Union Don’ts, Part II

Brian Gunn at Redbird Nation points us to this statement by Harvard Law prof Paul Weiler – a labor law expert who teaches a seminar on sports law at HLS and had written a textbook on the subject – on the A-Rod mess:
It’s a basic feature of collective bargaining that’s to stop the bosses from insisting that one of the workers take less money in order to keep a job, . . . The difference is, he’s not a nurse making $22,000 a year, he’s making 22 million bucks a year. But it is that basic principle that they want to adhere to.
Professor Weiler either misses several key points or at least is quoted in a way that obscures them; the difference here is a lot more significant than the money:
1. Unlike your typical employee working under a collective bargaining agreement, A-Rod has a guaranteed contract. Thus, the Rangers may threaten his ability to keep his job, but they can’t take away his $25 million salary.
2. A-Rod didn’t agree to less money to keep his job; he agreed to it to take a better job, with a winning team in a big market.
If accepting less money to play for a winner was good enough for Michael Jordan, why can’t Rodriguez be allowed to do the same thing? Frankly, the idea that this will lead teams to screw their players out of contracts isn’t persuasive; few teams can afford to just punitively bench a guy who is a good player making millions a year, and if they cut him, he can sign elsewhere and keep the money. The parade of horribles presented by the union just bears no relationship to the real world of Major League Baseball.
The owners have been in the wrong on many occasions in baseball, but this isn’t one of them.