A Labor Union Dispute That Hits Too Close to Home

The national discourse has been consumed with battles between unions and employers. The battle lines have been drawn. Passions are running high on both sides of the divide and neither side is showing any signs of backing down.

But there is one labor dispute that isn’t making its way to the national headlines with the degree of fervor it deserves. It’s a dispute that – for many of us – has dire, unspeakable consequences of the highest order.

The 2011 NFL season may be canceled.

Let the public service unions dispute shut down schools or even shut down entire state and local governments. Let public service employees go on strike if they want and throw the state into chaos. Fire every damm one of ‘em if necessary to break their power and bring the budgets back into balance.

But don’t mess with my football.

In 2010, the NFL brought in $9 billion in revenues. The owners take $1 billion of that off the top and split the balance with the players – 60% to players and 40% to the owners.  The owners are just as guilty as the Wisconsin politicians for giving away too much to their employees. Recognizing the error of their ways, the owners now want $2 billion off the top and split the rest with players. The players say “no” – and a lockout looms.

From my early youth through much of my adult life, I was an absolute MLB fanatic. I ate, slept, and drank baseball. I couldn’t get enough of it. In my early years, I was a <duck> Yankee fan and the Mick was my hero. My dad would let me skip school for day games when the Yanks came to KC to play the A’s.  Having lived near St. Louis in my younger years, I saw many of the true legends of baseball: Stan “The Man”, Willie, Clemente, and Hammerin’ Hank, to name a few.

All of that changed when a player’s dispute canceled the 1994 World Series and delayed the start of the ‘95 season. I’d had it. No more Major League Baseball for me. The KC Royals’ beautiful Kaufman Stadium is seven miles from my home on I-70 sitting next to the Chiefs’ mammoth Arrowhead. But I haven’t been there since 1994 and have vowed to never go back again. Ever.

I don’t want this year’s NFL season to be canceled. But I don’t want the owners to cave. Given the shifting mood of the public sentiment against unions, the climate may be ripe for chiseling away at the power players’ unions wield over the owners.

Let’s hope the players are smart enough to see that.