Union Shill Ed Schultz: Unionized College Athletes Won't Strike

One of the most frequent laments from liberals is that the decline of unions has hurt American workers and our economy. And among the reasons that unions are in decline are dubious claims by liberals about them.

It's even worse when the person making the claim fancies himself an outspoken advocate for workers' rights and one who, not incidentally, is being abundantly compensated for his advocacy. (Audio after the jump)

On his radio show Thursday, Ed Schultz talked about a National Labor Relations Board ruling that Northwestern University football players are employed by the university and can unionize if the players vote in favor.

Several callers were critical of the decision, prompting Schultz to assuage their concerns with his stretch of an assertion (audio) --

SCHULTZ: Now, this is, this is big stuff. This isn't like they're, you know, going to go on strike or anything. This is going to force the hand of these major colleges who make billions of dollars as a conference and in the bowls and in the, well, the Final Four's going on, you know, pretty soon, the Sweet Sixteen ...

CALLER: I agree ...

SCHULTZ: ... I mean, this is, this is a revolutionary ruling when it comes to the labor market in this country and I find it fascinating, I really do.

This isn't like they're, you know, going to go on strike or anything -- a half truth, at best.

Half-truthful in the sense that Northwestern University football players are not now unionized and hence can't strike, though presumably enough of them could feign illness on any given weekend to prevent their team from playing, a strike in all but name.

But Schultz undermines his claim by what he says next -- "this is going to force the hand of these major colleges." And the best leverage for this, if the players voted to unionize, would be the threat of a strike.

For Schultz to claim unionized college athletes won't do so is akin to a salesman for the home security company boasting that his system provides the best protection ever, not that you'd ever need it. What would be the point of buying it?

It's possible that Northwestern football players, if they vote to unionize, would agree in future contracts that they won't strike. But that didn't stop air traffic controllers from striking in 1981, even though their contract forbade it since their work was essential to maintaining public safety. This can hardly be said of college football, nor would Northwestern players be considered public-sector employees since the university is privately owned, thus eliminating two potential hurdles if players wanted to strike.

The impulse to unionize while simultaneously surrendering a union's most powerful weapon to get its way are contradictory, and Schultz of all people should know this.

Jack Coleman
Liberated ex-liberal from the People's Republic of Massachusetts