NFL Referees, your low paying job and labor unions

Its football preseason time and the regular season is quickly approaching. Madden 13 finally came out. NFL labor negotiations are a thing of the (recent) past. Well, except for the referees. The league has locked out their referees over contract negotiations. You would think that referees are almost as important an aspect to any sport as equipment or coaches. But the NFL seems to think they are not all that important, and easily replaceable.

What does this have to do with our shitty paying jobs? Its all about workers verses owners (and not the mom and pop down the street, we’re talking about the super wealthy, elite business owners). In the last several years, the NHL, NBA and NFL have all had their seasons adversely affected by labor negotiations. This usually means the owners want to pay less and the workers (players) want to make more. Usually, the owners (or the league) is making a ton of profit, perhaps even more profit than the previous year, yet the workers are demanded to take pay-cuts. And so lock outs (or sometimes strikes) ensue. Many of us have similar dilemmas at work, whether we participate in them or not, whether we know they exist or not. Consider everything you know, everything you’ve read, seen or heard about your favorite sport’s last labor negotiations. Now put that into your own job: Your boss is making money hand over fist and suddenly he/she comes to you and demands that times are tough and you take a pay cut, or work more hours or get less vacation time. With rare exceptions, business owners don’t want their employees to make more money; and with few exceptions, profits that are generated by workers are reserved only for the executives. Sounds shitty right?

The point of a labor union is to combat the power of the ownership and assert the power of the workers to demand and negotiate for better compensation. That is what the NHL, NFL and NBA players’ associations are for. That’s what the NFL Referees union is supposed to do the same. And BOTH are set up to defend their members against the league and the owners. So during this referee lockout, why aren’t NFL players and the NFLPA standing strong in support of the referees? The last NFLPA negotiation focused on player health; certainly having incompetent referees officiating games poses at least a minor threat to player safety. Even if it doesn’t, these are two organizations with the same goals and the same opponents. for the future of workers everywhere, this alliance could set precedent for workers’ right in the entire country.

For more on this issue, check out the latest entry on Edge of Sports by Dave Zirin.

Why are the NFL Refs Locked Out? It’s All in the Game

What do you think?

—DJ DISCourse

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