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More Lessons from the NFL Referees Lockout

More Lessons from the NFL Referees Lockout

Berry Craig, recording secretary for the Paducah-based Western Kentucky AFL-CIO Area Council and a professor of history at West Kentucky Community and Technical College, is a former daily newspaper and Associated Press columnist and currently a member of AFT Local 1360. Craig sends us this.

Pittsburgh Steelers partisan and union radio guy Charles Showalter is happy the union refs are back on the field.

But Showalter thinks unions should use the lockout as a teaching moment. So does Bill Londrigan, president of the Kentucky State AFL-CIO. Says Showalter, host of “The Union Edge: Labor’s Talk Radio” show:

We need to get the word out that American workers are the most productive workers in the world....Everybody benefits with a union. Workers earn better wages and enjoy better benefits. Because unions are more productive, the employer makes more money. Companies that fight unions do a disservice to their workers, their communities and themselves. Unions are working to improve the lives of all working people and their communities, not just the membership. 

Says Londrigan:    

Thanks to the greedy, wealthy NFL owners, the labor movement has the opportunity to expose the skyrocketing use of lockouts by employers as a weapon to bludgeon workers into submission—coupled with the use of replacement scabs—and demonstrate that employers are willing to resort to any means available to undermine collective bargaining and bust unions—even if the product or, in the case of the NFL, the games, are destroyed in the process. 

Unions get bashed by right-wing politicians and their media pals who spend a lot of time—and money—flat fibbing about unions.

“Too often, unions drive up costs and introduce rigidities that harm competitiveness and frustrate innovation,” claims Mitt Romney’s website. “Studies conducted by non-partisan scholars have shown that labor unions reduce investment and slow job growth.” Not surprisingly, Romney doesn’t name the “studies” or the “scholars.”

But there’s a ton of evidence from real McCoy studies and scholars to back up Londrigan and Showalter, whose Steel City-based program is syndicated via the Working Families Radio Network.

For example, a 2008 survey by Independent Project Analysis Inc., showed that union construction workers are about 17 percent more productive than nonunion workers. Like union NFL refs, members of building trades unions are well-trained and take pride in their professionalism. 

It is no coincidence that the economy boomed in the years after World War II when union membership was at its highest.

It’s a shame it took a lockout involving one of the country’s most popular sports to make John and Jane Q Public sit up and take notice that union workers can be counted on to perform high-quality work. Adds Londrigan:

Ever since Reagan busted the air traffic controllers union, employers have had a field day using scabs and lockouts to virtually abolish the use of strikes as an effective weapon. Now, thanks to the greed of the NFL owners, what unions and workers who want to organize have been experiencing in isolated workplaces across America is now out in the open for all the public to see—and it isn’t pretty! 

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