A lot of people have noted on Twitter and the bloggysphere something to the effect of “referees are valued the same way by the NFL as teachers are by education ‘reformers'” (which is to say, not at all). Most of the talk has been about the conflict over the pension fund (the NFL refs want to keep a traditional pension fund). But what’s missing is that the real sticking issue, according to several people including Sports Illustrated’s Peter King is that the NFL wants to be able to fire referees mid-season for any cause. The NFL owners want to eliminate labor protections for the referees.
Oddly enough, that sounds like one of the issues the Chicago teachers were striking over. Nobody wants to protect incompetent workers, whether they be referees or teachers, but anyone who isn’t completely in the tank for our corporate overlords (praise be they!) realizes that sometimes they fire people for stupid, capricious reasons (shocking I know). Like union organizing. For instance. Not surprisingly, workers (leaving aside those who have learned to love kissing the ring on the master’s whip hand) want to protect themselves against this attitude, which stems from a complete contempt for workers’ abilities: the replacement refs were awful–and they had experience being referees. Workers are not fungible in many cases. They have skills and experience that can not be replaced, although, if you’re lucky, that can be rebuilt over time. But if you’re a CEO suffering from MBA Derangement Syndrome, ultimately retaining control of the process and the ‘metrics’ that guide it is more important than the end result, the outcome, or the product. I hope the NFL strike taught people: workers aren’t necessarily the consumer’s enemy, and CEOs aren’t necessarily their friends.
OK, the NFL refs situation was a lot like that of teachers….