Yesterday, American Rights at Work Executive Director Kimberly Freeman Brown and George Atallah, the NFL Players Association’ Assistant Executive Director for External Affairs, held a briefing call to discuss the implications of a lockout for all workers. Kim and George were joined on the call by a diverse group of non-labor organizations, coalitions, and think tanks, including: Center for American Progress , National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, Drum Major Institute for Public Policy, Jobs with Justice, Military Saves, National Consumers League, Center for Economic and Policy Research, and The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.
George began the call by reminding the participants that while labeled an “association,” the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) is in fact a union. It was formed in 1956 with the rallying cry “clean socks and jocks,” in response to team owners refusing to provide clean uniforms. Ever since, the NFLPA has been fighting for many of the same workplace protections as workers in other industries—including health care, pensions, and safety on the job. And with the threat of a lockout looming, the NFLPA is standing with the hundreds of thousands of everyday workers – from the grounds crew in the stadium to the bell hops in the hotels – who would lose their jobs without a football season.
As for negotiations, the players want nothing more than to keep the current collective bargaining in place. It’s a model that works and doesn’t need to be tampered with by the owners, especially given the enormous profits the NFL enjoys today. Players are standing firm against lengthening the season by two games to a total of 18 games, which would mean more work for less pay and a substantial increase in injury risks. Ultimately, however, the players face a challenge that’s all too common for workers today: Their employer is demanding concessions that simply aren’t justified by any economic reality. It’s profits first, workers second.
The NFLPA is still meeting with the owners at the bargaining table and will continue to do so through the March 3 deadline. At that point, assuming a lockout begins immediately, players and families will lose access to their incomes and benefits. That means no health care, regardless of the damage from this past season. It also means no work for stadium workers, and a lot less business for employers located near the stadium.
Fortunately, you can help. Sign the players’ petition demanding that the NFL not cancel next season. And check out the video below, a new ad from the NFLPA that forecasts the impact of a lockout on players, workers, and fans.