Judge Susan Nelson ruled Monday, "Employees have the right not to be a union as much as they have the right to organize as a union." Thus, the NFL Players Association decertification was deemed legal, the NFL lockout was deemed not-so-legal, and everyone was sent back to work. Hopefully, the Arizona Cardinals can start their Max Hall training program anew so he can make a smooth transition from quarterback to the sales department.
This must be excellent news for corporate America. Just six weeks ago, we all came to the inevitable conclusion that collective bargaining by labor is killing America. Nurses and teachers in Wisconsin, rightfully identified as the destructive force in American business for their collective bargaining abilities and beady little eyes, were sent back to work without most of those rights and Wisconsin's ship was immediately righted.
Now a group of professionals begs the court for the right not to organize. That group should be lauded for not forcing collectively bargained rights like heavy health care responsibilities down the throats of ticket-buying Americans, right?
Yet when Judge Nelson agrees with them, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (on behalf of the owners) explodes in op-ed form in the Wall Street Journal: "By blessing this negotiating tactic, the decision may endanger one of the most popular and successful sports leagues in history."
My degree isn't in economic theory or wordsmithery, so I need corporate America to just slow down a minute and use smaller words. Collective bargaining is wretched and vile except when it's the only thing protecting professional football from economic collapse? I may need a View-Master reel or two as part of that explanation, Rog.
In the op-ed piece, Goodell describes the horrors attendant with granting the union the right not to be a union anymore:
Any league-wide rule relating to terms of player employment would be subject to antitrust challenge in courts throughout the country. Any player could sue—on his own behalf or representing a class—to challenge any league rule that he believes unreasonably restricts the "market" for his services.
(Air quotes on "market", Commissioner? Are you suggesting professional football players really don't have any marketable skills and, perhaps, they should just be happy ol' Rog and his 32 generous friends are there to support them?)
Goodell then rattles off the laundry list of terror: no draft, no minimum team payroll, no minimum player salary, no standard worker's compensation, no standard benefits, no free agency limits, no standard drug testing, etc. You know, like in the real world where only the government protects those rights. Who knew so many NFL owners were left-leaning socialist no-good-niks?
But wait: In the same Wall Street Journal last year, the paper determined LeBron James would have been worth up to $43 million per year in salary in free agency if he didn't have to follow NBA rules about maximum salaries. Can you imagine what Tom Brady would have been worth a few years ago, considering the much higher stakes in the NFL?
Perhaps it's not those minimums that Goodell and Friends are worried about? Maybe being forced to bid against each other every year and try to win to keep fans involved instead of taking the TV money and fielding the minimum team or be at risk of losing money or failing completely. You know, like in the real world. Cincinnati Bengals owner Mike Brown must fill his adult diaper just imagining that day.
According to Goodell, we can't let that happen, though, as it will upset Competitive Balance:
Is this the NFL that fans want? A league where carefully constructed rules proven to generate competitive balance—close and exciting games every Sunday and close and exciting divisional and championship contests—are cast aside? Do the players and their lawyers have so little regard for the fans that they think this really serves their interests?
And now I'm not confused anymore. It's not that collective bargaining is evil; the United States lacks competitive balance. Each state should share its revenues equally with the others, no matter size of fan base (as represented in population) so every state can work on solid footing to compete for state employees. It's not fair that Wisconsin has to compete with Texas, New York, and California for skilled labor and they get stuck with those lousy teachers and nurses that can't bring it every Sunday. And Monday-Saturday as well.
Well-played, Commissioner. Now get those players back on the field where they belong, grateful to have such thoughtful owners. Otherwise, please consider replacement players. If need be, I have the contact information for a few thousand public sector employees from Madison who will probably be available this fall.