Saturday, March 12, 2011

The NFL Impasse

As a union member I am rather annoyed when professional athletes call themselves a union. The most important thing that unions do is negotiate pay through collective bargaining. The NFLPA doesn't do that. The NFLPA is a specialized professional guild like the AMA. The NFLPA negotiates working conditions and the circumstances under which teams may sign players to the contracts that they negotiate themselves through their agents. (Football players would shit their pants if they had a union that negotiated pay for all based some kind of a fair system that rewarded all position players using a  formula that quantified  production while taking seniority into consideration.) The owners and the players both represent exclusive groups: Those who own NFL franchises and those who can play at the highest level of football.

The average worker  in a union, the average person, cannot identify with either group because he could not qualify as a member of either elite set of people. But the average person's interest and attendance makes those gigantic contracts possible.

The players are doing the union movement a disservice by trying to set themselves up as downtrodden workers.  I understand that players have problems that need to be negotiated with owners. Workplace safety, health care and pensions are important considerations for football players. Medical Doctors may have issues with hospitals and pharmaceutical corporations, but that doesn't put them on a par with workers who are scraping by. And doctors are smart enough not to try to present such an equivalence. Football players, in general are not as smart as doctors. Unions do not  need rich guys trying to present themselves as laborers at this time. It brings the stench of overpaid entitlement to working people who are trying to keep the hard won achievements of a living wage and benefits while being demonized by plutocrats and their political stooges. It is not beneficial for wage workers to be associated with professional athletes who are set up for life simply because they played a game for a few years. The NFLPA's use of the decertification ploy also indicates that they really don't value their "union" as an entity.

Have we seen any NFL players marching in solidarity in Wisconsin? I can't remember that I've seen any. I understand that the (now defunct) NFLPA announced it was in support of Wisconsin public workers. But talk is cheap. I suspect most of the former members of the NFLPA are sympathetic with Governor Scott Walker and vote Republican. The minimum wage in the NFL was $320,000 in 2010. And most of the owners are  rich guys who cannot really identify with the average citizen and donate to Republican politicians who are trying on their behalf to destroy the real union movement that represents real workers.  Twelve NFL owners just made Forbes List of the 1,210 billionaires in the world today. Neither side has bargained in good faith. The union had a decertification scheme in place that they had every intention to use. The owners had their lock-out plan.  So I guess I'm just saying a pox on both of their  houses.

And who are the athletes who really could  use a union and will never have one because it is too late and the sport is basically dead? That would be professional boxers.

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