From The Labor Front … Morning Cup O’Chiefs

It’s the next “big week” in the labor battle between the NFL and the players.

On Friday, the appeal of the ruling by U.S. District Judge Susan Nelson will be held in front of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis. The appeal was filed by the NFL after Judge Nelson granted an injunction against the owners and their lockout of the players.

Since the Court of Appeals stayed the injunction and later upheld that stay, the legal analysts believe the judges will rule in favor of the owners and the legality of their lockout. That would put a huge dent in what the players can get done and would continue to leave the 2011 season in doubt.

In the last few days, there have been a lot of interesting stories floating around the league. They were not about this Friday’s hearing or the strength of either side’s argument. They were about the little people, who have been losing out as the lockout goes to its 11th week.

I had my say last week about the ridiculous situation of Chiefs ownership slashing the salaries of front office employees, even though the lockout has nothing to do with them. Here’s the link.

Here are some other stories on that front.


Ever so quietly when the lockout began back in March, the Baltimore Ravens decided they were going to cut staff salaries during the lockout.

It took time for that news to get out, but once it did, the Ravens reacted quickly and rescinded the 25 percent salary cuts and paid back the money they had withheld from staff checks. The news came through Pro Football Talk.

With that decision, they became the ninth team that has been identified as not slashing any salary, staff or forcing furloughs before the time the league starts losing games. Those teams are: Baltimore, Dallas, Green Bay, Indianapolis, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, New York Giants, Oakland and Seattle.

Those teams deserve a tip of the hat for not joining the other 23 teams – including the Chiefs – and reaching into the wallets and pocket books of the little people that work for them.


While team management has not ruled out slicing pay checks if the league starts to lose games due to the lockout, the Green Bay Packers are not hitting their staff or coaches for money.

“It’s based on when we’re going to start missing revenue,” Murphy said late last week. “That’s why we have not started withholding yet.”

Murphy acknowledged that after nearly three months, the lockout has had a minimal effect on the Packers’ bottom line.

“Each team has to make their own decisions, and some teams have been affected already,” Murphy said. “We’re very fortunate I think with the type of fans we have and the success we had last year. We haven’t seen a drop-off in ticket revenue or premium seats, where some of the other teams in the league, they’ve already seen losses in revenue.”

(Chiefs officials proudly proclaim that season ticket sales are up for the 2011 season, over the numbers from 2010. Thus, they’ve made more revenue. Thus, their cut of employees’ pay makes even less sense.)

Murphy is part of the league’s executive committee and negotiating team and remains hopeful of an agreement. He would prefer face-to-face negotiations with players.

“The lawyers are controlling things now, rather than the principals,” Murphy said. “To me that’s always a concern.”

In this situation, that’s an understatement.


Pittsburgh LB Larry Foote is a Detroit native and he was back home reading one of his local papers when he came across a story about the Lions forcing employees to take unpaid furloughs because of the lockout. Here’s the story.

And here is Foote’s reaction. He was unhappy.

“That’s ridiculous; we all know through this lockout owners aren’t losing money, they’re making money,” Foote told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette newspaper. “They pay us $1,000 a week just to work out. Roster bonuses haven’t been paid.

“They also don’t have to pay health insurance, contribute to the pension fund, pay for medical issues, pay for lunches during the spring workouts and much more. To lay people off to save money? I don’t know who they’re trying to fool.

“How the heck are they laying people off? I don’t get that part. That ain’t right, right there. That’s affecting people’s lives; they’re not making millions of dollars, many of them are going check to check. They’re going too far. That’s ridiculous now.”

I second that emotion.


There was an interesting look at this situation from Mike Sando of He spoke with University of Chicago Economist Allen Sanderson on what the owners are thinking by slicing the salaries of the little people in this mess.

“My guess is they are not looking at this long term,” Sanderson said. “One way is just sort of short term — we need to make the payroll this month and don’t have money coming in. The other is either politically, psychologically or from a public-relations basis, it shows some suffering on the part of one side.”

Sanderson believes the owners are trying to show hardship, so they are creating some. Not for themselves, but their employees. “I suspect that is what is going on,” Sanderson said. “It’s like saying you’ll switch to Dunkin’ Donuts instead of Starbucks for coffee in the office. You cannot save enough money from that kind of switch. Part of it is symbolic.”


Miami owner Stephen Ross defended the owners last week. The Dolphins have cut salaries and promised to pay back employees or give them extra days off if the season proceeds as normal.

“We all have our problems, and we’re trying to minimize them as much as possible, and as fairly and equitably as we can,” Ross told USA TODAY. “We recognize that people affected are working for us. They don’t have all the upside, so they shouldn’t have all the downside. We’re just kind of delaying cash payments. We all know the position that we’re in.”

Sorry Mr. Ross, delaying cash payments to people least able to handle that kind of delayed financial situation doesn’t wash, isn’t fair and should be reconsidered by those 23 teams that are hurting the little guys. Cutting the salaries of your coaching staff and scouting department hurts morale.

More and more the owners are showing that no matter how smart they’ve been in creating the wealth to operate an NFL team, they have no idea how the other half lives, even when they are on their payroll and in their building.

12 Responses to “From The Labor Front … Morning Cup O’Chiefs”

  • June 1, 2011  - RW says:

    There has to be, no, make that there IS a point when one of the sides will blink and concede significant issues to the other. That would be the tipping point and it will come down to the money as it always does.

    Anytime you hear, “It’s not about the money”, rest assured that’s exactly the key issue and so it is here. On the one hand we have 32 owners to remain steadfast in their solidarity. On the other, there’s something like 1800 players to hold the line. The numbers would suggest fragmentation and rebellion among the players will be more likely, thus pulling on the knot thread of player unification.

    So, if that’s the case, the next big question is WHEN? Not IF, but when? Sometime in the next month, two months, three months or longer? If the greedy blood sucking lawyers have any say, the longer the better, and they’re having way more say than they should so, stay tuned.

    As to the employee payment/non-payment issue: I generally agree with Bob and others that it’s extremely short sighted for Clark Hunt and others to be walking over dollars to pick up nickles.

    People are the main asset of any successful business. Attracting talented people to work in one’s organization is a byproduct of continuing success so what kind of message is being sent to future would-be quality employees targeting sports and sports management as a career path?

    I’m seeing those folks getting a bony middle finger resulting in short term gain and long term pain for the myopic moves of the Chiefs and others in the NFL. There’s smart business decisions and cost saving business decisions. Sometimes the two go together but often they do not.

  • June 1, 2011  - Mike in MO says:

    Well said, Bob. I’ve lost a huge amount of respect for young Master Hunt. He doesn’t begin to approach his father’s level of decency, kindness, and fair play. He’s simply a spoiled brat, lucky enough to have been born with a silver spoon in his mouth. He has absolutely no sense of loyalty to or concern for those who have helped him make his billions. It’s all about Clark.

  • June 1, 2011  - Mike says:

    It is really unfortunate. In the begining of this labor dispute, I leaned towards the owers side as they are the employer, they have all the finacial risk, ect., but hitting the “little guy” so to speak is sad, very sad. The billionaire owners are taking this out on people that can’t fight for themselves. The coaches are also being hurt, but I suspect they will be the next group to file an action against the league. The more and more this drags on, the less interested I become with the NFL in general.

  • June 1, 2011  - PAChiefsFan says:

    The owners are a lot like the politicians in Washington. They are only concerned about their own bottom line not the average person. Their actions speak so loudly I don’t care what they say.

  • June 1, 2011  - I wasn't with or against the owners, but now I am says:

    I hope the players take the owners for every dime they’ve got.

  • June 1, 2011  - cychief24 says:

    Just another example of the Rich elite trying to get rid of the middle class. What the Rich elite don’t understand is if they get rid of us, whose going to patron their business?

  • June 1, 2011  - txchief says:

    Bob, you and all the other owner bashers have a complete lack of perspective about what it takes to run a business. If you think that any amployer enjoys having to cut back on employee salaries or lay off emplyees, you are sadly mistaken. How can any business continue to pay employee salaries when there is no business being done and no immediate prospect for business to resume? The owners had a plan to try to maintain a revenue stream and maintain business operations, but that was struck down by activist Judge Doty and the NFLPA/DeDouchebag Smith.

    Any business that intentionally puts itself in a money losing position will not be around for long. The franchise owners have huge financial risks and loan payments that are not going away just because there is a labor dispute. Your article and other replys to this thread exemplify the lack of financial and business knowledge in our country. You all must think that the NFL is some kind of socialist entitlement program. I love the Chiefs and the NFL, but I (and everyone else) can certainly live without professional football. Everyone should remember that the players chose to go down the endless road of litigation rather than bargaining in good faith in front of the NLRB, a notorious pro-union organization.

  • June 1, 2011  - txchief says:

    Oh, and by the way, do any of you all think there would be an NFL without the owners? The players can’t even get everyone on the tream together for a few workouts and playbook study, much less build stadiums/team facilities, create a successful business operation (and jobs) and administrate healthcare and retirement benefits!

    Those of you who condemn the owners’ actions, you should also condemn the players and their representatives actions that threaten to destroy the NFL. If the NFL becomes another MLB, the Chiefs are done and will NEVER be competitive again!

  • June 2, 2011  - KSCHIEFAN says:

    Taking sides here is just silly. This whole thing is silly. Most of these teams are well run organizations with staff to schedule and handle everything from toilet paper to stadium power management systems. The real looser here is the working class fan. We look forward to draft day, spring workouts and all the excitement that leads up to opening day. Then the season opens and we fill the stadiums to see these highly talented players take the field for battle and it really is a battle. That is what makes the NFL different from Baseball. Will this dispute ruin the NFL just like overpaid players have ruined baseball? Time will tell. The time has come for fans to speak out. If the owners want real losses, just don’t go to the games. Don’t buy the stuff. If money really talks let’s make it scream.

  • June 2, 2011  - leo says:

    TXCHIEF: I know what it takes to run a business. I have done so for 24 years. Yes, it is hard to lay off employees, but you do that when there is no other recourse. Bob, to attack the owners for cutting salaries without attacking the players for not negotiating is not fair. Both sides are to blame for this. The greed is dripping from the paper on the lawsuits. If the players are concerned about this they need to get with the owners and solve this. Beings there is no union, they can negotiate direct with the owners. TX the NLRB is neccessary to protect workers rights. You sound like a right winged wacko conservative labor bashing person to me.

  • June 3, 2011  - el cid says:

    It is all somewhere in the middle. Any time one of you take a side, either side, we, as fans, lose. We need to be united on the side of the fans. Might even throw in the taxpayers who forked over the money for stadiums. Do not get caught up in “your team” to much, the owners can move in the middle of the night to greener pastures. Likewise, the players side, most will be gone in 4 more years. I was out of the country for a while and, guess what, life is a whole lot more than pro football.

  • June 3, 2011  - el cid says:

    Quick PS, Clark Hunt is a mirror of his dad. Many of you have fond memories but come on. The Hunts are all about the bottom line, as they should be. But never expect anything from Clark but the company (NFL) line, he has not been a leader or even a deep thinker, he knows where the money for his next meal will come from.

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