Dropping the Ball on Unions
Rich Tucker /
The NFL’s replacement referees have missed a number of calls in recent weeks. But they’d be correct if they decided to flag Washington Post writer Brad Plumer for unsportsmanlike conduct.
He recently committed the sin of bringing politics to the newspaper’s sports section. Having done that, Plumer deserves an additional 15 yards for then getting the politics wrong.
Plumer tweaked Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R) for supposedly flip-flopping on organized labor. “Walker made national headlines last year when he pushed to strip Wisconsin’s government employees of their collective bargaining rights,” Plumer writes. “In many ways, however, the referee feud is fairly representative of modern labor battles playing out in Wisconsin and elsewhere.”
Governor Walker was dealing with government service unions, whose members are employed by his state government. A state makes no profits, yet no matter how badly mismanaged it is, it cannot go out of business. State employees (who already enjoy civil service protection that doesn’t exist in the private sector) are simply seeking a larger share of public (taxpayer) funding.
That’s why liberals from President Franklin Roosevelt in 1937 (“a strike of public employees manifests nothing less than an intent on their part to prevent or obstruct the operations of Government until their demands are satisfied”) to then-president of the AFL-CIO George Meany in 1955 (“It is impossible to bargain collectively with the government”) opposed work stoppages by government unions.
The NFL field officials, on the other hand, are dealing with a private employer. Their league could go out of business if people lose interest in the game. That gives each side an incentive to compromise.
The real NFL officials are apparently going to be back on the field tonight. As they get back to work, hopefully The Washington Post will go back to treating this work stoppage as the sports story that it is—instead of misrepresenting it while injecting politics into the sports pages.