Archive for the ‘Employers Gone Wild: Doing Bad Things’ Category


Mediators don’t belong in workplace bullying arena

Monday, November 3rd, 2014

We have long said that mediation is the wrong tool to resolve workplace bullying problems. Mediators are inserting themselves into bullying in growing numbers as if the situations originated in traditional conflict. But bullying involves violence (non-physical varieties), an unequal level of power (real or perceived), and contempt by one person for the other. No serious problem solver believes a credible and fair middle ground can be found. Why further compromise the already compromised target? It is cruel.

A reporter tipped me off to the spring 2014 GitHub scandal. One of the former co-founders, Tom Preston-Werner, had given his CEO position to the other co-founder, Chris Wanstrath in January. GitHub engineer, Julie Ann Horvath, alleged sexual harassment by one of the company founders and his wife and quit. The wife’s threats (of informing husband’s decision making, of engaging spies at company, and intimidating and verbally attacking her) might have been more bullying than harassment, given its same-gender nature. The venture capitalist who invested $100 million in GitHub defended Preston-Werner. Preston-Werner resigned. Wanstrath cleared Preston-Werner of illegal harassment but did say “mistakes” were made.

Of interest to us here at WBI are the tweets Horvath sent recalling the actions of the GitHub-paid mediator who obviously was sent to protect GitHub.

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Ray Rice as victim of domestic violence strains credulity

Monday, September 29th, 2014

Ray Rice, the most visible perpetrator of partner violence in recent times, is now pivoting to a new explanation — he was the victim.

Does it happen? Yes. In fact, males are sometimes victimized, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics report Intimate Partner Violence in the United States. See the graphic. It’s just that it is extremely rare.

If the football player was abused by his then-girlfriend, then why did he agree to stay with her, eventually marrying her? What is wrong with him? Why was he drawn to such a violent woman? Didn’t he know there are plenty of alternative relationships out there waiting to happen for him? Blah, blah, blah — all the same folderol and stupid questions that abused women must endure.

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Meggyesy: Fear and Violence in the NFL

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

By David Meggyesy, former seven year linebacker with the St. Louis football Cardinals, author of a best-selling football autobiography, Out of Their League. Meggyesy is board President of Athletes United for Peace and is the former Western Regional Director of the NFL Players Association (NFLPA). Essay originally posted on Social Justice on 9/17/2014.

“The only reason parents hit their children is because they can get away with it.” — A. S. Neill, Summerhill

As a physically abused child, as many of us are, I read the above quote as a young adult, then the parent of a three year old son and a professional football player with the St. Louis Football Cardinals. It was an epiphany, and I never forgot it. Certainly there were times when I was angry, feeling unsure of myself and demanding some kind of control in my life. Hey I could take it out on my “out of control“ son and say to myself “he deserved it”. However that Neill observation made so much sense I decided to break the chain and I never physically assaulted my children.

The issue is again news, with the former Baltimore Raven NFL player Ray Rice, who is shown punching and knocking out his girlfriend and dragging her unconscious body out of an elevator, Adrian Peterson, star running back with the Minnesota Vikings drawing blood beating his four year old son with a switch. This gender and child abuse is not endemic to athletes who play professional football. It is a social epidemic. Given the media power of the NFL it’s a good thing that this kind of abuse is again thrown up in our collective face.

(more…)

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ESPN critics of NFL model how DC pundits should criticize US gov’t

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act. George Orwell

There’s a level of refreshing level of candor about Roger Goodell, NFL Commissioner, from two ESPN employees — Keith Olbermann and Bill Simmons — rarely spoken today in mainstream media (and ESPN is certainly mainstream). It’s all the more remarkable when you learn that ESPN pays the NFL $15 billion to televise Monday Night Football. So, ESPN critics could be seen as biting the hand that feeds them, but these two pundits show tremendous courage in calling out the NFL mismanagement of its current domestic violence crisis.

Bill Simmons is the writer who started Grantland (an ESPN Internet Venture) and has been an ESPN superstar. For his calling Goodell a liar, he earned a 3 week suspension. The Simmons B.S. Podcast from which the audio came was pulled from the Grantland website by ESPN. Here is the audio that got him into trouble.

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Also brave were ESPN writers, Don Van Natta, Jr. and Keith Van Valkenburg, who wrote an extraordinary investigative Outside the Lines article that revealed that Goodell and the Baltimore Ravens ownership colluded with Ray Rice’s attorney to cover up his domestic violence incident. Then, both Goodell and Ravens owner, Steve Bisciotti, lied about their knowledge of it. Very Nixonian of the NFL.

The OTL article title

Despite ESPN silencing Simmons and reportedly wordsmithing the OTL article with some deletions, many critics on the network are jabbing the NFL. Critics are the only ones who can hold institutions accountable.

Why do we not see the same drive to be candid from the Washington DC beltway political pundits? Their relationships with the “newsmakers” is way too cozy. Reporter would rather ingratiate themselves with the people they are paid to hold accountable. Kissing up and comfort prevent truthtelling. The result — America is in a new war while still fighting the old one with public support.

After all …

All governments are run by liars and nothing they say should be believed. I.F. Stone

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ISLE Symposium panel on Bullying and the Locker Room Culture of Performance

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

The Fifth Annual Sports Law and Ethics Symposium at Santa Clara University was hosted by the Institute of Sports Law and Ethics on Sept 11, 2014. Below is video of the panel

Bullying and the Locker Room Culture of Performance

Panelists:

• Jim Thompson, founder of the Positive Coaching Alliance an organization dedicated to transforming all youth sports into positive, character-building experiences

William Pollack, PhD, Harvard Medical School clinical psychologist and author of Real Boys: Rescuing Our Sons from the Myths of Boyhood

Brandi Chastain, U.S. Olympic and World Cup women’s soccer champion turned advocate for youth safety in soccer

• Gary Namie, PhD, Workplace Bullying Institute Director, educating the audience about adult bullying in the workplace and its overlap with the Jonathan Martin/NFL case.

Pictured from left to right: Brandi Chastain, William Pollack, Gary Namie

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Greedy management locks out Atlanta Symphony musicians

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

The Board and management of the Atlanta Symphony repeated their 2012 tactic of locking out their musicians and canceling concerts. In 2012, 95 musicians agreed to be shrunk to 88 accepted a 15% cut in pay and 10 weeks of no pay to help the organization after a 1-month lockout. The CEO Stanley Romanstein then promised the compromises would be a one-time cut. The symphony is part of a larger organization the Woodruff Arts Center with CEO Virginia Hepner. The WAC boasts of reducing its deficits but wants further cuts that jeopardize the integrity of the once-great ASO that was led by Robert Shaw as artistic director for 21 years (1967-1988).

Now just days prior to the 2014 season’s start, the musicians are locked out again. The lock out (not a work stoppage or strike by the players association) was ordered by Romanstein despite the symphony ending its most recent fiscal year on target and within its budget. Essentially, the lockout is an “austerity” move by management to force employees to bear all hardships while deficits are cut.

Lock outs, undertaken entirely by ownership, are attempts to portray the musicians as greedy belligerent workers. Romanstein wants to reduce the size of the orchestra further, shrinking it well below other “world-class” symphonies.

Remarkably, the conductor Donald Runnicles and music director Robert Spano wrote in a public letter:

The lockout is essentially the board and management punishing the orchestra: it means they have no access to the place where they work, where they make music; it means their health costs are not going to be paid. And what on earth has that punishment got to do with two invested parties in a discussion-finding consensus? It’s a one-sided attempt to force the orchestra to its collective knees. It also paints the orchestra as this intransigent group of musicians. But in fact they have shown extraordinary willingness to come to a common agreement, as what happened two years ago proves. The fact that it should have come to a lockout again is simply devastating.

The contract is negotiated between WAC/ASO and the ASO Players Association. Paul Murphy is president of the union and claims the major disagreement is about the size of the future orchestra. If too small, the ASO “cannot function in the first league of orchestras.”

CBS46 News

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Santa Clara Sports Law & Ethics Symposium and the NFL

Thursday, September 18th, 2014

WBI proudly participated in the Fifth Annual Sports Law and Ethics Symposium at Santa Clara University on Sept. 11 hosted by the Institute of Sports Law and Ethics. Planning for the event preceded the NFL inadequate handling of the multiple domestic violence incidents by player-employees. But the symposium was immersed in the headlines of the day.

Gary Namie, WBI Director, joined a panel exploring Bullying and the Locker Room Culture. My contribution was to educate the audience about adult bullying in the workplace and overlap with the Jonathan Martin/NFL case. Esteemed colleagues on the panel included

Brandi Chastain, U.S. Olympic and World Cup women’s soccer champion turned advocate for youth safety in soccer

William Pollack, PhD, Harvard Medical School clinical psychologist and author of Real Boys: Rescuing Our Sons from the Myths of Boyhood

• Jim Thompson, founder of the Positive Coaching Alliance an organization dedicated to transforming all youth sports into positive, character-building experiences

Watch the 85 min. video of the panel.

Paraag Marathe, President of the 49ers of the NFL opened the Symposium. He refused to address the then-current domestic abuser Ray McDonald presented for the team. I was able to ask if the integrity and character of players was part of the recruitment and hiring process. He emphatically said that players with skills but no integrity had a place on the 49ers roster. He also cited the extensive psychological testing that all potential player-employees face. Hmm.

KPIX-TV San Francisco coverage of the Symposium

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Dr. Namie on Labor Pains Podcast

Saturday, September 13th, 2014

Listen to Dr. Gary Namie be interviewed by Larry Buhl on the Labor Pains Podcast. The program covers workplace issues of today and tomorrow. Here Gary and Larry talk about workplace bullying and the NFL.

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See more Labor Pains Podcasts here.

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The NFL Shield: Tarnished Symbol of Corporate CYA

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

The NFL — the No Effin’ Liability league for the boys of football — has struck again. As a multi-billion dollar enterprise (owned by revered American entrepreneurs — celebrities themselves who own celebrity labor), the league of owners of American professional football has shown itself to be incredibly inept. Their mouthpiece, the “commish” Roger Goodell seems driven solely to protect the NFL brand. He certainly is not a competent CEO though paid $44.2 million per year to be incompetent. I’m not sure he could work the drive-thru at McDonalds — it’s too fast moving and accuracy matters.

You see Roger got caught crafting corporate policy in a very public way, then revising it to be more punitive publicly, only to get caught acting unilaterally and reflexively, all the while completely ignoring his own stated “policy.” The man doesn’t know “strategery,”willing to act without thinking.

Ray Rice, star player for the Baltimore Ravens, was caught on a New Jersey casino hotel security video entering an elevator with this then-fiance, Janay Palmer. That same camera caught him dragging an unconscious Janay from the elevator minutes later.

Conclusion to be drawn by any reasonable person: Rice struck Palmer in the elevator. Local law enforcement, the district attorney and the judge seemed to believe an unknown third person must have assaulted her in the elevator. Charges were dismissed. The NFL also engaged in such magical thinking. Goodell was allowed to assume that if the courts didn’t care to protect Palmer and jail Rice, the Ravens and NFL had little to worry about. And the only worry for the team and league is LEGAL liability. Just protect the shield, baby (tip to Al Davis).

Goodell decided that he had better punish Rice in some way. He grazed him with a 2-game suspension. Even within the NFL’s hierarchy of punishments, the penalty was light as compared to a pot smoking 6-game suspension. The inequity was obvious to all immediately but not to Goodell. Weeks later, he publicly declared that a domestic violence first-time violation committed by a player (nothing said about the distinction between proof, accusation, arrest, indictment or conviction) would draw a 6-game penalty. What to do with Rice retroactively? Suddenly two new domestic violence cases emerged with San Francisco and Carolina players. What to do? Goodell waited.

Into the breach strode that paragon of journalism, TMZ, with the missing link — video from the elevator. At last, Goodell could see what had actually happened between the video sequences taken outside the elevator. He rapidly, within the day, compelled the Ravens team to fire Rice and the NFL suspended Rice indefinitely (which in the past has always been the route to redemption and restoral of playing privileges).

Goodell expected praise. Instead, there have been calls for his head. ESPN talking head, attorney, and former NFL quarterback Steve Young opined that the Ravens should have acted like a responsible corporate employer and sent Rice home without pay pending an investigation.

I’ll let ESPN’s Keith Olbermann explain why Goodell and the Ravens and county officials screwed up. He calls for mass resignations. Obermann says Goodell “comforted the violent and afflicted the victim” and is an “enabler of men who beat women.”

As an institution, the NFL is screwy. The people in charge seem incapable of owning the responsibility for what they have done. It’s all deflection and denial. Just protect the shield, baby.

It’s corporate CYA!

Coming: Part II — The NFL’s Personnel Problem

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Two tales for 2014 Labor Day

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

Happy Labor Day. Two tales about unionism. Abraham Lincoln said it best:

Labor is the superior of capital and deserves much the higher consideration.

Good news in an unexpected place: Workers at the Chattanooga, Tennessee Volkswagen auto manufacturing plant have created UAW Local 42 to represent workers. The company is expected to recognize the union once a threshold number of workers join the union. The company favored the union in the Feb. 2014 election. Outside Tennessee politicians fought hard to defeat the union winning the support of workers to keep Tennessee hostile to unions. It is a “right to work” state.

Bad news where least expected: Amazon fights its workers’ right to unionize in Germany, a union-friendly country. Along with GMO and fast food, another horrible American export — anti-unionism!

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Remember without workers CEOs would have no income and investors would have no companies to push to their limits of productivity.

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