Tuesday, February 8, 2011

...and now, in NFL lockout news

Former Pittsburgh Steeler Nolan Harrison explains why it's a big deal for NFL players to have health insurance after they've retired from the game.

Injuries are an issue keeping the players and the owners apart on a new contract. So is the length of the season. We're less than a month away from the end of their collective bargaining agreement, which expires on March 3. The owners are expected to lock out the players on March 4.

Aside from missing the game, why should anyone care that owners lock out workers who made an average of $1.9 million a year in 2009?

As the late, great Bob Feller might say, it's the principle that workers have a right to join together to bargain collectively. Whether you earn $1.9 million or $19,000 a year, you are still a worker because you're employed at the whim of someone else who signs your paycheck.

Harrison stood up for that principle yesterday on the picket line at Dallas/Fort Worth airport. Harrison and  two other retired NFL players (former Kansas City Chief Ken Jolly and former L.A. Ram Isiah Robertson) joined an informational picket by Transport Workers United mechanics and baggage handlers at American Airlines. The TWU workers have been without a contract since 2006.

Here's another principle: Owners don't have a unilateral right to demand more work for less pay. The owners want to add two more games to the regular season and pay the players less. Says Denver Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton,
Fair compensation and a safe workplace is something that all Americans want, including the players of the NFL.
And here's a reality: The owners could be the only ones making more money if they lock out the players. That's because they've negotiated contracts with the networks that guarantees them revenue even if the games aren't played. The players took the owners to court, claiming they've bought themselves lockout insurance in violation of their contract.

If the players do get locked out, more than 100,000 jobs would be affected and more than $140 million would be lost to every city with an NFL team.

Sign a petition here to block the lockout.