Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Billionaires' war on workers, labor and unions

The NHL season is slowly melting away due to a management lockout . Yet again, owners have unilaterally decided to cease play until they get what they want (an even bigger portion of the pie). 

Many avid sports fans may not have noticed or cared about missing hockey games, but still the lingering question remains: Is it a mere coincidence that all four major sports -- plus the NFL refs -- were locked out by billionaire owners crying poverty? 

Currently the sports world is suffering its fourth lockout in the past fourteen months. On four occasions since August 2011, pro sports owners have locked their publicly subsidized stadium doors, sent stadium workers home and stopped play as usual. This is not coincidence or happenstance. It’s a coordinated management offensive that has reverberations far beyond the playing field. Let’s look at the facts.
Last fall it was NFL and NBA players locked out of their jobs. This off-season, we first had the NFL referees, who make a pittance relative to the league’s revenue, watching scab refs stumble for three weeks. Now we have the ongoing lockout of National Hockey League players. NHL owners are coming off a year in which they made a record $3.3 billion in revenue. League owners have responded to this success by locking out the players, demanding massive concessions, canceling eighty-two games and squandering reservoirs of good will among fans.
I’m sure this must seem like a wild coincidence: four lockouts in fourteen months, affecting three of the four major professional sports leagues of this country. What are the odds? Actually, they’re very good. This is not merely a case of four sets of labor negotiations that have tragically broken down. This is a conscious, industry-wide strategy. A law firm called Proskauer Rose is now representing management in all four major men’s sports leagues, the first time in history one firm has been hired to play such a unified role. In practice, this has meant that in four sets of negotiations with four very different economic issues at play, we get the same results: lockouts and a stack of union complaints with the National Labor Relations Board. It’s been great for owners and awful for players, fans, stadium workers and tax payers.
Proskauer Rose partner Howard Ganz represents the NBA and Major League Baseball, and fellow-partner Bob Batterman has led negotiations for the NFL and the NHL. As Sports Business Daily reported,“Batterman and Ganz provide advice on strategy, as well as on issues that can emerge during talks, such as the legality of using replacement players.” source
And unless your head is buried in the sand -- or your TV viewing is restricted to the Real House Wives of (Pick any state), Basketball Wives or Jersey Shore -- you probably are aware that the governor of Michigan (with the Tea Party wackos) has gone straight up gansta on organized labor.

Supporters claim that Michigan's new right-to-work is designed to give options and choices to workers, but quite the contrary, the true intent is to cripple labor unions, limit collective bargaining and to fed even more profit to corporate barons.

This anti-labor legislation, rammed through the State General Assembly during a lame-duck session, was financed by the notorious billionaire Koch brothers and their Tea Party surrogates. The Tea Party/Koch brothers bullied Gov. Rick Snyder into supporting the bill even though he was against it before he was for it:

Taken up in a lame-duck legislative session, the prospects for the bill’s passage caught everybody off-guard, thanks to a sudden change of heart by Snyder who had, throughout his term, expressed opposition to any law that, like the one he just signed, would allow workers in union shops -- such as those employed by the big-three automakers whose plants account for more than 136,000 Michigan jobs -- to opt out of paying dues to the unions that represent them.
But Snyder faces re-election in 2014, which means his campaign begins now, with this opening volley. Had the legislature passed the law, drafted by the American Legislative Exchange Council (the organization funded by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch that drafted Wisconsin’s anti-union law), and Snyder failed to sign it, he might have faced fierce opposition from Americans for Prosperity, the Koch-funded astroturf group that was also instrumental in the passage of the Wisconsin law. Even worse (for him), Snyder might have faced a primary challenge. source
What's an average Joe/Jane to do? 
First, we can not sleep on these Koch brothers and their Stepin Fetchit soldiers. In other words, even after the 2012 GOP/Tea Party smackdown, we must remain vigilant against the between election year power grabs of Tea Party Inc. One example of monitoring the nefarious activities of Tea Party like organization is through SourceWatch:
SourceWatch is published by The Center for Media and Democracy. In addition to SourceWatch, we report through and, a new initiative dedicated to exposing how corporations, politicians, and others are writing "model" bills behind closed doors to rewrite people's rights.  source
Last, continued grassroot lobbying of local, statewide and federal government bodies is a must. Just casting a ballot in a presidential general election -- especially with seven hour long lines in some polling stations -- is a great start, but it is the bare minimum...
"A people get the government they deserve" 

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