Regardless of where you fall on the political spectrum, unions are indeed very much a part of American life and, especially, American football. They are as important as the funny-shaped ball, the helmets, and the half-naked dancing ladies with the pom-poms. So, before people start spouting a bunch of nonsense about the "evil" of unions (I'm in three unions myself), I will lay out the details of this little news update.
From our partners at National Football Post:
In a display of support for hotel employees in Indianapolis attempting to unionize, the NFL Players Association is threatening to boycott a trio of Indianapolis hotels during the annual NFL scouting combine: the Sheraton, Hyatt Regency and the Westin.
According to the Associated Press, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith and executive committee member and Indianapolis Colts center Jeff Saturday signed letters addressed to hotel executives stating a belief that hotels are "bullying employees into staying out of the union" and are employing unfair wage practices.
I'm sure some of you are already typing up comments, talking about how Jeff Saturday should just "just up and play football," but the reality here is Jeff is a very important representative of the NFL Player's Association (NFLPA), which just so happens to be one of the most powerful unions in America. The NFLPA has done a lot to advance the status of American football. Back in the 1950s, Baltimore Colts players had to work in factories during the off-season because football itself did not pay enough. Owners would horde all the profits for themselves, and if players stepped out of line they were simply replaced.
The NFLPA changed all that.
So, no offense, but if you have a biased hatred of unions in general, please note that the football you know and love today simply would not exist without the NFLPA and player representatives like Jeff Saturday. If you recall, Jeff Saturday was not some highly touted college player when he graduated from North Carolina in 1999. He was an undrafted rookie, signed and cut by the Baltimore Ravens before the Colts scooped him up. In 2000, he won the started job as the team's center. Since then, you could make an argument that he is a borderline Hall of Famer. His whole career and reputation is built out of hard work, guts, and a fearless willingness to speak his mind.
Remember when Jeff Saturday essentially told Bill Polian to f*ck off after Polian pointed a finger at the o-line following the Super Bowl? Not many people in this league have the balls to do that. Jeff Saturday does, and that's why he's a union rep.
What Jeff and the NFLPA are doing here is encouraging local Indianapolis hotel employees to unionize. Employees apparently felt they were not being paid or (possibly) treated fairly by their employers. As the article suggests, there has been some "bullying" going on by hotel reps not wanting employees to join a union. The NFLPA, a very BIG union, is backing this new union of hotel workers, and telling companies like Westin, Hyatt, and Regency that NFL players may boycott their hotels if they don't stop this "bullying." Hotels make a ton of money off NFL players and their families (please, no LT jokes) during events like the NFL Scouting Combine, and for them to get on the bad side of a powerful union like the NFLPA would be a bad thing.
Again, as someone who belongs to several unions, and who believes in equal, fair pay, I personally see no problem with the NFLPA making an effort to help a local union in Indianapolis. It's not like big corporations like Westin and Hyatt don't have the money to pay hotel workers a decent salary and benefits for the work they do.
However you fall in the political debate of unions, the reality is part of Jeff Saturday's "job" is to act as a union rep. And, part of doing that job is coming to the aid of other unions. If that is not appealing to you personally, watch college football. The game may suck in comparison to the pros, and the stench of corporate greed may continue to choke the life out of any potential playoff system, but at least there are no unions, right?