Saturday, June 19, 2021

Professional sports unions shine spotlight on the eternal labor versus management fight.

June 4, 2021 by  
Filed under News, Opinion, Sports, Weekly Columns

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( This season will be the first 17-game regular season in National Football League history. Despite the physical toll and grind each NFL game can be for the participants, the NFL is adding an additional extra regular season game while subtracting one preseason game. Understandably, numerous NFL players complained on social media earlier this year about the additional regular season game but the NFL Players Association agreed to add another game when it reached its new 10-year collective bargaining agreement in 2020. It was an important example of the agreement made by the NFL and the NFL Players Association. The different players associations and unions for the “Big Four” professional sports leagues of the NBA, NFL, NHL, and Major League Baseball have some significant differences than other labor unions across America but there are some similarities as well.

Oftentimes, in free agency or salary disputes, sports fans are conditioned to root against professional athletes who make several millions of dollars in order to view their favorite sports team’s success in terms of financial frugality and cost efficiency. It is rooting for the team that allows many sports fans to forget that they are much more like the multi-million-dollar professional athletes who represent the labor than the billionaire owners of the sports teams who represent the management. Weeks ago, players associations from the four major North American professional sports leagues issued a statement of support for the passage of the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, or The PRO Act.


The statement from the MLB Players Association, The National Basketball Players Association, NFL Players Association and the NHL Players Association said, “Now is the time to overcome decades of increasing obstacles to working people who choose to exercise their right to organize a union and bargain collectively. We have all experienced first-hand the benefits a union can bring, and believe all workers should have the same fair chance to work together to improve their pay, benefits and working conditions. We urge passage of the #PROAct without further delay.” Clearly, these associations are not just advocating for the passage of this bill for their own gain and it is powerful seeing professional athletes collectively put some support around the workers and working class of this country.

This pandemic has greater highlighted the mistreatment of workers across the globe. In 2020, unions and working people in India held a mass nationwide strike that was organized by several trade unions across the country. It was arguably the largest general strike in the world with over 200 million workers and was followed by a farmers’ protest march to the capital of India, New Delhi. Many people were aware of the Bessemer Amazon Union Drive in Bessemer, Alabama in which created one of the rare times in the history of Amazon that workers had the opportunity to vote in a union election. In December of 2020, the National Labor Review Board charged Amazon with illegally firing a warehouse worker who organized to improve working conditions during COVID-19. Unfortunately, Amazon secured enough votes last month to defeat the unionization drive at one of its Alabama warehouses even though there are accusations that Amazon used illegal tactics to intimidate employee voters. Professional sports unions and players associations aren’t quite identical in size, actions, and goals as other labor unions but it is noteworthy that they took a stance for workers unions across the country.

Staff Writer; Mark Hines

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