It is Labor Day Weekend. That means the NFL season begins next weekend. I know a lot of people who are itching to get it started. Sorry, but I am not one of them. As many readers know, I believe the NFL stands for No Fundamentals League. I have watched football for a whole lot of years, and I have witnessed the decline in fundamental football for many of those years.
I bothers me that people making millions of dollars do not know how to tackle or block. The number of “ole” tackles and blocks is stunning. I don’t know if players just don’t know how to play the game anymore, or if they are just lazy and won’t earn their paycheck. In any case, I probably watch less football than anyone I know.
But, today, I want to make a point about labor and management issues. The current mess going on in the NFL is a good starting point. I realize that the players union is different from other unions. After all, the players make millions of dollars while the average union worker makes thousands. But, all of the incidents that the NFL has faced, and its reaction to them is a perfect microcosm of owner/labor relations.
A lot of people are excited that Tom Brady had his suspension revoked by a Federal Judge. They are saying that he was “vindicated” from any role in deflategate. That is a wrong assumption on their part. The ruling had nothing to do with his involvement or not. It was simply over the process that was used to issue his punishment.
According to the court, he was never informed his actions could result in a four game suspension. Therefore, he did not know what the punishment could be which is contrary to labor negotiations. So, the league couldn’t suspend him like they did. Furthermore, the court ruled that the punishment for using performance enhancing drugs was not a legitimate comparison for this infraction.
The court never said anything about whether or not Brady had anything to do with the deflated footballs. Therefore, Brady has not been vindicated by this ruling. It was all about the process the NFL uses in doling out punishment.
The NFL and the NFLPA have a contract to spell out labor relations. The NFLPA agreed that the Commissioner would have the right to issue punishment for unbecoming conduct. The NFL has been racked with lots of incidents like spouse abuse, woman abuse, rape allegations, sexual assault, possession of firearms, and even players accidentally shooting themselves in public areas.
The NFL wants to “protect the integrity of the shield.” As a result, the Commissioner has taken dictatorial powers upon himself. Apparently, he believes he is the only person who can “protect the shield.” As a result of this behavior, he has seen his last four suspensions overturned in court. Not because the incidents didn’t deserve punishment, but because he failed to follow “due process” which is legalese for doing what is fair and just.
When deflategate hit, the union requested that the appeal process be handled by an independent arbiter. The Commission refused and conducted the appeal himself. That was where he went off the tracks. As a result of this decision which blames the process, we will probably see more suspensions overturned by the courts as well.
Which brings me back to the Labor Day issue. Here are two groups of millionaires fighting over labor rights. The owners want to dictate punishment, wages, health policies, and a host of other items. Remember, this is the only league that has a “no guaranteed contract” policy. Meaning if they sign you for six years, they can void the contract in just one or two years if they choose.
Most of the contract holdouts are not over the length or total wages for the course of the contract. They are holding out for more “guaranteed money” at the front end of the contract. That way they can financially protect themselves if a team decides to “cut” them after a couple of years.
That may be a nice system, but the average worker doesn’t get that kind of treatment. The average worker gets whatever the company says they get. If they are let go for any reason, the best they can expect is unemployment checks for up to 26 weeks. That is a far cry from guaranteed money.
The politicians have been quite mum about the labor processes in professional sports. I haven’t heard a single politician talk about “breaking the professional sports unions.” The unfortunate side is that the vast majority of Republican Politicians at all levels of government are continuously calling for “breaking the unions.”
Unions serve a real purpose. They have helped the American Economy grow by making sure their members receive the benefits of the profits they help create for the company. They negotiate fair wages, working conditions, benefits, etc., for their workers. In essence, that is what professional sports unions do as well. How does that help the economy? It helps the economy because workers have money to spend. When people have money to send they spend it, thus increasing demand for goods and services. Rising demand creates more jobs, and thus grows the economy even more.
But, since the members of average unions are not millionaires, they don’t have the political clout that professional sports players do. As a result, since their “demands” of fair wages, working conditions, and benefits cut into the profits of the stock holders, they are demonized and called “job killers.”
Union membership exploded after World War II. As a result, the economy also exploded. Union membership was at its highest and workers were actually making a livable wage. Today, union membership is at its lowest point since before the war. And, we are seeing more income inequality than we have since before World War I.
Politicians and the top 1% wage earners have conspired to take away unionization from the workers. They don’t want those pesky union people demanding more than a twenty-five cent raise in pay when the company is making billions of dollars in profit.
Unions are blamed for jobs being shipped overseas. That is a total lie. Jobs are being shipped overseas because deregulation combined with tax loopholes have made it easier for companies to ship them overseas. The so-called “Free Trade Agreements” have cost Americans several million manufacturing jobs, not the unions.
We have all had discussions about income inequality and stagnant wages for the working class. There is a direct correlation between the income inequality and stagnant wages with the demise of unions. Without collective bargaining, workers no longer have a voice. Without union representation, workers are no longer protected.
As a result, owners and share-holders have total control over wages, working conditions, and benefits. That means wages, working conditions, and benefits have been eroding quicker than you can say “oh, shit.” How else would it be possible for someone to be hired as a CEO, ruin the company, and then be given a “golden parachute” worth tens of millions of dollars as an exit strategy and the workers are given nothing?
As we celebrate this Labor Day Weekend, remember that we are supposed to be celebrating LABOR! That means we are supposed to be celebrating every working person in this country. The best way we can celebrate our workers, is to get rid of the people who want to keep them down. The ones who don’t want to support livable wages.
The one slogan you won’t hear Republicans tout this election is “vote your pocketbook.” That is because the vast majority of Americans don’t have much in their pocketbook, thanks to Republican Policies that are intended to keep the workers down.
Unemployment is down to 5.1 per cent. That is the lowest it has been in over seven years. But, if Republicans in Congress haven’t been holding up bills like the Infrastructure Bill, unemployment could be lower than 4 per cent. And, more Americans would be making a livable wage.
Plus, a low unemployment isn’t worth that much when Republicans say over-and-over that you should just work more and stop complaining about low wages. According to them, allowing you to make enough to support your family will just “kill jobs.”
So, as you can see, the NFL is no different than any other corporation. The owners simply want to keep their employees under control for more profits for the owners. It all sounds an awful lot like Mitt Romney, Scott Walker, Chris Christie, Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, and the rest of the Republican candidates.
It is your choice. My pocketbook tells me that Republicans are constantly inside them trying to take money from me to give it to the rich. To me, that is income redistribution at its worst. I don’t want them to give up their millions, I just want them to recognize that WE BUILT THAT, not them and therefore pay us what we are worth. Without us and our labor, they would be broke.
That is what Labor Day should be about! By the way, if you love watching big men run into each other without actually tackling them, enjoy the NFL season.