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Union refs, teachers win big
by Jake Highton
Oct 03, 2012 | 2994 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Unionism, battered nationally for a decade, scored two glorious victories recently. The National Football League Referees Association defeated the pinch-penny owners and the Chicago Teachers Union beat the corporatist mayor of Chicago.

The NFL was humiliated by an outpouring of outrage by fans, players and coaches because of egregious incompetence by scab referees. The scabs not only botched many calls in three weeks but sorely damaged the integrity of the nation’s most popular sport.

The epitome of the fiasco occurred by a ruling on the last play of a nationally televised game that cost Green Bay a victory against Seattle. Seattle committed two fouls that were not called, first shoving a defender out of the way and then stealing the football caught by another defender.

Commissioner Roger Goodell was so embarrassed he and the owners settled immediately.

The debacle need not have been. The NFL has a nest egg of $9 billion yet locked out its refs for a measly $3.2 million pay increase and a boost in retirement funding. The New York Times called the amount just four hundreds of 1 percent of the lucre.

Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay quarterback, summed up the anger: “The game was tarnished by an NFL that cared more about saving money than seeing the game diminished.”

Bruce Jenkins, sports columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, urged readers: “Remember this when it comes to owners in any sport: don’t count on anything that resembles common sense. A good number of NFL owners have contended for weeks that the league can get by without its regular officials for an entire season.”

Jenkins also reminded us that Goodell is a mere pawn of the owners.    

Teacher triumph

The Big Guys don’t always win. Proof: Chicago teachers defeated Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Emanuel, the bullying millionaire, began his fight with demagoguery.

“Our kids belong in the classroom,” Emanuel insisted.

Ah, the kids! Who can be against them?

“This is a strike of choice,” the mayor declared. “It’s unnecessary and it’s wrong.”

No, it was necessary and it was right.

Emanuel is one of the reactionaries leading the assault on unions throughout the country.

The Chicago school board consists mostly of corporate executives. Education is too important to be run by CEOs.

Yet Emanuel treated teaching as just another business. This so-called liberal espoused so-called corporate reform with an agenda of teacher-testing and teacher-paying based on test scores.

What the teachers won are important: protection of laid-off teachers because of school closings, protection of seniority rights and rejection of test-based merit pay. They also won the dignity and respect that professional educators deserve.

Finally, the teachers overcame the frenzied media that told readers and viewers that the teachers were greedy, overpaid, underworked and led by irresponsible unions.

Conservative howls

Puritans will be shocked by news that New York City high schools are handing out morning-after pills to girls.

Sensible Americans, however, will think it wise. Every America high school should do likewise.

Raging sexuality among teens is unavoidable, a fact realized by schools that already issue birth control pills and condoms.

Kids are much too immature to have children. It stilts their lives before they have barely begun.

Jake Highton is an emeritus journalism professor at the University of Nevada, Reno.
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