Monthly Archives: February 2007

From Bucharest with Love?

It has to say something about the global labor environment that Chinese workers are better off striking in Romania than they would be in China itself. Can you imagine what would happen to the same workers in China itself? Thousands there have been arrested, harassed and jailed for leading a massive protest over the last few years again unemployment and inequality. One can only imagine what would happen if Romanian workers working in China tried to strike.

Labor’s 3 million dollar man

Generally, I detest the idea that so-called “big labor” is a bloated overpaid bureaucracy. Usually those attacks come from places like the Wall Street Journal’s opinion page. But just what have the football players been getting that is worth paying their union head $3 million a year?? Especially in light of the tragic plight of many retired players decribed here by the New York Times and last week by Yahoo Sports. Could finding a way to cover health insurance and a minimal pension for these players be so difficult for today’s union leadership to accomplish? Last year, Congress held hearings into the way the Players Union operates and that is likely to continue this year. Every union has an obligation to help those who worked so hard to establish what current members enjoy. The Mine Workers did so when black lung struck an older generation and the Auto Workers are attempting to do the same with retiree benefits (though with only moderate success). Where the pay gap between one generation and the next is so large, today’s generation has a responsibility to “do the right thing.”

Ex-Players Say Increase in Pensions Is Needed – New York Times

A steep price to pay – the NFL’s lessons for Hollywood

Ever wonder what it would be like to predict the future? Sometimes a hard look at the past is the best way to predict the future.

Workers in Hollywood – actors, writers, directors, and craft workers – have just such an opportunity today. Down one road is that laid out by Nick Counter in his propaganda campaign over the last couple of years. Every time he says the same thing about the internet and digital delivery: “Who knows?” and since we don’t know, we can’t pay. Down the second road, those in Hollywood who develop and create the content that then is distributed globally share equally and fairly in the revenues generated by this new business model.

How can we know that there are two possible roads? Because in many ways the tragic plight of today’s aging NFL stars – described so well in this piece from Yahoo Sports – indicates what happens when a weak union is unable (and apparently still unwilling) to counter the “Who knows?” argument from employers. In the 1960s the early Super Bowls could barely fill up the LA Coliseum! Now the Super Bowl makes the league, broadcasters and advertisers hundreds of millions (an estimated 379 million this year). But that is no consolation to the players of the 60s and 70s who were unable to get their fare share of the value they helped create.

A steep price to pay – NFL – Yahoo! Sports