Wisconsin, the NFL, and the TEA

Collective bargaining.

Right now there are three stories on my radar in the news that are deeply rooted in “Collective Bargaining.”

  • Governor Walker of Wisconsin is supporting legislation that signals the beginning of the end of collective bargaining for public employees other than fire, police and state troopers. As a result all 14 Democratic State Senators fled to Illinois to avoid any legislative vote on the issue.
  • The NFLPA collective bargaining agreement ends as of March 1, 2011. Current NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has been conducting closed negotiations in order to have a new agreement in place to avoid a lockout and/or player strike for the 2011 season.
  • Locally, the Tennessee Education Association (the teachers union) is vocally opposed to changes in legislation proposed in the 2011 session in Nashville.

Each of these groups feel like they have something to lose if they don’t get their way.

  • The Senators in Wisconsin are, among other things, worried the unions will come after their seats, primary them, and replace each of them with more rabid versions of themselves. Out of office means out of power, and they wouldn’t want to lose that.
  • The NFLPA is afraid that the players will be ‘forced’ to play two additional games each season with no compensation. Never mind that the players are under contract to play regardless of how many games there are, not to mention they would be paid if they were injured. If they miss an entire season, they are paid as though they played in every game. If they play every game, they are paid fairly.
  • The Tennessee teachers union refuse to relinquish control of wages, benefits, etc. even though the state is in a financial hole of $1,500,000,000. 1.5 BILLION.

These groups are all connected to enormous organizations (The State of Wisconsin, the National Football League, and the State of Tennessee). These organizations stand to lose their own power should they cede to the unions. It’s a serious conundrum. So what can they do?

I think I have some options for each of them.

Wisconsin: why not compel those State Senators to come home via the state Sergeant of Arms? Send out the SoA and the State Troopers to bring those 14 people back to do their job. Possibly put up some legislation that would encourage those 14 to return and vote on a bill they desperately want to pass, but not until they vote of the union legislation. They owe it to their constituents to appear for work, whether they like it or not.

NFL & Roger Goodell: why not offer this to the NFLPA. They have a few demands, namely keeping the 16 game season and profit-sharing with the league and owners. Seeing as how the players likely would be unable to make the money they make without the NFL (assuming a second option were not available, they could not play another professional sport or find other means of earning similar income), why not offer the following terms;

  1. The league will maintain the 16 game regular season schedule for the next 10 years or until the next CBA time arrives, whichever comes first.
  2. The players will be required to pay the league a pre-determined amount of all current and future endorsement revenues (gross) into the NFLPA Health Care fund for retired players. I think that sounds like some pretty fair profit sharing.
  3. The NFL will be compelled to discuss some form of profit-sharing in the league with the players that will also go into the NFLPA Health Care fund. The profit-sharing portion from the league could be a match of endorsement dollars that go into the fund.

Tennessee: Why not let the unions earn the raises they demand? If TN moves from 47th in the USA education standing to the top 10 in four years, they can have the raises they request. However, if TN falls out of the top ten, they are required to repay the raised amount. It only seems fair that they be paid according to their success, right?

Strangely enough, unions essentially remove the value quotient from work. There is no simple recourse for bad employees. The red tape that must be overcome in order to fire a bad employee is often a barrier to achieving the desired result. The end result is that the organization as a whole ends up weaker as the quality of workers is reduced.

Any organization working to guarantee worker pay and/or benefits seems to be a huge attack on free market capitalism. The only value with unions seems to be the ability to artificially inflate wages for less desirable jobs.

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