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  • Dropping the Ball on Unions

    The NFL’s replacement referees have missed a number of calls in recent weeks. But they’d be correct if they decided to flag Washington Post writer Brad Plumer for unsportsmanlike conduct.

    He recently committed the sin of bringing politics to the newspaper’s sports section. Having done that, Plumer deserves an additional 15 yards for then getting the politics wrong.

    Plumer tweaked Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R) for supposedly flip-flopping on organized labor. “Walker made national headlines last year when he pushed to strip Wisconsin’s government employees of their collective bargaining rights,” Plumer writes. “In many ways, however, the referee feud is fairly representative of modern labor battles playing out in Wisconsin and elsewhere.”

    Not really.

    Governor Walker was dealing with government service unions, whose members are employed by his state government. A state makes no profits, yet no matter how badly mismanaged it is, it cannot go out of business. State employees (who already enjoy civil service protection that doesn’t exist in the private sector) are simply seeking a larger share of public (taxpayer) funding.

    That’s why liberals from President Franklin Roosevelt in 1937 (“a strike of public employees manifests nothing less than an intent on their part to prevent or obstruct the operations of Government until their demands are satisfied”) to then-president of the AFL-CIO George Meany in 1955 (“It is impossible to bargain collectively with the government”) opposed work stoppages by government unions.

    The NFL field officials, on the other hand, are dealing with a private employer. Their league could go out of business if people lose interest in the game. That gives each side an incentive to compromise.

    The real NFL officials are apparently going to be back on the field tonight. As they get back to work, hopefully The Washington Post will go back to treating this work stoppage as the sports story that it is—instead of misrepresenting it while injecting politics into the sports pages.

    Posted in Economics [slideshow_deploy]

    2 Responses to Dropping the Ball on Unions

    1. Bobbie says:

      Is the government involved at all because that wasn't a touchdown, it was an entitlement. The Seattle quarterback said himself, "we took it too far for this not to be a touchdown."

    2. Linda Kiyan says:

      I am not sure what Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker meant, exactly, when he said that he is "Pro-Taxpayer, not Anti-Union.

      But after a week of being bombarded with quick sound bites, incoherent analyses and comments by sports writers, journalists, bloggers, and everyone else who wanted to share their opinion, most interpreted his statement the following way:

      He's a hypocrite; He picks and chooses favorites; He eliminated collective bargaining rights for Wisconsin state workers but wants to preserve is for the beloved NFL officials.

      and

      He's a flip-flopper; He changes his mind, is inconsistent, and therefore is weak and yields to union demands like all other politicians.

      He is how I interpret his statement:

      In every profession, when experienced employees are replaced with substitutes/surrogates, whose performance, obviously, is not up to par, but nevertheless must be publicly acknowledged as valid and legitimate, it is only natural that people on the receiving end of their services, including Gov. Walker, will want/prefer the seasoned, professionals back on the job.

      Walker was simply expressing his anger, via twitter, to the erroneous call that cast the Packers a victory.

      A reaction that was synonymous with the millions of football fans around the country, myself included, who saw the game.

      That said, as a sports fan, a politician, and all-around rational, human being, Governor Walker, can hold many personal opinions and simultaneously remain firmly, steadfast and stable on sound economic principles.

      Here's what I mean:

      Walker's bold, overarching economic message, which helped him survive his recall election, is: Reform, Recover, and Restore Fiscal Sanity to the benefit/entitlement programs.

      Specifically, union members can no longer use outdated, thuggish, bullying tactics, such as strikes, to continue receiving health and retirement benefits, that are fully paid for by the taxpayers and/or former employer.

      By making these minor changes today, where everyone, including union members, "has skin in the game", Walker is preventing the stubborn, union block, from solidifying and cementing, the current dysfunctional system, in order to avert a future, fiscal disaster, to one that will be in more efficient, streamlined, and in great shape going forward.

      As far as I am concerned, Governor Scott Walker may not be the most popular leader,but he has successfully managed to stay ahead of the curve.

      He may not be able to articulate it, in perfectly worded speeches and interviews, but his actions speak louder than his words.

      He has great leadership and leverage skills, to steer Wisconsinites, towards a stable economic path that will be able to withstand future economic storms and crises.

      Maybe I am thinking too deeply and reading too much into Governor Walker's comment, but I could not express my opinion in short text messages or in tweets of 140 words or less!

      P.S. One of the key terms of the deal that was struck last week, between the NFL and the NFL League Association, was NOT a continuation of the traditional defined benefit plan, but its eventual phasing out by 2016, and replacing it with a 401(k) – defined contribution plan beginning in 2017, thereby bring future retiree compensation costs under control.

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