Cool Things I Read, Vol. 3

Labor edition!

Christiano using his downtime to catch up on his favorite TBP articles

It’s been a couple months since I posted consistently, but in my defense, I was sad and tired. But anyway, onward and upward.

It’s often easy and convenient as leftists to frame the player’s unions in professional sports as The Good Guys in the battle against their billionaire bosses. This week’s batch of articles paint a more complex picture. Though collectively organizing has inarguably improved the livelihoods and working conditions of professional athletes over the last half-century, the power and visibility of these specific unions has not buoyed the larger labor movement in the US.

In a time when workers’ unions are being challenged by an unfriendly NLRB, the increase in right-to-work laws in conservative states, and declining membership numbers, it is only through class solidarity that these trends can be reversed (Note: class is decided not by wealth but by one’s relation to the levers of power, e.g. the ability to hire and fire others; i.e. , despite their wealth, players are laborers). As again, as the most visible union members in our society, these professional athletes have a responsibility to use their platform to further the cause.

Superstar Power

For The Baffler, Nathaniel Friedman and Jesse Einhorn suggest that the NBPA is effectively made up of two distinct castes: the star players and everyone else. This lack of unity and divergent goals then hamstrings the union’s ability to not just advocate for itself but the wider labor movement as well.

Why Minor League Baseball Players Haven’t Unionized

Here, Marc Normandin talks about the sordid working conditions of Minor League baseball players and why they don’t have the union support that their major league teammates do.

I’m Done Helping the NFL Player’s Association Pay Lip Service to DV Prevention

This story should have been a much bigger deal than it was. In it, Dr. Deborah Epstein writes about her decision to resign from the NFLPA’s commission on domestic violence. She reveals that the commission itself is a sham, that the union has no real interest in instituting any serious changes. And while this is to be expected from the League itself given their track record, it is disheartening to see similar attitudes coming from the NFLPA.

Own Goal: The Inside Story of How the USMNT Missed the 2018 World Cup

This article from The Ringer focuses on the power players in US Soccer, and the mistakes they made that ended with the USMNT watching the World Cup from their couches. But the subtext is just as important: the players had little to no voice in the decisions that ultimately decided their fate.

Be back soon.