Saturday, April 30, 2011

The NFL Union's Decertification- I'm Confused

Roger Goodell, Commissioner of the NFL, wrote a thought-provoking editorial in the Wall Street Journal last week. Coming on the heels of the court decision upholding the players' union's decertification, he enumerated a set of consequences which seem to contradict the original reason for that union.

With so much government machinery in place since the 1930s to facilitate unionization, it is rare, perhaps unprecedented, for a union to dissolve itself as a response to a breakdown of negotiations with management.

To an observer like me, reading Goodell's piece, it seems that all the conventional reasons for unionization were simply tossed out the window by the better players, to the detriment of the worse.

Among the items the Commissioner cited were: no more standardized pensions; no minimum salaries; no balancing of teams with respect to salary caps, probably resulting in some teams becoming permanent 'farm teams' for better ones; no standardized rules of pension eligibility.

I have regular discussions with a friend who is a New Jersey public school teacher. He is, of course, unionized. It's not a choice, if he wants to teach in that school system. He often claims he could or should make more money for what he does, and I point out that, were teaching not unionized, he well might. But, as it is, his union protects inept teachers, thus holding down his own compensation.

In the NFL players case, we see a union, as a maneuver in response to the owners' lockout, simply contradict decades of verbiage concerning labor solidarity. Instead, they have literally abandoned each player to his own fate.

Goodell correctly asked why there is even a draft this week? The union structure with which it is associated, due to the union-pressured rules governing club hiring of players, free agency, etc., has vanished. So, in theory, every club with an interest in the best first draft choice could, and should, pursue him.

It's going to be fascinating to see how professional football morphs as a result of this novel, unexpected union move.

But it sure does seem to contradict all the usual arguments unions give for their necessity.

No comments: