Saturday, September 29, 2012

Football More Important that Policing and Teaching?

We in the USA have had a fascinating couple of weeks.  For the last 2 years, elected officials across the board in cities, states and at the federal level have been saying how unions are the scourge of life.  They demand living wages for their members and for employers to meet previously agreed to retirement plans.
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Because we are in a recession - and neither unions nor management are interested in temporary give-backs (say a two or three year time-out until the economy turns around) - they publicly complain.  And the more money backed voices have convinced many people that unions are cushy and don't really do anything.
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THE blown call that cost the game.
Enter the (American) Football Umpires.
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The refs are unionized, with a pension.  The proposed new contracts increased expenses ($3 Million/yr) versus the owners income (upwards of $9.3 Billion/yr) is minuscule.  But the refs have a previously agreed to pension plan.
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And management decided that in the current environment (where everyone hates unions) they could break a union which still has a pension and replace them with cheaper officials and no pension.
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So management locked out the refs and refused to negotiate.  Thy owners then told the public how greedy the unions were, while making billions.
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But something funny happened on the way to the forum; the non-union refs officiated a few games, and it was a joke.  The changed the outcome of the games, made obvious mistakes, and took much longer to deliver a less effective product.  America howled, particularly after 1 game where the Green Bay Packers were robbed of a win.**
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And so, after American's voices were heard, management quickly agreed to the unions demands - and football was returned and the kingdom breathed a sigh of relief.
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Which makes me wonder, does no one see the correlation that experienced and valued skilled service providers are a net benefit to everyone? ---  If we can obviously see the benefit of experience Referees - why do we not think the same about teachers who impart knowledge to children?  or police who protect the streets?  We don't look at the ref who makes one bad call one week and say "Well obviously they shouldn't have a union - he's an ass."  But we sometimes do cherry-pick bad teachers and say "Well they have a union so they don't have to work hard."
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In part, I blame the unions who lose credibility by not admitting that any teacher or cop or iron worker is ever wrong - like a teacher's union that seems out of touch and concerned about their jobs more than kids.  If they admitted that some teachers are lousy - and worked with management to fix them, it would be better for everyone.
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But management and the public should also admit that our children are as important as football.  And having experienced, trained teachers give our kids a chance to succeed, and usually unions work for just that cause.
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**In poetic justice (or tone deaf asshole-ishness) Scott Walker, the governor who passed a law prohibiting collective bargaining, runs the state (Wisconsin) where Green Bay is located.  He loudly demanded that the owners negotiate with the Officials Union after a blown call lead to the Packers loss. 

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