Victory of the football refs tells a tale of two lessons

referee

The victory of the locked-out referees and millions of football fans over the greed of the team owners means much more than just a football season getting back on track. There are two big lessons to be learned.

The first is that no one is capable of doing a better job than men and women who have the training that comes with union membership and who have the voice on the job that union membership provides. Combine this with public support, and the possibility of defeating corporate greed increases enormously.

Milions watched Monday night when, in Seattle, a last-second wrong call cost the Green Bay packers a win over the Seattle Seahawks. It was a call made by an inexperienced replacement worker put there by a greedy owner determined to tear up contracts and pile up profits.

The second lesson we must learn is a bit more difficult because it requires a continued struggle to get the word out that workers all over America, like those at American Crystal Sugar, have long endured similar lock outs. Those at American Crystal have been locked out for more than a year, also by greedy corporate bosses determined to roll back wages and benefits, and willing to endanger both workers and the public by replacing the trained union workers with unskilled lower-paid substitutes.

Because the lockout victims there, and in other places across the country, have no national stage, in no way means that their struggle is any less important.

Despite what misguided politicians and corporate bosses would have us believe, a striking Chicago teacher, a striking bulldozer builder, or a locked-out sugar worker is not an easily replaced commodity.

"The big difference is that 100 million people can watch the football game so the mistakes are right there to see," a leader of the American Crystal strike who has been locked out of his job in East Grand Forks, Minn. for 14 months told us. "The mistakes that the scabs are making in the factories are behind closed doors."

He tells tales of how replacement workers are making dangerous mistakes with beet slicers and screwing up the dry pulp techniques that union workers had learned only after intensive training. Explosions, fires, danger to workers, and potential harm to consumers can and do result from corporate use of lockouts to maximize profits.

Let us all celebrate the victory of the refs, the players, and the football fans. But let us also resolve to double down on our support for the many among us who are victims of lockouts - one of the ugliest tactics in the arsenal of the corporate greed machine

Photo: Ed YourdonEd Yourdon // CC 2.0

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  • Ken-----NO, NO & no!! Union training is harmly a "stretch!"

    While certainly it is true that, especially, but not exclusive, Republican/corporate attacks on worker rights all across the nation have weakened org'd labor, union apprentice/training programs are still a major factor in training young workers to be able to enter the trades and other skilled areas of our economy. These programs can be greatly strenthened if needed Green energy programs can be passed by congress. These types of programs of a strong source of stability & economic strength in Germany, France, Italy and a number of other nations.

    The USW has set, as we did in Lorain, Ohio, community training centers. In Lorain it is named the Lynn Williams Training center. In this one, for example, org'd labor partners with the county's Community College in developing apprentice training programs for workers wanting to enter the construction trades. In Cleveland, Toledo and many other cities, these types of programs are org'd thru the United Labor Agencies.

    Other programs at that facility included computer training, auto repair, small machine repair, even writing and resume writng for USW members (thru the union's curreer program, as well as the general public, again thru their local union's coordination. Large numbers of (not only young) workers were retrained and obtained new jobs thru this training program.

    In Cincinnati, again, as well as a number of other cities, org'd labor has partnered with mainly African American community forces to set up Apprentice training programs, designed to train inner-city youth for jobs to enter the trades. They have in numeroous cases been aimed at partnering with local govt, to reinovate older homes that can be saved and resold at low prices to community residents.

    Org'd labor is certainly more than welling to expand these, and a number of other positive programs, that could greatly help in training youth for the new jobs our economy so badly needs, but first the stonewalling practices of ultra-right Republicans (nearly ALL of them) & some Blue-Dog conservative Democrats must be defeated. It will take a fight, of course, but labor IS & has been a major factor in training workers for new jobs, the trades, etc., and can become much more so. These are programs that could greatly help our recovery, the strength of our overall economy, as well as helping pull millions out of poverty.

    Posted by bruce bostick, 10/10/2012 9:53am (2 years ago)

  • Re:

    "..the training that comes with union membership"

    Exactly what "training" would that be? Since when have unions in this country been a significant factor in training the workforce?

    I think the author is s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g things a bit with that one.

    Posted by KenM, 09/28/2012 6:16am (2 years ago)

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