Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Union Solidarity?

The gauntlet has been thrown down and things are about to get interesting. As the NFL continues to negotiate with the NFLRA over terms of a new CBA for the league’s officials, replacement officials work pre-season games. In a bold move yesterday, the NFLPA pulled out the “health and safety” card in support of the NFLRA.

In a pointed statement yesterday, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith stated:
“In America it is the employer’s obligation to provide as safe a working environment as possible. We believe that if the National Football League fails in that obligation we reserve the right to seek any relief that we believe is appropriate. The NFL has chosen to prevent the very officials that they have trained, championed and cultivated for decades to be on the field to protect players and — by their own admission — further our goal of enhanced safety.”
Let’s be clear, player safety is the priority for the NFLPA. Above salary, compensation, free agency, two-a-day practices, an 18 game schedule, and anything else you can imagine. According to reports the gap is approximately $6,000 per game to get the best football officials in the world back onto the field. The NFL’s annual revenues? Somewhere in the neighborhood of $9.3 billion PER YEAR.

A few thoughts:

1. Great to see solidarity across unions. Always wondered why the various professional sports league unions (MLBPA, NBPA, NFLPA, & NHLPA) didn’t cooperate more than they do.

2. If you don’t think the NFLPA is serious about both a) protecting their players; and b) their membership’s unhappiness with the replacement officials you’re not paying attention.

3. Lurking in the shadows of this labor impasse is the dark cloud hanging over the league—the concussion lawsuit. Unequivocally, this lawsuit threatens the financial stability of the league. Do you think that $6,000 per game is too much for the NFL to show the league’s players that safety is a concern?

For fans of the NFL, the next several days are going to be interesting.

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