It all started with clean socks and jocks

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.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, January 27th, 2011 at 5:03 pm and is filed under Jobs. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 Responses to “It all started with clean socks and jocks”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by AmericanRightsAtWork and Michael Wasser, BreRVA. BreRVA said: MT @araw: A lockout will hurt workers: Recap of coalition call w/ Kimberly FB & NFLPA's @GeorgeAtallah http://bit.ly/hFGO6E […]

  2. Al Meredith says:

    It is probably time to start a new football league.

    The team owners have grossly overestimated their power. A partnership between the players, the NFLPA and the FBS colleges for example could finance the transition and provide stadia which are otherwise unused most Sundays.

    The owners have also overestimated their importance to the game. They have apparently forgotten that the value of their franchises is due to the popularity of the game with the paying public. Do they really think people will stop watching football if the names of the teams are changed?

    60 years ago the aggregate value of professional football was approximately $0, today it is about $25 billion. The owners have done very well and they should be a bit more grateful. They should also be worried. Monster Truck Derby and Tractor Pull events do not pay as well as football games. With a new league starving the owners every stadium will be available for 5-15 cents on the dollar in 2 years. That $25 billion equity is more precarious than many imagine.

    The owners will use every CBA negotiation and accounting trick to enrich themselves and cheat the players and fans. That is their job. So, even if the lockout is settled tomorrow on the most favorable terms to the NFLPA, the groundwork should begin to establish a new league.

    With revenue of $8-9 billion and equity of $25 billion this would be a great gamble with very limited risk.

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