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Now, THIS is a powerful message (Wallace Matthews Column today)

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Blog Is My Co-Pilot, Jan 31, 2007.

  1. cranberry

    cranberry Well-Known Member

    I think you're talking about the Line of Duty Disability Fund, which was collectively bargained as a benefit for existing players and extended to retirees. Nothing wrong with that. A union negotiating with the league to "set aside" money would definitely be a conflict of interest because that money would then be unavailable to the current members, assuring them a smaller pie from which to negotiate.
  2. Starman

    Starman Well-Known Member

    This problem was actually hinted at by George Plimpton in the book "Mad Ducks and Bears," published in 1973, in a chapter in which he described meeting with some former NFL players who had played from the 1930s to the 1950s, and about how no players who retired prior to 1959 got any pensions at all, and many were broke and desitute in their senior years, and how it came to be an issue in the late 1960s, and how Vince Lombardi had attempted to put some pressure on the owners and union to make some provision for older players, and pretty much had gotten blown off by both sides.

    Of course, the players who played from the 1930s to 1950s are mostly dead now, so for the most part that problem is solved. For the players whose careers have taken place in the four decades since, it's not so simple.
  3. lantaur

    lantaur Well-Known Member

    Real Sports on HBO had a good story about this (the NFLPA ignoring the older players) last week, I believe. Ditka was on there as well. As was Conrad Dobler, who looks like a shell of his former self and who basically said he'd kill himself when the time came rather than endure too much pain.
  4. The Big Ragu

    The Big Ragu Moderator Staff Member

    They already do this, though, when it comes to other things. The union and the league sit down and say, "This is important. Before we negotiate percentages, let's set aside $X million dedicated to it." The one thing I am certain about is the NFL Youth Fund. Here's a link to the Youth Fund page:


    The league and the union set up a non-profit foundation to administer it in programs that support football at the community level.

    That is money that is unavailable to current NFL players. When they negotiated their percentage, that money wasn't included. And there's no conflict of interest, because they decided this was an important goal and they found agreement about it.

    The reason it works with the youth fund, but not the disability fund, is that if they don't spend the youth fund money, or just use it for window-dressing, no one really notices or cares. When they don't spend the disability money, former players who are disabled speak up about it.
  5. keef spoon

    keef spoon Member

    Kudos to Matthews. Anyone who exposes the hypocrisy of the NFL is alright in my book. You won't find any NFL beat writers/columnists doing it. They're too busy bowing to the altar of Tagliabue/Goodell and realizing they're a part of the most successful league in sports and don't want to do anything that could possibly ruin a good thing.

    I hate the NFL.
  6. cranberry

    cranberry Well-Known Member


    I'm dropping the quote function because it was getting too long. There's a big difference between the league and the union both putting moeny into a program (like the Industry Growth Fund in baseball) and the union trying to negotiate benefits for players who are no longer in the collective bargaining unit.

    If you're saying the union should help the league pay for improving the retirees' benefits, that's even more illogical. The former players were employed by the NFL, not the union.
  7. The Big Ragu

    The Big Ragu Moderator Staff Member

    Cran, I am NOT saying that the current players should--or do--sit down at a negotiating table and negotiate on behalf of anyone other than themselves. You are the one who keeps saying that and attributing it to me. I am saying that the current players and the league can agree to anything they deem important. And they can agree to set aside money--and this is money that comes out of both the owners and the players pockets, because that is what "set aside" means--to benefit any cause they want, including disabled former players. In fact, they already do set aside money into a disability fund. The problem is that it seems to exist as window dressing, so they can say they are doing something, without actually doing it. The union makes sure that the money doesn't actually get spent. If they were serious about it as an issue, they would appoint someone independent to administer the fund, rather than sitting on the money themselves and fighting all claims by former players. There is nothing saying they can't do that--other than the fact that the NFL and NFLPA would never agree to put money into a fund that they don't control.

    The union has no fidiciary responsibility to take care of former players. It does, however, have a PR problem on its hands, because it doesn't take care of its former players. Not sure I can say it any more clearly than that.
  8. cranberry

    cranberry Well-Known Member

    You can't seem to understand that a union getting together with an employer and deciding to "set aside" the employer's money for a group other than the collective bargaining unit is negotiating and it is unethical. A union's sole responsibility is to represent its current bargining unit. I've told you a number of times now that the disability fund was collectively bargained as a benefit for current members and extended to former members but you can't seem to grasp that very obvious difference. You also can't seem to grasp that it's never been the financial responsibility of any union in any industry to provide benefits to former employees. Here's a novel concept: Let the former employees go back to their employers and ask them to pay for improved benefits. The fact is that it's well within the NFL's power to improve the benefits for former employees. The union has no standing to negotiate the benefits nor any obligation to pay them.
  9. The Big Ragu

    The Big Ragu Moderator Staff Member

    And you are so hooked on some weird semantics button that I have pushed, that you refuse to acknowledge reality. Instead, you insist on a phantom argument of your choosing.

    I am talking about reality. I have no idea what is and isn't ethical in labor law parlance. And it really doesn't matter to me. Call what they do WHATEVER makes you happy. I can just tell you that the reality is that the league and the union DO agree to set aside money for a variety of causes that they agree on--the youth fund and the disability fund are two prime examples. Apparently, there is nothing unethical or out of the ordinary about it, because they DO it. The league and the union sat down and said, "Hey, let's set aside money for a youth football fund." And they use that money to make grants to hundreds of entities that AREN'T NFL players or NFL owners. According to your last post that is unethical and an absolute impossibility. Fine. I'm telling you that reality is that they are doing it.
  10. Clerk Typist

    Clerk Typist Guest

    Sounds as if the NFLPA is as bad as the NHLPA was under Alan Eagleson. Does Gene Upshaw have the Eagle's phone number?
  11. cranberry

    cranberry Well-Known Member

    I've tried to explain two basic concepts to you:

    1) That there are legal restraints/limits to how much a union can do to negotiate increased benefits for retired employees. I realize you don't want to believe me so I suggested you speak to a labor lawyer or human resources expert. Instead, your response has been to to point to joint charitable programs or benefits collectively bargained on behalf of current players and extended to retirees, neither of which are comparable to this situation in which a class of retirees (that doesn't include current players) wants to come back decades later and renegotiate its pension plan.

    2) That the employers of the retirees -- rather than the current employees or the entity that bargains on their behalf -- are the people who (presumably) didn't adequately compensate these people in the first place and are therefore responsible to the extent any entity could be responsible. While it would be nice and perhaps the right thing to do, the NFL has absolutely no legal obligation to negotiate with this class of retirees. The retirees agreed to a certain level of compensation when they played and, now, decades later when they realize they should have done better by themsevles, are coming hat in hand. With no real leverage, they have decided to try and "embarrass" the league into improving their retirement benefits.

    This is the reality, Ragu. Nothing phantom about it. Now, what do you think will happen if 40 years from now you go to your former employer as a retiree and ask to improve your retirement plan because that no-contribution 401K plan doesn't really cut it afterall? Probably the company will say, 'Our mistake!' and retroactively make a big contribution, right?
  12. pseudo

    pseudo Well-Known Member

    Pension somehow equals disability fund? I'm confused...
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