social standing, or sexual orientation. Available for $22.00 from Orbis Books, P.O. Box 302, Maryknoll, NY 10545. Tel: (800) 258-5838. Fax: (914) 941-7005. E-mail: [email protected]. Web site:

Seventy Images of Grace in the Epistles … That Make All the Difference in Daily Life

70_imagesSeventy Images of Grace in the Epistles … That Make All the Difference in Daily Life, by Norma Cook Everist is a book for all who are concerned about the gap between what people hear on Sunday and what they do in daily life during the week. What Everist does is present an interplay of stories of people’s actual lives Epistles images of grace. A list of the eight chapters will give readers an idea of how this volume is structured:

Chapter 1 – From Bondage to Freedom

Chapter 2 – Darkness Turned to Light

Chapter 3 – From Death to Life

Chapter 4 – From Alienation to Belonging

Chapter 5 – Called Out of Meaninglessness for Purpose

Chapter 6 – Beyond Suffering toward Hope

Chapter 7 – People Transformed to Be Change Agents in the World

Chapter 8 – More Images than We Can Imagine

Available for $24.00 from Cascade Books, an imprint of Wipf & Stock Publishers, 199 W. 8th Ave., Suite 3, Eugene, OR 97401. (541) 344-1528. Fax: (541) 344-1506. E-mail: [email protected]. Web site: