When Tom Brady leads the New England Patriots onto the field Thursday night it won’t be because his team needs him, or because he is fantastically talented, or because the fans want to see him play.
All of those things are true, but the real reason Tom Brady is going to play against the Pittsburgh Steelers is that he is a member of a union.
If Brady were like most American workers, he would be at the mercy of a boss who could decide to dump him at any time for any reason. Many workers might think they don't need the protection of a union because they are high performers, but that wouldn't have helped Brady. He’d just won the Super Bowl and his boss was going to take a month's pay from him based on flimsy evidence.
But because he was a member of a union, Brady was protected by a collective bargaining agreement that gave him enforceable rights that couldn’t be ignored.
That doesn’t mean he can't be fired. Football players lose their jobs all the time for playing badly or breaking rules. But their contract won’t let them be treated unfairly.
Brady was entitled to know in advance what the rules were and what the penalty for breaking them would be. And he had a right to challenge the evidence against him.
When the NFL failed to live up to its part of the agreement, Brady went to court and won, something he would not have been able to do without a contract.
That’s the kind of fair treatment we at the Guild are fighting for.
We want to work out an agreement with the company in which both sides fully understand what constitutes due process. We want to make sure that our members can’t be disciplined or lose their jobs without having a chance to defend themselves. We want to be able to take our case to a neutral arbitrator whenever we believe the company is not abiding by the rules it agreed to.
None of us can do what Tom Brady can do on the field, but all of us can have the same kind of protection he got from his collective bargaining agreement if we stick together.
That’s what it means to be in a union.