FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

March Madness: Brought to You by the Teamsters

by DAVID MACARAY

Nice to see the NLRB finally slap down the smug and dictatorial NCAA, and rule in favor of what are politely called “student-athletes.”  The NLRB has decided that scholarship players have the right to join or form a labor union.  Odd as that seems, Northwestern’s football players have made it clear that their beef wasn’t with the university, but with the NCAA, whose imperiousness and sanctimony is matched only by its hypocrisy.

The NLRB was persuaded that these players were, in fact, “employees” of the university, and as employees, were just as entitled to union representation as were the faculty, clerical workers and janitorial help.  Anyone still clinging to the belief that big-time college football is a pure and noble pursuit, one that transcends the scratch-and-claw ugliness of “commerce,” need only consider the University of Alabama.

The Crimson Tide football coach, Nick Saban, makes $7 million dollars a year.  Conversely, a University of Alabama literature professor makes what?  $100,000 a year?  We’re not so naive as to suggest that this is a “fair” comparison, that conflating football with the humanities curriculum makes sense.  Still, this is a university, is it not?  Football or no football, it’s still a place where one goes to be educated, is it not?  A place where 99% of the student body doesn’t participate in intercollegiate sports?

Not only is that wage discrepancy staggering, but when you make $7 million a year, we’re no longer talking about a college football coach, and we’re no longer talking about something as pedestrian as a bunch of “student-athletes” kicking around the old pigskin.  When you’re paid $7 million to run a football program—and when college football generates the billions of dollars in revenue it does—you’re no longer a coach.  You’re a CEO.

Which makes the NCAA’s stringent rules seem even more arbitrary and punitive.  With all this money being thrown around, with football coaches even at “minor” colleges making $500,000 a year, the NCAA still doesn’t allow scholarship athletes to receive a modest monthly stipend to pay for such practical things as laundry, cell phones, car maintenance, and walking-around money.

Even though these athletes are, undeniably, the most critical component in an enterprise that generates billions of dollars, the NCAA pretends that having their tuition paid for should be enough, and that asking for anything more than that makes them greedy bastards.  This NLRB ruling rectifies that by allowing athletes to engage in collective bargaining.  Does anyone doubt that if this were Nick Saban’s call, he would see to it that his players received a modest $200 a month in spending money?

Of course, this matter is far from settled.  Because it was a regional NLRB office that made the ruling, Northwestern University has already announced it will appeal the decision to the NLRB in Washington, D.C., and if the national NLRB fails to overturn it, they will almost certainly take it all the way to the Supreme Court.  They have no choice but to fight it.

This ruling (which applies only to private colleges and universities, and not public institutions) is simply too incendiary and potentially destabilizing not to fight.  It affects more than just Northwestern, and more than just football players.  It gives college basketball players the right to unionize as well.  Just think about that.  March Madness, brought to you by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters!  Is this a great country, or what?

David Macaray, an LA playwright and author (“It’s Never Been Easy:  Essays on Modern Labor,” 2nd edition), is a former union rep.  He can be reached at dmacaray@earthlink.net

David Macaray is a playwright and author. His newest book is “Nightshift: 270 Factory Stories.” He can be reached at dmacaray@gmail.com

More articles by:
May 24, 2016
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
The Financial Invasion of Greece
Jonathan Cook
Religious Zealots Ready for Takeover of Israeli Army
Ted Rall
Why I Am #NeverHillary
Mari Jo Buhle – Paul Buhle
Television Meets History
Robert Hunziker
Troika Heat-Seeking Missile Destroys Greece
Judy Gumbo
May Day Road Trip: 1968 – 2016
Colin Todhunter
Cheerleader for US Aggression, Pushing the World to the Nuclear Brink
Jeremy Brecher
This is What Insurgency Looks Like
Jonathan Latham
Unsafe at Any Dose: Chemical Safety Failures from DDT to Glyphosate to BPA
Binoy Kampmark
Suing Russia: Litigating over MH17
Dave Lindorff
Europe, the US and the Politics of Pissing and Being Pissed
Matt Peppe
Cashing In at the Race Track While Facing Charges of “Abusive” Lending Practices
Gilbert Mercier
If Bernie Sanders Is Real, He Will Run as an Independent
Peter Bohmer
A Year Later! The Struggle for Justice Continues!
Dave Welsh
Police Chief Fired in Victory for the Frisco 500
May 23, 2016
Conn Hallinan
European Union: a House Divided
Paul Buhle
Labor’s Sell-Out and the Sanders Campaign
Uri Avnery
Israeli Weimar: It Can Happen Here
John Stauber
Why Bernie was Busted From the Beginning
James Bovard
Obama’s Biggest Corruption Charade
Joseph Mangano – Janette D. Sherman
Indian Point Nuclear Plant: It Doesn’t Take a Meltdown to Harm Local Residents
Desiree Hellegers
“Energy Without Injury”: From Redwood Summer to Break Free via Occupy Wall Street
Lawrence Davidson
The Unraveling of Zionism?
Patrick Cockburn
Why Visa Waivers are Dangerous for Turks
Robert Koehler
Rethinking Criminal Justice
Lawrence Wittner
The Return of Democratic Socialism
Ha-Joon Chang
What Britain Forgot: Making Things Matters
John V. Walsh
Only Donald Trump Raises Five “Fundamental and Urgent” Foreign Policy Questions: Stephen F. Cohen Bemoans MSM’s Dismissal of Trump’s Queries
Andrew Stewart
The Occupation of the American Mind: a Film That Palestinians Deserve
Nyla Ali Khan
The Vulnerable Repositories of Honor in Kashmir
Weekend Edition
May 20, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Rob Urie
Hillary Clinton and Political Violence
Andrew Levine
Why Not Hillary?
Paul Street
Hillary Clinton’s Neocon Resumé
Chris Floyd
Twilight of the Grifter: Bill Clinton’s Fading Powers
Eric Mann
How We Got the Tanks and M-16s Out of LA Schools
Jason Hirthler
The West’s Needless Aggression
Dan Arel
Why Hillary Clinton’s Camp Should Be Scared
Robert Hunziker
Fukushima Flunks Decontamination
David Rosen
The Privatization of the Public Sphere
Margaret Kimberley
Obama’s Civil Rights Hypocrisy
Chris Gilbert
Corruption in Latin American Governments
Pete Dolack
We Can Dream, or We Can Organize
Dan Kovalik
Colombia: the Displaced & Invisible Nation
Jeffrey St. Clair
Fat Man Earrings: a Nuclear Parable
Medea Benjamin
Israel and Saudi Arabia: Strange Bedfellows in the New Middle East
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail