Collective Bargaining


This nonsense has been hanging over our heads, faithful NHL fans with an eye for labor unrest would agree, for probably close to 2 years, and what should be closer to 8, since the last time the league pulled this powerplay, and proudly broke the will and the leadership of the NHLPA.  There would have to be a rumble in the next CBA, and so here we are.  NHL Lockout 2012, in much the same fashion as they brought us NHL Lockout 2004 and NHL Lockout 1994.  And by many of the same offensive offenders.  Jeremy Jacobs, Ed Snider, Lou Lamoriello, and of course, the worst commissioner in professional sports, by a mile, the front man and lead goon in a record 3rd lockout, Gary Bettman.

We don’t care for the argument that he is only doing what he is told.  That’s not true.  The owners are doing what Bettman tells them to do, and not vice versa.  Bettman has tightened up the NHL bylaws so that the power of the commissioner is nearly indomitable, as the obviously very astute Ken Dryden reminds us in the recent article excerpted below:

In NHL governors’ meetings, Bettman would point this out, at first forcefully, over time as if possessed.  He presented elaborate charts: Here’s what the league and individual teams take in, here’s what we spend. It makes no sense. Here’s what winning teams spend, here’s what losing teams spend. There’s no correlation between spending and performance (there was, in fact, some correlation). It makes no sense.

He would run a roll call of teams, and one by one take team owners, with all their private business splashed up on a big screen for everyone to see, to the principal’s office. Here’s what you’re doing – you idiot – here are the results you’re getting – you moron – and, always prefaced by the anti-trust defeating phrase, “Of course, you have the right, as everyone does, to make any decision you want” – what are you going to do in the future – you total fool.

To get out of the principal’s office, team owners learned to respond as if at an AA meeting.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/sports/hockey/league-and-players-are-fighting-in-an-age-of-disagreement/article4543964/

And:

He had to get their support to change the NHL bylaws so that a higher percentage of team owners were required to override any proposed agreement with the NHLPA he brought to them. Then he’d need the support of only a few friendly owners, and the negotiations were his. He got the bylaws changed.

This is part of the reason he gets to so cockily tout his position in the negotiations, like saying “we simply feel we are paying the players too much money.”  Obviously, as is evidenced by the spate of huge contracts being offered by these owners, of their own free will mind you, they do not feel they are paying the players too much.  A small market team, for God sakes, offered the richest contract in history not once but twice in the same day, when Minnesota signed Suter and Parise.  BTW, we hate Parise, obviously, but could not argue at all when asked for comment on the labor situation, and he said “You know Bettman loves his lockouts.”

It’s another part of the reason, for the sport of it.  And what kind of guy gets off on depriving workers of their livelihoods?  Make no mistake about this, there are workers that are going to be deprived of their jobs.  All arena workers, and many ancillary workers, players aside.  This is not a good guy.  If you listen to his press conferences and interviews, do you not get the distinct impression you are hearing from a sheisty lawyer telling multiple lies a minute.  Forget that he invoked the price of jet fuel and hand massages when asked about inflation affecting the owners.  It’s not that.  It’s that he is a mean and vindictive labor leader and therefore, needs to be vigorously protected from by the union.  It’s also that he hasn’t come up as extremely intelligent when dealing with labor issues, franchise issues, potential owners, and just about all the really relevant issues affecting the league.

We haven’t thought much of him from the get go.  But apparently NHL owners are either none too hard to please or even less bright than Bettman himself.  And they don’t have too much more of a heart than Bettman either, sanctioning these lockouts, which almost feel like a rite of passage at this point.  Here is some very pointed criticism of Bettman from another good article on the looming lockout and specifically, on Bettman’s performance and on the league, from author and economist Andrew Zimbalist:

“It means it is poorly managed,” said our frank, 64-year-old professor of economics at Smith College in Massachusetts, and author of 20 books, including May The Best Team Win: Baseball Economics and Public Policy.

“Mr. Bettman, although he has some qualities that are admirable, has made a lot of bad decisions,” Zimbalist said this week, before Thursday’s confirmation that we are heading towards Bettman’s third lockout since becoming the commissioner of the National Hockey League in 1993. “He has not promoted effective management at the team level, and he is unwilling to admit his mistakes and walk away from them.”

http://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/nhl-lockout/2012/09/13/nhl_lockout_cba_betmann_bad_for_business/

Zimbalist calls the game’s popularity in the USA as on a “thin string.”  He criticizes Bettman for threatening the stability and popularity of the game in the US, and for insisting on a bad policy of expansion in the American southeast where he was in essence, forcing the game on little interested markets.  Yet he is the guy asking for a 15% reduction in salaries, a reduction that actually equates to a 17.3% reduction in salary when the league’s new definition of hockey related revenue is applied.

The owners are destined to fight, obviously at Bettman’s behest, because they feel that the players, who agreed to rollbacks and other severe concessions last time, could be broken again, should they apply a little financial pressure in the form of lost earnings.  The players need to fight because they got beat so badly last time.  They need to resurrect the reputation of the union, which once had a fine reputation as smart and tough, is now considered a laughingstock.

Things like that are gonna have a funny way of changing the perception with a guy like Donald Fehr running things for the players.  The players needed a good guy, and perhaps, they got the best guy there ever was in sports labor relations.  Is Fehr an evil lawyer himself?  A bit.  But he’s brilliant.  He’s a guy you know has thought through every angle.  So brilliant, and hammer him for this if you like, but he was able to keep accountable steroid testing out of baseball for years and years after the steroid problem had become a scandal and a black mark on the game.

For Fehr, that’s an opportunity to keep big stats in the game, which keep leading to record contracts.  As it is his job, first and foremost to fight for the union, and the big contracts are phenomenal for the union.  We can’t see how Bettman feels all that comfortable in this confrontation.  Zimbalist also feels that by offering the players a 15% reduction, that Bettman was negotiating from an “unreasonable position”, which smells like, at the very least, bad faith to us.

We think Fehr knows a lot of tricks that Bettman hasn’t seen yet.  We know he’s gone to school, to Harvard, essentially, on the NHL and it’s embarrassing practices.  And Fehr and the players both understand the necessity of re-making the union’s reputation.  That’s not the kind of thing that a guy like Fehr undertakes lightly.  He refused to open negotiations early, knowing full well of the league’s intend to lockout.  Fehr is not exactly shying away from this course of action.  He’s ready to fight, and he’s a guy who really has never lost a fight like this, in a league of his own.

We think the players are doing a good job in the press, as the owners unreasonable position seems ironclad.  The players winning press is going to help the players ultimately get a nice deal.  Once the fans and media become totally entrenched in their position as pro player, Bettman is going to drop the nonsense and talk turkey.  We see Fehr bamboozling Bettman at that time, in ways that Bettman won’t be able to figure out for a few good years of head scratching, just like every CBA, pretty much, that Bettman has gotten for his greedy, malicious owners.

Crack (https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com)

We follow labor relations very closely.  From where we sit, the side doing the most grandstanding is the side on weaker ground.  Enter Roger Goodell (above) and his downright insulting letters to fans in recent weeks, fans who he is obviously desperate to curry favor with.  Some media types have downplayed the NFL’s lack of a collective bargaining agreement, and want to tell you that no fan really cares about this mess until and unless games are lost in the 2011 season.  If that’s the case, then the fans are flat out stupid.  Occum’s Razor here: the players are the game, and the commisioner, despite being careful to always couch his deception in the the lie that he wants what is best for the players, is an employee of the owners.  It’s that simple.  The owners pay his salary, and he is their representative.  You could poll every one of the 1,500 or so players and they could all give the commish a gushing review.  Those reviews wouldn’t make one bit of difference to the man’s job security.  The only thing that matters is what the owners think of him, and the only thing the owners care about is taking money and benefits from the players.

In letter one, fired off by Goodell on January 3rd, Goodell suggested that the status quo was absolutely unacceptable and that the game would not be able to function successfully under the current labor conditions.  This is the richest sport in the world, making well more than any other sport in the world, coming off its most successful season.  Ever.  Goodell says he needs to do this, to head toward a lockout, to improve the future of the game for “the players and the fans.”

Really?  This is the league that has given us personal seat licenses.  They care about the fans so much that they devised the brilliant idea of charging people thousands of dollars for the right to purchase tickets for hundreds of dollars more.  We aren’t talking about a few thousand, either.  We are talking upwards of between $10,000-20,000 per seat.  You want four season tickets to the Jets or Giants, you are probably paying $80,000 before you even discuss the price of a game ticket. 

Having bled the fans dry and unable to squeeze any more from the tapped out masses, the owners, led by this disgusting liar, having now turned their attention to squeezing the players, who literally, are the game.  You’ve got guys, to a man, putting their bodies on the line, hundreds of times per week, and their brains, as we are now seeing with people like Mike Webster, Dave Duerson, Chris Henry, and Andre Waters.  Risking constant physical injury in a bloodsport should be lucrative work, but don’t think it’s good work if you can get it.  The life span of an average male these days is around 80 years old.  The life span of an NFL player is somewhere in the early 50’s.  Now that it is conclusive that guys are also putting their brains on the line, one would think the compensation and benefits should be increased and not decreased.  CTE–Chronic Traumatic Encephalitis–a neurological disease that ruins lives and leads to depression, suicide, drug abuse, alcoholism, and lack ofo impulse control, is a disease incurred from taking hits.  Isn’t that football, in a nutshell?

Dr. Bennett Omalu, a fantastic neurological physician who is out front with CTE research, is a guy the NFL paints a witch doctor.  His findings have been met by Goodell’s PR machine with an undignified, base smear campaign.  Omalu, as time goes by, is armed with more and more scientific data, and soon more, as he analyzes Dave Duerson’s brain–an excellent player and a brilliant man.  Last month Duerson killed himself by self inflicted shotgun blast to the chest, so that his brain could be analyzed fully intact for CTE.  And the “witch doctor” is addressing the House of Representatives on the dangers of the high intensity contact nature of football, at all levels.

These are nightmares for the players obviously, from a health standpoint, but from an economic one, for the league.  And what happened today, in the form of the NFLPA decertifying, is also a nightmare.  Small teams can not compete financially with big market teams.  The league, which is a collective, and built its greatness by sharing revenue, is now one where every owner is out for himself.  And really, it’s not the Cowboys or the Giants fault that Green Bay and Jacksonville are not able to compete economically.  Dallas and NY are real cities.  Football put Green Bay on the map in the first place.  It is not a real city.  When the Giants win the Superbowl, they have a parade 2 million strong.  When Green Bay wins, they can hardly muster 50,000 people.  How is that the players’ fault?

Jacksonville?  It’s not even a college town.  It’s a high school town.  They do not deserve pro football.  But their owner, and the moron from Carolina–a former player no less–is in these bargaining sessions screaming their heads off at the union. 

Dear NFL Fan,

When I wrote to you last on behalf of the NFL, we promised you that we would work tirelessly to find a collectively bargained solution to our differences with the players’ union. Subsequent to that letter to you, we agreed that the fastest way to a fair agreement was for everyone to work together through a mediation process. For the last three weeks I have personally attended every session of mediation, which is a process our clubs sincerely believe in.

Unfortunately, I have to tell you that earlier today the players’ union walked away from mediation and collective bargaining and has initiated litigation against the clubs. In an effort to get a fair agreement now, our clubs offered a deal today that was, among other things, designed to have no adverse financial impact on veteran players in the early years, and would have met the players’ financial demands in the latter years of the agreement.

The proposal we made included an offer to narrow the player compensation gap that existed in the negotiations by splitting the difference; guarantee a reallocation of savings from first-round rookies to veterans and retirees without negatively affecting compensation for rounds 2-7; no compensation reduction for veterans; implement new year-round health and safety rules; retain the current 16-4 season format for at least two years with any subsequent changes subject to the approval of the league and union; and establish a new legacy fund for retired players ($82 million contributed by the owners over the next two years).

It was a deal that offered compromise, and would have ensured the well-being of our players and guaranteed the long-term future for the fans of the great game we all love so much. It was a deal where everyone would prosper.

We remain committed to collective bargaining and the federal mediation process until an agreement is reached, and call on the union to return to negotiations immediately. NFL players, clubs, and fans want an agreement. The only place it can be reached is at the bargaining table.

While we are disappointed with the union’s actions, we remain steadfastly committed to reaching an agreement that serves the best interest of NFL players, clubs and fans, and thank you for your continued support of our League. First and foremost it is your passion for the game that drives us all, and we will not lose sight of this as we continue to work for a deal that works for everyone.

Yours,
Roger Goodell

A deal that works for everyone?  Franchise worth for even the smallest market teams is approaching one billion dollars.  What owner has paid a billion for their team?  What guy can’t walk away now, sell, and won’t have more money than God?  Just because you are a greedy prick who wants to make more money, doesn’t mean a deal isn’t working for you.  In reality, everyone wants more money, everywhere.  And they aren’t going to get it.  In a capitalist system, you are worth what your talent says you’re worth, and once again, it’s the players that have the talent, that get us to buy PSL’s and the NFL Ticket and who get us to turn on the games religiously.

I have news for Goodell.  A room where distinguished shark labor lawyers are being screamed on by hicks like Jerry Richardson may not be the best place for all parties to come to an agreement.  DeMaurice Smith, the NFLPA head, and the best executive director they’ve ever had, is going about his business properly.  Before he can make a deal, which he is willing to make, and one on which he is willing to take 8.5% less of the gross–very fairly too we might add, but mindful that 8.5% less of a much higher gross will actually be an increase in compensation–is willing to do this if he gets financial transparency from the league.  Laymen’s terms?  He needs to see the books.  Goodell wants him to give back billions of dollars and expects him to do so while not knowing the true financial state of the game.

What good negotiator would accept that?  Goodell is going to tell us that the league is working so hard here, that they have conceded to unprecedented givebacks, like the $82M for retired players.  How about just giving the players’ union what they need to make a deal, which is the financial information they have requested?  Here’s why they won’t do it: because he is an employee of the owners, and he is protecting his employers, because giving up this information would no doubt lead to a much worse deal for the teams.

Expert labor lawyers such as the ones employed by the players are in the driver’s seat right now.  The lockout, which just became official, means decertification, which means the players can now sue the clubs, because they are not represented by the union officially any longer, and the NFL is subject to lose it’s antitrust exemption.  U.S. District Judge David Doty, whose jurisdiction all this will fall under, is a labor friendly judge who has served the NFL owners several unpleasantries in the past.  And the national sentiment has got to be for the players here.  They want to play.  The want to work.  They are locked out.  The owners have shut down the game because they want more, not the players.

How could Goodell tell us this is what’s good for everyone when he and his crew of owners have shut down the game, and will be turning away injured players looking to get into team facilities to rehab on Monday and terminating their health benefits?  Goodell, who wants to tell us about the Michael Vick make good story, like he didn’t lie to police about a shooting just last August?  Goodell, who destroys evidence, like in Spygate, and then wants us take him at his word about what he saw on those tapes.  With financial transparency, it’s the same thing from this liar.

That salutation, “Yours”?  No way.  This guy is not our’s by any stretch.  He’s their’s.

Crack (https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com, www.crackbillionair.com