Our VoiceNews & Politics

Possible NFL Player Lockout Damages Worker Rights


James E. Johnson Jr. • Feb 22, 2010

‘When elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers.’
-Ancient African proverb

The land knew peace for nearly three decades. The kings in their rented castles sent their warriors out to challenge each other once a week for 16 weeks. The warriors gave the people of the land great contests and the people were pleased. Yes, there was peace in the land and all were happy, until the kings decided not to extend their contract with the warriors.

The last labor dispute that the NFL experienced was the strike of 1987. Prior to 1987 NFL owners did not just own their franchises, in reality they owned the players also, as the players were stuck with a team unless the team let them go. That strike resulted in free agency for the players, which allowed them the opportunity after playing under contract with a team for four years to shop their talent to the team that was willing to compensate them best. The strike also resulted in the players receiving 51% of ‘football revenue’ that is generated because of their labor.

There is a great likelihood that the owners will lockout the players for the 2011 season if a contract agreement is not reached. The dispute this time around is not because the players are asking for more money; this time the dispute has come about because the owners want the players to give back some of what they won in 1987. If there is a lockout in 2011 ‘the grass’ will suffer beyond just missing football games.

Many American will ask why they should care. After all, aren’t the players overpaid anyway? The reason the average working person should care is because when one industry begins to take back benefits won by its workers, other industries are able to do the same. By pointing to those industries, they can argue that for them to be competitive they too need their workers to make concessions.

Even though the NFL Players Association has not stood by their fellow workers who have had their own contract disputes, we as working people should stand in solidarity with our brothers in labor. Maybe the next time UFCW or SEIU or The Teamsters or whichever Union is seeking to improve the lives of their members, the members of the NFLPA will remember that their fans, their brothers and sisters in labor, supported their efforts and will not sit on the sidelines.

In Solidarity and Victory.

“My friends, it is solidarity of labor we want. We do not want to find fault with each other, but to solidify our forces and say to each other: “We must be together; our masters are joined together and we must do the same thing.” –Mother Jones

http://www.flickr.com/photos/bigdogwoody2000/ / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
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