Saturday, March 12, 2011

Tale of Two Unions

In the span of a couple of days, headlines on the front page and sports page of your local newspaper were probably both heavy on union issues. On the front page, you read about how the governor of Wisconsin signed legislation to eliminate collective bargaining rights for certain unions; on the sports page, the news was about the NFL and its players not being able to reach an agreement on how to split the $9+ billion in revenue the league annually takes in.

So, on the one hand, we had a bunch of teachers and other public employees lose their right to negotiate salaries. On the other, we had a bunch of multi-millionaires willingly end collective bargaining negotiations with the most profitable sports league in the country - reportedly because both sides could not budge on $185 million.

Of all the problems inherent in this situation, there is only one I am going to focus on. With all the attention that the Wisconsin legislative proposal is getting, wouldn't it have been great if the NFL Players' Association had come out in full solidarity and support of Wisconsin public employees?

For starters, the demonstrations in Madison already include members of FD and PD unions, both of which are not captured under the governor's radical proposal. Obviously, the NFL is not captured either, but their star power would likely have gone a long way towards furthering the cause of the demonstrators - especially since Wisconsin's Green Bay Packers are the current NFL champions.

Ironically, most NFL players are likely registered Republicans - and it is a Republican state government in Wisconsin that is curtailing the rights that they so vigorously seem to value. God forbid the NFLPA was eliminated - they would cry foul. They should have the footballs to stand up and fight for the collective bargaining rights of others as well.