Politicians should stay out of labor fight, for now

For months, the NFLPA has been trying to lay the foundation for a political assault on the owners as leverage against a looming lockout.  For months, the strategy largely has failed.

Recently, the strategy has gained some traction.

Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.) has argued in a op-ed published by the Washington Post that the NFL should provide financial information to the players.

“What I’d like to see from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the owners is a simple display of good faith: Show the union your books,” Rockefeller writes.  “Don’t keep secrets.  If there are financial pressures that keep you from agreeing to the revenue-sharing plan proposed by the players, let’s see the proof.

“Ask a neutral third party to review your financial data, redact anything sensitive and prepare an unbiased bottom-line assessment of the league’s finances.”

We agree with the suggested approach.  Indeed, we made a similar recommendation of hiring an independent firm to review the books and to prepare a five-year look at profit margins for each team, with the information provided only to a small group of folks who would use that data to come up with a fair revenue split.

Of course, this tactic doesn’t guarantee that the union won’t express skepticism regarding the numbers, or that the NFLPA won’t scoff at reduced profits as profits nonetheless, without regard to concepts like return on investment.   Still, there has to be a way to solve this apparent impasse.  Even though the league has argued that opening the books did not prevent past work stoppages in pro sports, the reality is that the owners currently are saying, essentially, “We’re not making enough money.  We’d like to make more.  Our current profits are irrelevant.  We simply want more.  Please trust us when we say it’s justified.”  The players can’t be expected to do a new deal by taking such a leap of faith.

All that said, and in my capacity as one of Senator Rockefeller’s constituents, I ask that he consider letting the process play itself out.  Mediation will continue Tuesday, and the parties should be given the ability to work out their differences without political pressure.

If/when the NFL imposes a lockout, then all bets are off.  We agree with Senator Rockefeller’s assessment that “Congress, acting in the public interest, has to keep the NFL on track because of the great benefits given to the league by federal law and taxpayer funds and because of its impact on the nation’s economy.”  But none of that becomes relevant until the league shuts down.

For now, the time has yet to come for Congress to get involved.

30 responses to “Politicians should stay out of labor fight, for now

  1. They should open their books.
    The owners are trying to convince people they’re in financial trouble, implying losses. But if you pay attention you’ll see they’re using phrases like “falling revenues”.
    EX: The Packers, being publicly held DO open their books. During the season before last, the team posted an operating profit of $9.8 million in the fiscal year that ended March 31, 2010, down from $20.1 million the previous year.

    Sure, that’s “falling revenues” alright, but this does not equate to a LOSS. They just didn’t make as much profit as last year.

    Corporations have been doing this for years.
    If they “projected” a $500 million profit one year and only made $300 million, they don’t call it a $300 million profit, they instead call it a $200 million loss. That sounds so much more impressive when they go begging for a federal bailout.

  2. chapnastier says: Feb 28, 2011 9:13 AM

    “Shocker… a democrat wants the government involved in a private business dispute.”

    That’s a 9 billion dollar business dispute, that affects the livelihoods of tens of thousands of people – and it’s anything but private.

    Shocker… a republican hires scab labor to erect temporary seating that he knows might kill people – he doesn’t care and sells more tickets than available seats anyway. Screw the people.

  3. I notice Rockefellar contradicts himself. He says nothing should be kept private, but any third party might redact sensitive information. hence you know democrats will force the league to fork over ALL information.

  4. I thought it was silly when the government got involved in the steroid “hearings” in baseball, but if the NFL wants to keep their anti-trust exemption, but doesn’t want to negotiate in good faith with the players, then the government has every right to get involved.

    The owners think they have the players in a corner because the players can’t afford to not play, and the owners have guaranteed money coming from the TV contract whether they play or not. So they aren’t trying to be fair, they are trying to win the negotiation.

    But if congress threatens to pull their anti-trust exemption, the owners could magically get something done in a hurry.

  5. I’m not surprised a Democrat politician was the one to mention this, but I am surprised his name didnt start with an O…..

    Smalltownqb, you make it very difficult for anyone to take you seriously, when you cant differentiate “than” vs “then”. It is like saying “looser” when you mean “loser”, or saying “your an idiot” when you mean “youre an idiot”…. just saying

  6. While I’m not a free market advocate, I don’t think politicians should be involved at any time. I bet some free advocate proponents, would want the government to step in if there is no football for over a year.

    That’s how I felt until I read @smalltownqb comment.

    While I still feel strongly about my position. smalltownqb makes a brilliant point. If the NFL lobbies politicians to get publicly financed stadiums against tax payer wishes. I don’t see why they should be up in arms when government tries to force them to play football.

  7. Although the use of tax revenue is true in some stadiums, it is not used in all. Regardless, the government needs to focus on more pressing issues at hand rather than ones that put them in the spotlight. Issues like keeping the government open and creating jobs for people who really need the money to survive rather than rich people squabbling about who gets more millions.

  8. just what we need a bunch of political hacks that can’t get a job in the private sector commenting on the NFL CBA. jeeez there is a surprise .. a democrat sucking up to the union… wow.. like he doesnt know his consituent base support and hasn’t calculated the remark affect prior to making it. hey Rocky why dont you shutty!

  9. The threat os reexamining the antitrust exemption granted the NFL by the US government is the only incentive needed to pressure the owners to police themselves. Whenever a politician speaks up about the owners’ questionable behavior that is not in the public’s interest, that is the implied threat. Given the immense public popularity of the NFL, I feel certain that there will be more than one government official who speaks out – and reflects the annoyance of the public – if the NFL locks out its players on March 4th. Afterall, Congress prefers popular issues that it can resolve immediately over all the usual nebulous issues – employment, budgets, etc. – that cast them in a bipartisan light.

  10. @ Foozie

    “Shocker… a republican hires scab labor to erect temporary seating that he knows might kill people – he doesn’t care and sells more tickets than available seats anyway. Screw the people.”

    The only team that isn’t private is the Packers. Next, please find proof that Jerry Jones is a registered republican first, and second, prove to me that they hired scabs to install the seating. I agree that they botched the seating incident but that was more for greed, not political affiliation. At least my comment was policy accurate, yours was just a random thought.

  11. biggerballz says:

    i’m going to ask my boss to see the books too! Maybe


    If your boss wants you to take a cut because he says that he can’t afford it AND he won’t open up the books then he’s LYING. I’ve been at a few companies that were asked to take cuts and all but one DID open up the books and all but that one got concessions from the employees and that one continued to pay himself and upper management big bonuses while he was crying poverty.

  12. chapnastier says: Feb 28, 2011 9:44 AM

    “@ Foozie
    The only team that isn’t private is the Packers. Next, please find proof that Jerry Jones is a registered republican first, ”

    Are you kidding?
    He routinely backs republican candidates with big $$. W is a regular fixture in his box. He’s a southern white oilman… Geez. Do you need a flashlight and a roadmap?

    “and second, prove to me that they hired scabs to install the seating.”

    Here, I’ll do half the work for you; Seating Solutions, Inc. & Manhattan Construction. Look ’em up yourself. Both scab. No union affiliations whatsoever.

    Is there anything else I can do for you today?

  13. I wonder if Peyton Manning won’t sign his new contract until a new labor deal is negotiated? It’d be a good way to put pressure on his owner to push for a deal.

  14. Let’s get one thing straight, Congress is NOT going to revoke the NFL’s Anti-trust exemption. There are several reasons for that, the owners have way more friends than enemies in Congress, pulling the exemption would wreck more havoc on the players then they current dispute, would create even more widespread job losses, cities that are depended on NFL revenue to make bond payments would be in disarray, just to name a few.

    Congress may or may not try to exert pressure on these negotiations, but pulling the exemption is out of the question. While the NFLPA would love for Congress, the media, the public, and anyone else to lobby on their behalf – you will not hear them call for the exemption to be revoked. If the exemption were to be revoked it would hurt the owners, but it would hurt the players even more as a crippled league would cut player costs exponentially more than they are trying to do now.

  15. chapnastier says:
    Feb 28, 2011 9:13 AM
    Shocker… a democrat wants the government involved in a private business dispute.
    The nfl stopped being “private” when they decided to take public money!

  16. @ foozier

    First… your stereotyping racism about a successful white guy is absurd. I was not aware of his voter registration or his voting history which is why I asked. You didn’t win a battle there you just had more spare time than I had.

    Second, are you trying to imply that every single non-union employee is a “scab”? A scab worker is a replacement for a striking union worker. By saying that all non-union construction workers aren’t capable of performing a job is the most asinine thing I have ever heard.

    Keep trying though, you might get me on one point sooner or later.

  17. they represent me, you and all the rest of the fans that are ultimately the ones getting the shaft. In times of economic struggles people need outlets in order to remain sane……..to be able to watch a game on Sunday is a big part of that…..Ive put my money, time and emotions into my team and I certainly dont want to miss a year of action because the two greedy sides cant agree on how many millions/billions each side is going to make….Congress is representing our interests because we as fans arent going to be heard. So all the power to ya Reps/Sens if they wont make it happen its up to you !

  18. For the few of you that keep incorrectly saying that the NFL takes public money, THEY DO NOT! Public funds are used to build public stadiums. The NFL uses these facilities they do not own them. I am aware that some teams actually do own their own stadiums, like the Redskins and Cowboys, but public money was not used to build these stadiums. The public stadiums that the NFL teams use are also used by other businesses and events, all of whom pay the city (or entity set up to run the stadium) for the use of the stadium. In fact, instead of the NFL taking public money they actually contribute their own money to help build public stadiums! (I realize that there contribution is not altruistic, that they are contributing because they have certain demands for how the stadium should be built, but the fact remains it is their private money going into the public stadium, NOT public money going to the NFL)

  19. “Opening the books” is a red herring. Once the union had the chance to review the books, their response would be exactly that as one of the posters on this thread; ‘the Packers made 9 million dollars, down from over 20 million the year before, so they still made money, and therefore there’s no reason to change the CBA’.

    Wrong. In 2006, the Packers made over 35 million. In 2008, they made 20 million and in 2009, they made 9 million. At the same time, their players costs, with the youngest team in the league for each of those years, increased by an average of 15% per year.

    Union morons; see any trend there by any chance? Even if union people were honest enough to admit the truth that there is a problem in the making, they never would; it is much easier for most of these mindless lemmings to simply mouth their class and racial bigotries that are drilled into their little, uneducated minds.

    When the NBA and the NHL opened their books, the response was the same. The problem was simply ignored by the union. Show them the books and show them the problem, and their response will simply be, ‘never mind’.

    Lastly, look at the union supporting posts on this thread or others. The one clown declares that everybody who isn’t in a union is a scab. Here’s a clue for you nitwit: Texas is a right to work state. Here’s another fact for you: The majority of losers who belong to unions work for one level of government or another. Private sector unionization is now less than 7% of the work force. I suppose all 93% of the non union people in this country are “scabs” in your book?

    You are a joke.

  20. biggerballz says:


    All those that I talked about were “private” company. If you work for a public company then you can get a 10k and see if they’re showing a profit or not and if they say that they aren’t, the investors may want an audit to see how bad it really is and you can use that. If they’re not willing to show you the books and they fire you over it then they’re lying. Let’s not forget that “private” companies don’t have to worry about scaring off investors when they open up their books and if they really need relief, their customers will understand that when they open up the books to show you how badly they need relief,

  21. I see nothing at all wrong with some pre-emptive words from congress. It’s good that those who give the NFL its golden rules, offer some advice whenever Roggy Goodell and the rest of the billionaire cronies start acting like they are untouchable.

  22. Let’s see….1.6 trillion dollar deficit!….15 trillion dollars in debt!….Millions out of work!…No solution to any of the issues. (Except printing more worthless paper to bail out their bankster buddies.)….Depublicans and Remocrats pointing the finger at each other as to who is to blame. I think Congress has done enough. Don’t you? Leave football alone!!!!!

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