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Amy Traub

I’d Miss Eli Manning: So Would NY’s Economy

A highly profitable business plans to cut the pay of its frontline employees because, of course, it could always be more profitable. The only obstacle? That darn union…

It sounds like the story of last year’s strike at the upstate New York Mott’s plant But it’s also my tale of growing passion for the New York Giants. Just as I was anticipating a 2012 repeat of the thrilling 2008 Super Bowl win, I instead face a season bereft of Eli Manning, and a situation that looks eerily similar to the chronicles of corporate greed playing out across America.

The NFL is earning record profits. Yet, as football fans know, owners have suspended the current contract in an effort to make the players agree to play more regular season games while reducing the share of league revenue set aside for player salaries. The result is a likely lockout if a new contract can’t be reached by March 3. The NFL players may be glamorous major league athletes: but like many working Americans, they’re being told by a hugely profitable enterprise to work more for less pay.

Of course, football players make very good money. Few will be in line for food stamps even if they are effectively unemployed come March. But the threatened lockout isn’t just about them. While team owners stand to profit from guaranteed TV revenue whether or not NFL football actually gets played next season, the guy filling beer pitchers at my local sports bar won’t be so lucky. As Kim Freeman Brown of American Rights at Work explains “A lockout would impact 150,000 jobs and cause more than $160 million in lost revenue in every city with an NFL team.”

It's true, as the New York Times' Clyde Haberman never ceases to remind us, that the Giants and Jets in fact play in New Jersey. But that only means the economic pain would be spread throughout the metro area. Hotel and restaurant employees, workers selling tickets, manning concession stands, and serving football’s many support positions would all be collateral damage in the event of a lockout by NFL management.

And what about the players, who are, after all, the people we’re actually tuning in or showing up to watch on the job? If huge men with the eyes of the world on them can’t get a fair deal at work, what chance do the rest of us have?

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Posted at 3:19 PM, Feb 10, 2011 in Labor
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