Our History

The Labor Guild traces its roots back to the Great Depression. In response to rapid industrial unionization, church-sponsored classes were launched in urban and industrial cities across the country to educate Catholic workers about their legal rights on the job. Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, these Catholic labor schools were held in school buildings and parish basements in well over 200 cities across the US.  Rank-and-file union members, stewards, officers and negotiators were trained in leadership, labor law, organizing, contract negotiation, grievance handling, public speaking, ethics, and union governance. And those students brought along co-workers of all denominations.

  • 1935–42 — With the approval of Boston’s William Cardinal O’Connell, local parishes in Boston and several MA industrial cities conducted adult evening classes (called “The Labor Guild” in some locations, and “Catholic Labor School” in others). Students were taught nuts-and-bolts labor law, grievance administration, contract negotiations, public speaking, etc.
  • 1945–50 — Labor Guild established by Archbishop Richard Cushing. Msgr. Joseph Robinson appointed Chaplain.
  • 1952 — After a break in service, Cardinal Cushing recharters the Guild at the request of labor leaders. The Guild takes off under the dynamic, new leadership of Father Francis McDonnell, an Archdiocesan priest.
  • The Guild will be in continuous operation from this date. Run under the auspices of the Archdiocese, the Guild becomes an ecumenical organization well in advance of Vatican II.
  • 1953 — The Guild’s School opens in the spring; classes are held at Newman Preparatory School.
  • 1954 — The first issue of our newsletter, LABOR LIFE, is published.
  • 1956 — Fr. McDonnell becomes the Guild’s full-time Chaplain/Executive Secretary.
  • 1962 — After 10 successful years as the Guild’s Chaplain, Fr, McDonnell (later Monsignor) steps down to become pastor of a large Lynn parish.
  • 1962 Fr. Mortimer Gavin, S.J., a professional mediator and Holy Cross College faculty member, is appointed as the new Guild Chaplain and Director of The Institute of Industrial Relations. The School moves to the former Boston College High School building on Harrison Avenue, in the South End. Guild membership is extended to management representatives, labor and management attorneys, and other labor relations professionals (academics, arbitrators, consultants, etc.)
  • 1967 — First Cushing Award Dinner.
  • 1970Fr. Edward Boyle, S.J., is appointed Associate Chaplain.
  • 1975 —The Guild supervises its first Union election.
  • 1983 — Labor Guild publishes the first edition of “Your Rights on the Job” by Robert Schwartz.
  • 1984 — RIP Fr. Gavin, S.J. With Guild 22 years.
  • 1984 — Appointment Fr. Boyle, S.J., Chaplain/Executive Secretary.
  • 1985 — Gavin Conference Center opens at Guild Headquarters on Harrison Avenue, Boston
  • 1987 — Labor Guild moves to building on St. Ann’s Parish campus on Hancock Street, North Quincy. Generous support of donors and the Building Trades unions renovate a former convent into a 3-story school/conference center.
  • 1989 — First Management Forum.
  • 1991 — Launch of Annual Labor Management Conference at Boston College.
  • 2003 — Move to 85 Commercial St., Weymouth on the campus of Sacred Heart Parish. With generous support of donors and donated labor of Building Trades unions, a major facility renovation creates a new Guild headquarters and school/conference center.
  • 2007 — RIP Mary Gavin Standley, Guild’s Office Manager.  With the Guild for 44 years.
  • 2007 — RIP Fr. Edward F. Boyle, S.J. With Guild for 37 years.
  • 2008 — Appointment of Sr. Mary Priniski, O.P., a dynamic Adrian Dominican nun, as Guild Chaplain/ Executive Secretary. She becomes a founding member of Catholic Scholars.
  • 2009 — Sr. Mary is recalled by her order to serve as Prioress after 18 months.
  • 2009Fr. Patrick Sullivan CSC, a former professor at Kings College and Notre Dame, is appointed Guild Chaplain
  • 2009 — Guild School renamed The School of Labor-Management Relations
  • 2012 — Fr. Sullivan steps down. In light of a severe shortage of priests and religious, the Chaplain/Executive Secretary position is split.
  • 2012 — With the creation of a new lay Executive Director position, Allyson Every, a board member and past-Guild president is appointed. Fr. Francis Cloherty is appointed part-time Chaplain.
  • 2014 — Fr. Cloherty steps down as Chaplain after almost 3 years of service with the Guild, and returns to community action and parish work in Lynn MA. Fr. Bryan Hehir, Secretary for Health and Social Services Archdiocese of Boston, becomes the Guild’s Chaplain.
  • 2015 — In June, Deacon Eric T. Peabody, a Permanent Deacon at Sacred Hearts Parish, Bradford MA named Associate Chaplain.
  • 2015 — In August, the Labor Guild packs up its offices, operations, evening school and day programs from its Weymouth Landing home of 13 years. At the kind invitation of the Archdiocese of Boston, the Guild relocates to RCAB’s Pastoral Center in Braintree MA.

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to join the Guild and its diverse professional network starts at $35 a year.


66 Brooks Drive
Braintree MA 02184



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