Perhaps you’ve ignored the National Hockey League’s lockout of its players because you think it doesn’t affect you. Guess again. The owners’ negotiating stance has become the standard for every employer.
Just to fill you in: When the current contract between the players and their owners ran out in July, the owners tabled a contract offer that would see player salaries cut and the total amount paid out to players reduced. The contracts that these players had signed individually with management became waste paper. In 2004, the owners locked out the players and, after a lost season, wound up with a deal that capped salaries and otherwise gave the owners an agreement that they said was final. But, of course, it wasn’t. “The intelligent victor always presents his demands in installments.” Now we’re at the next installment.
Back in 2004, the owners assembled a $300 Million fund to help each other through a season of no hockey. The players had whatever they had put away — that might be a lot for the stars but a whole lot less for the newly drafted and journeymen. This time the owners didn’t bother, NBC provided them with a contract that pays out even if not a single game is televised; the owners can sit back and giggle while they torture small animals or whatever else they may do for diversion.
But these power plays by management have become standard for employers. Take it or leave it, that’s the new by-word. Don’t want a salary cut? Then you don’t work. After all, nobody’s buying anything and interest on corporate debt is minimal. So shut the place down for a while — no one but the employees get hurt. If you’re in a public service job, then a contract can be imposed by the legislature and you must take whatever the politicians offer you. They’re not worried about you; they get rich from the backhanders and “campaign contributions” smeared around by the same people who use lockouts as a negotiating tool.
Oh well, you say, I’m not in a union job. But you are. Everyone that works is dependent on past union victories. All of that is now on the table. Looking forward to a pension? That means you want an “entitlement”. That’s what it’s called now. It used to be called insurance — after all, you paid a premium out of every paycheque for it — but now it’s an “entitlement”. And you know what, you are entitled. You are entitled to every damn nickel you put into that company or government plan plus a piece of whatever interest is left after the banks do their banditry.
The model National Hockey League owner was Harold Ballard. He spent some of his time as owner in a jail cell. He reduced the once-might Leafs to a nothing team and openly laughed at the fans who came out every season to throw money his way. Ballard destroyed that team, but he made a huge profit, and his successors have continued to milk the franchise so that it is the wealthiest in the League. Harold Ballard set an example for owners everywhere: you can deliver a shoddy product and still people will buy it; you can destroy your company and make millions.
Mitt Romney headed a money-making organization whose business operated on Harold Ballard principles. It’s the current corporate model. We all of us — whether the 99% or Romney’s 47% — have skin in this game. And remember, next time you go into work, you might have to face some grinning scumbag in a tailored suit telling you, “Take it or leave it.”