'via Blog this'
The labor wars come into an area where Americans won't tolerate it, sports, where they insist on paying money they can hardly afford to watch millionaires bash each other's heads in as their roads remained unpatched, their bridges fall down, and their schools fall apart.
National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell has made it explicit: The lockout of NFL officials is part of the race to the bottom. The referees' pensions are one of the key points of contention between the NFL Referees Association and the league's owners, and, talking to Huffington Post's Dave Jamieson, Goodelldidn't try to pretend that the NFL couldn't afford to continue pensions for its small pool of officials. He just said since most workers these days don't have pensions, why should NFL referees?
"From the owners' standpoint, right now they're funding a pension program that is a defined benefit program," said Goodell, who was in Washington on Wednesday attending a luncheon hosted by Politico's Playbook. "About ten percent of the country has that. Yours truly doesn't have that. It's something that doesn’t really exist anymore and that I think is going away steadily."When 401(k) plans were new, they were marketed as this exciting thing that would make retirement better for everyone. You'd have control of your money! You could invest it how you liked! If you died, your heirs would get all the wealth left over! This bill of goods was sold to people, and companies forcibly took people's pensions whenever possible. Now, a few decades later, defined contribution plans are the norm, and we know for a fact they're not working to provide retirement security and that the United States faces a generation or two of retirement-age people who can't afford to retire."What we agreed to do and offer as ownership," he added, "is that they would have a defined contribution plan, in the form of 401(k), so they'll still have a pension plan but the risk, like [for] most of us, would be on individuals."
But by now employers no longer need to market 401(k) plans as better than pensions. They can admit, as Goodell does, that they're worse, that they put the risk on individuals. Because big business has carried out the divide and conquer and can rely on a critical mass of people to think "if I don't have a pension, why should that guy over there have one?" It's as simple as that. The NFL doesn't need the money. The owners just figure they can get away with kicking refs off their pension and into a defined contribution plan, so why not do it and pocket the extra money themselves?
A reason not to do it might be that, as the head of the NFLRA told Jamieson, "A lot of our guys have made life-career decisions based on assuming that pension would be there." But if you're the kind of boss who's comfortable saying "yes, we're trying to cut benefits just because we think we can, not because we need to," your employees' ability to retire in the way they've worked for an planned just isn't something you give a damn about.Originally published here: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/09/13/1131437/-NFL-wants-to-freeze-referee-pensions-not-because-it-can-t-afford-them-but-because-it-thinks-it-can