Breaking the Union

By the title you might think I’m going to get into some long-winded discussion about collective bargaining rights, recent limitations on Union bargaining in some states, and the whole Scott Walker recall.  NOT!  Instead I’m going to give you a short course in labor relations 101 by discussing the current strike by NFL Officials.

The Wagner Act gives unions the right to strike if a collective bargaining agreement can’t be negotiated.  NFL officials took that course, not satisfied with their current $140,000 salaries.  By the way, this is a part time job, with many officials employed in other careers.  The corollary to the right to strike is management’s right to hire “replacement” workers.  The NFL has done just that, hiring other high-level officials to start the season while negotiations with the union continue.

It appears that the Official’s union didn’t take labor relations 101, which states that you should strike only if:

a.    No one else can reasonably do your job.
b.    You can effectively picket the work place to draw public attention to your plight while also intimidating replacement workers who might be tempted to cross the picket line.

It appears that highly-skilled non-union referees can do an adequate job.  While there have been miscalls and even a couple of embarrassing gaffes, after four weeks of exhibition games and two full weeks of regular season games, it does not appear that the outcome of any games have been determined by poor officiating.  The bad news for the striking officials is that “no one really misses you out there!”

NFL Unionized Officials also can’t picket the gates of the “plant”, which consists of a 100,000 seat stadium.  Furthermore, the average football fan isn’t going to express a lot of concern about the disadvantaged, over-worked part-time officials that make only $140,000 a year.

I don’t know how this strike will end, but there is a distinct possibility that the officials that you are watching on the field will end up being permanent NFL officials.  That’s called “breaking” a Union.  Normally there are a lot of broken families and hard feelings when a labor dispute occurs.  This one seems to be distinctly painless.

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