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We Should Be Standing Up For NFLRA As Much As We Did For Chicago Teachers Union

This week there has been a lot of talk about the Chicago Teachers Strike.  While the teachers are standing up for what is right, there are others that also should be mentioned. Before I go into detail about them I want to give a little background on strikes and lockouts.

For those who are unfamiliar with all the different labor union terms let me break them down for you.

1. A Strike: When the union votes to stop work and walk out on the company until the company will resolve the issue that prompted the strike.  (Contract disputes, lack of fair negotiating)

2. A Lockout:  It is when the employer decided to ‘lock’ the employees out.  This is a strike in reverse.  Employees are not allowed to work and until the company decides to let them back in.  In most cases, the employer will hire ‘replacement’ employees during a lockout.

While everyone was talking about the Strike in Chicago many people did not seem to notice the lockout of the NFL Referee’s.  Why? Mostly due to the fact that the NFL is still showing games on Sunday and they have Referee’s on the field.  The Referee’s you see are ‘replacement’ workers.  They have been hired in an attempt to break the union and force them to accept the demands of the employer, in this case the NFL itself.

According to the CBS news story ‘Why are the NFL refs locked out? It’s all in the game‘ the NFL Referee’s Association (NFLRA) is being forced into a contract that will basically cut the Ref’s pay by 16%, change their pension from defined benefit to defined contribution (401k), and force these Part Time Referee’s to give up their second jobs and work solely for the NFL.

The lockout has become a strong arm tactic of corporations and business owners. “Since 2010, the number of lockouts in the US has doubled“.  As I stated before it is like a strike in reverse.  The difference is that nowadays there are plenty of ‘replacement’ workers to take over the jobs of the locked out employees.

Lockouts are ugly and usually end badly for workers.  Unless the ‘replacement workers’ are so bad or refuse to work in support of the locked out employees the company usually just goes on about their business leaving the locked out workers to picket without pay.

While I think the NFL Owners and the NFLRA should be able to come together and resolve their issues, unless something significant changes, I do not see that happening. (UPDATE: Please take ten seconds to sign this petition to Roger Goodell asking to return the NFL Referees)

Now it appears that the National Hockey League will lock out the players.

“Today we suggested that the parties meet in advance of the owners’ self-imposed deadline of midnight tonight,” said Steve Fehr, the NHLPA’s special counsel. “Don Fehr, myself and several players on the negotiating committee were in the city and prepared to meet. The NHL said that it saw no purpose in having a formal meeting. There have been and continue to be private, informal discussions between representatives of both sides.” (from USA Today)

This lockout seem to stem more from monetary issues than anything else.

The core economic issue is the owners’ desire to reduce the players’ share of revenue down from its current 57%. In their latest proposal, owners have offered a six-year deal with the players’ share dropping first to 49% and then 47%. Players have offered to give up some of their anticipated salary growth over the next three to five years, and they believe it would drop their share from 54.3% to 52.3% if the sport continues to grow at 7.1%. With each percentage point reduction meaning at least $33 million a year, there is a huge gap between the two positions.

The owners are working to grasp more of a share of the profits from the games and reducing the pay to the players.  This is very similar to the Verizon/CWA strike from last year.  The company make more and more money and refuse to give the workers any of the profits that comes from the workers hard work.    If they can settle their dispute over the next two weeks we could see the NHL players on the ice without effecting the regular season.

UPDATED 6:22 PM
A message from the Players to the Fans (#theplayers)

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About Matt Murray

Matt Murray is the creator and an author on the NH Labor News. He is a union member and advocate for labor and progressive politics. He also works with other unions and members to help spread our message. Follow him on Twitter @NHLabor_News
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