Each community with an NFL team stands to lose as much as $160 million if the team owners force a lockout next season. If the owners get away with the lockout, it could cost 150,000 jobs nationwide and have a ripple effect on how other workers across the country are treated, according to people who labor on the field and in the stadiums.
At a Washington, D.C., press conference, sponsored by American Rights at Work (ARAW) and the NFL Players Association (NFLPA), participants said the 150,000 jobs estimate is based on the NFL’s own numbers. That means workers including ushers, concession stand attendants, grounds crews, security, waiters, waitresses, hotel staffs and others will face the loss of jobs, said Kimberly Freeman Brown, ARAW’s executive director.
Baltimore Ravens cornerback Chris Carr told reporters:
Most players just know football and just want to play football. We’re here today for the workers working in the concession stands, the bars and the restaurants. Those are the people it’s really going to affect.
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Detroit has been hit hard by recession, and a lockout will devastate my coworkers and the city’s economy.
The owners’ lockout threat came after they opted out of the collective bargaining agreement with the NFLPA two years before it was due to expire, saying it isn’t working for them. But they refuse to provide audited financial information to explain what is wrong in a business that generated $9 billion in 2009 during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.
On top of that $9 billion and whatever they made in this football season, the owners will rake in another $4 billion next season even if there are no games because CBS and the other networks that air NFL games have agreed to pay that amount to the NFL even if there is a lockout. In other words, because of CBS and the other networks, the owners have lockout insurance.
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George Atallah of the NFLPA said the issue isn’t one of billionaires versus milionaires:
Today is about standing together to raise the issue of workers like John who will be locked out. Players have stood with workers, like hotel workers in Indianapolis, for basic workplace principles. This is not a stunt. Some players will be fine through a lockout, but real people like John will be hurt.
The owners want the players to give back $1 billion and play 18 games a season instead of the current 16, which both Carr and former Washington Redskins player Brian Mitchell warned would lead to increased player injuries.
David Zirin, sports editor for The Nation, said this dispute affects every worker. He said the NFL owners’ demands on the players boil down to:
We want you to work more and pay you less and if you don’t agree we’ll lock the door. We’re watching the most powerful men in America tell workers to work longer for less pay. This is huge for everyone.
“This dispute isn’t just about football, it’s about jobs,” said ARAW’s Brown:
We want to make sure that rebuilding our economy isn’t at the expense of players and workers.