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


NFL’s new Personal Conduct Policy

Saturday, December 20th, 2014

Poor (salary $44 million) NFL Commissioner Goodell. He has been castigated for his inconsistency of applying standards across teams and individual players, plagued by accusations that team owners interfered with criminal investigations, and hounded, and eventually reversed, by critics for overstepping his authority when leveling draconian punishment against domestic abuser Ray Rice. His incomplete response to the Miami Dolphins bullying scandal was to mandate a lame 1 hour “education session” held in each team’s locker room about respect. Half-ass solutions seem to be the NFL’s history.

In the aftermath of a spate of domestic violence incidents by NFL players and the assembly of a team of external experts in DV prevention comes a new NFL Personal Conduct Policy.

As the expert called in to assist Jonathan Martin’s legal team and to advise Ted Wells, the NFL’s investigator of the abuse levied by three of Martin’s teammates, I heard repeatedly the NFL mantra of “Protect the Shield.” The NFL logo is a shield of sorts and everyone affiliated with the NFL knows that the league of owners takes extraordinary steps to protect its commercial brand, often at the expense of its players without whom there would be no league.

Guided by the “Protect the Shield” principle, NFL commissioners and executives historically ignore player safety for the sake of the game. Witness tthe 2014 settlement of the lawsuit with thousands of former player-plaintiffs accusing the NFL of ignoring known neurological health hazards to which they were exposed causing them to suffer CTE. The settlement temporarily silenced complainants and allowed the NFL to roll into the 2014 season without the cloud of litigation overhead.

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Progress by workers against McDonald’s for higher wages

Saturday, December 20th, 2014

The NLRB (National Labor Relations Board) ruled that McDonald’s, the corporation, acting through its franchisees, violated the rights of its workers who were protesting for higher wages, specifically a $15 hourly wage.

Fast food workers have increasingly and visibly been conducting protests for higher wages and better working conditions for the past two years. Local owners of McDonald’s franchises have retaliated against those workers with punishment by reducing hours, threats, surveillance, interrogations and restrictions on talking with union organizers, and terminations.

Advocates for the workers filed 291 charges against corporate McDonald’s. The NRLB found merit in 78 of them while others are still under investigation.

Corporate McDonald’s claims it has no control over what local owners do. It wants to dodge responsibility for the denial of workers rights. However, the NLRB agreed with groups like Jobs With Justice that the corporation dictates to franchisees very detailed operating standards to maintain consistency across various McDonald’s locations.

So, when a local McDonald’s punishes workers for protesting peacefully and acting together to improve their work lives it is now assumed that the local owner is acting as an agent for the corporate McDonald’s. The NLRB ruled that the franchisees are joint owners.

Regional hearings are set to begin in early 2015 with a settlement deadline of March 30, 2015.

You can find the list of actual cases here.

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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.

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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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