The Super Bowl is the biggest media event of the year. The NFL Player’s Association is the most visible union in the country. And some way or another, these two seemingly unrelated aspects of our sports society will meet in Indiana’s capital city this weekend for Super Bowl Sunday.
“Four days before his state hosts Super Bowl XLVI,” reports Travis Waldron for Think Progress, “Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) signed anti-union “right-to-work” legislation into law Wednesday afternoon, making Indiana the 23rd right-to-work state in the country. Daniels signed the law despite the fact that thousands of workers gathered outside the statehouse in the days leading up to the law’s passage.”
Protesters that are being supported by the NFL Player's Association.
It’s a conflict that has been brewing in Indiana for some time now, as Rachel Maddow noted last month.
It's not surprising, given that Indianapolis is the sight of this year’s Super Bowl, that Indiana’s “right-to-work” legislation has caught the attention of the NFL Player’s Association. The NFLPA, in turn, issued a statement against the proposed law a few weeks ago.
“Right to work is a political ploy designed to destroy basic workers’ rights,” the statement reads. “It’s not about jobs or fights, and it’s the wrong priority for Indiana.
“According to a January 2012 Economic Policy Institute briefing report (“Working Hard to Make Indiana Look Bad”), “right-to-work” will lower wages for a worker in Indiana by $1,500 a year because it weakens the ability of working families to work together, and it will make it less likely that working people will get health care and pensions.”
In the days leading up to this weekend’s championship game, several NFL players, including Indiana natives Rex Grossman, and Jay Cutler, have publicly supported the workers protesting for their rights among the Super Bowl spectacle in downtown Indianapolis.
The issue is especially affronting because this year’s game is being held in a union-built stadium.
“The very people that built the stadium in which the Super Bowl is going to be played and the very people who built the city that is enjoying the limelight — the very people who made this possible — are being disrespected,” notes Indiana AFL-CIO Communications and Outreach Coordinator Jeff Harris.
“If you want to have an intelligent discussion about what the bill is, call it what it is. Call it an anti-organizing bill,” DeMaurice Smith, President of the NFL Players Association told Dave Zirin, sports editor for The Nation. “Let’s cast a vote on whether or not ordinary workers can get together and represent themselves, and let’s have a real referendum.”
A fair fight between two evenly matched teams to determine a conflict that will be remembered for a long time to come. Sounds pretty good.
Go Pats! (And thank you NFLPA.)