Saturday, October 14, 2017

If The NFL Mandingo Rebellion Goes To The Mats - It'll Be Complicated



Counterpunch  |  Do employers have the right to force their employees to participate in ritual displays of patriotism?

Many people think they do. Many people think that owners of football teams have the right to make their players stand at attention during the National Anthem.

But if bosses can require their employees stand for the anthem, then what’s to stop them from making them say a prayer too?  It’s the same thing, isn’t it? In both cases, employees are being compelled to conform to behavior that may or may not be consistent with their own beliefs. How does that square with the First amendment or is that rule no longer applicable?

Here’s how the Supreme Court came down on the matter:
“The constitutionally guaranteed ‘freedom to be intellectually … diverse or even contrary,’ and the ‘right to differ as to things that touch the heart of the existing order,’ encompass the freedom to express publicly one’s opinions about our flag, including those opinions which are defiant or contemptuous.”
Supreme Court of the United States in Street v. New York (1969)
Of course, that doesn’t explain whether employees have the right to express their beliefs freely in the workplace or not. That’s an entirely different question, and it’s one that has been answered differently by the owners and the players union. According to MSN News:
“A labor union that represents workers in Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana has filed a charge alleging that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has violated the National Labor Relations Act with his threats to discipline players if they protest during the national anthem. Local 100 of the United Labor Unions filed the complaint Tuesday with the Fort Worth, Texas, office of the National Labor Relations Board. It asks the NLRB to “investigate preemptively in order to prevent illegal firings of players.”
Wade Rathke, chief organizer of Local 100, accuses Jones of violating the act, which prohibits employers from intimidating or threatening workers for their “concerted activity.”

Rathke said the NFL has already established that there is no condition of work that requires players to stand during the anthem. He said players have the right to protest and act concertedly at their workplace – the playing field. Jones is violating the act by attempting to prevent them from doing so, he said. (“Labor union files complaint against Jerry Jones over anthem threat “, MSN News)
“You can’t discipline somebody for something that is a right they have under the law, whether that discipline be termination or benching or giving a slap on the wrist or writing up in their files they’ve been a bad boy,” Rathke told ESPN. “I know in the modern age people think workers shouldn’t have rights, but they still do.”  Fist tap Rohan.