When most people think about union members, they probably picture blue-collar workers in factories. Maybe teachers, police, firefighters and other government employees come to mind.
But workers in many more fields come together in unions to have a voice on the job to improve their lives and the lives of their families—from rocket scientists at NASA (members of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers [IFPTE]) to actors like Alec Baldwin (a member of SAG-AFTRA) and all across the spectrum of work that goes on in the United States.
While the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers were getting ready for today's Super Bowl, the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) participated in several community service projects to help out the local community of the game's host city, New Orleans. The first event was "Feed the Children," where 14 current and former players, as well as other volunteers and community members, delivered much-needed care packages consisting of food and household supplies to families in need.
In New Orleans this Super Bowl week, there are plenty of fans sporting 49ers' red and gold caps and jerseys and Ravens' purple and black gear. But there also are thousands of union members—including many from unions in the Greater New Orleans AFL-CIO (GNO)—who proudly display their union label and are making the game possible and the fan experience in the Crescent City run smoothly.
Football is a dangerous sport by nature, but it doesn't have to be as dangerous as it is today.
The NFL Players Association (NFLPA) has awarded $100 million to Harvard Medical School for a 10-year study of player injuries and illnesses, including brain trauma. The study is funded under the collective bargaining agreement the players reached recently with the NFL. Its goal: to transform the health of current and retired players, whose lifespan averages 20 years less than men who are not professional football players.
Show your solidarity Super Bowl Sunday by not only cheering on your favorite NFL Players Association (NFLPA) members on the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens, but also buying union-made-in-America food and drinks for your party. Check out these union-made Super Bowl party products, compiled by our friends at Labor 411, the union business directory from the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor. Food and drinks are brought to you by the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM), the UAW, Machinists (IAM), Teamsters (IBT) and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW).
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:
This football season has become a disaster because of the greed of NFL management and team owners—who brought in more than $8.3 billion in revenue last year and who don't mind making a quick buck at the expense of NFL players’ safety, NFL fans and the integrity of America’s game, says AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka in an e-mail to online activists.
If you were building a bridge, would you hire a work crew with a few hours of metal shop on their résumés, or trained and certified Ironworkers? Would you go into surgery with someone who only has a CPR certificate, or a real doctor with a medical degree?
If you’re NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, or one of the 32 NFL team owners, you'd go with the newbie—at least it seems that way, given their decision to lock out professional NFL officials and instead use untrained, unprepared and in-over-their-heads replacement referees.