By Elizabeth DiNovella on Sep 25, 2012
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker woke up this morning still reeling from last night’s Green Bay Packers loss to the Seattle Seahawks. He tweeted: After catching a few hours of sleep, the #Packers game is still just as painful.
For the nearly 47% of Wisconsinites that voted to recall the Gov, the irony of the union-busting governor calling for the end of the labor lockout was rich. Union referees are OK for the NFL, but union teachers are somehow not OK?
One of the biggest ironies is that the people who supported Scott Walker are the ones behind the lockout. His donations from sports figures came not from the athletes, but from current and former owners and team executives. Among them: Robert C. McNair ($10,000), Chairman and CEO of the Houston Texans; Michael J. Bidwell ($25,000), President of the Arizona Cardinals; and Patrick G. Ryan ($100,000), who owns—quelle horreur—10% of the Chicago Bears.
Maybe Walker can personally call the owners and ask them to stand down. He could suggest that a divide and conquer strategy can have too high a price.
The other irony is that of all the teams to get royally screwed by the owners’ heavy-handed labor management technique, it’s Green Bay. The Packers don’t even have an owner. The team is publicly owned.
Moreover, the team stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the Wisconsin workers last year. The amazing Charles Woodson, cornerback and one the Packers’ elected representatives to the players union, released a powerful statement in February 2011. It read, in part:
“I was proud when many of my current and former teammates announced their support for the working families fighting for their rights in Wisconsin. Today I am honored to join with them. Thousands of dedicated Wisconsin public school workers provide vital services for Wisconsin citizens. They are the teachers, nurses, and child care workers who take care of us and our families. These hard working people are under an unprecedented attack to take away their basic wrights to have a voice and collectively bargain at work.”
The 47% of Wisconsin hasn’t forgotten this. Fans are calling for a protest at Lambeau Field next Sunday, September 30.
The main sticking point between the referees and the NFL owners are retirement benefits. The refs want to continue the traditional pensions, while the owners want to eliminate them and replace it with a 401(k) plan. This was one of the sticking points in the labor standoff between public sector unions and Governor Walker.
As outspoken Democratic state senator Lena Taylor tweeted, it’s nice to see Governor Walker come around on unions. Sad it took a Packers loss to do the trick.
If you liked this story by Elizabeth DiNovella, the Culture Editor of The Progressive magazine, check out her story "Dark Money’s Dark Role in Wisconsin Races."
Follow Elizabeth DiNovella @lizdinovella on Twitter