Workers’ Plight

by August 12, 2011

by Chris Haynes / @ChrisBhaynes

As the NBA lockout continues to go strong, some players have expressed the willingness to play overseas next season rather than losing a season without pay. Ultimately, the players aren’t going to suffer, as they have options. The people who will suffer are those such as Ed McLean.

McLean, 33, works security for the Portland Trail Blazers’ home games. In fact, McLean works two jobs. He’s a graduate student at Multnomah University in Portland, OR, and works as a server in the school’s kitchen. This job allows him to pay for his tuition and books with free meals being one of the perks. His security job with the Blazers pays his rent, or so it used to.

“I receive about $300 a month working at the Rose Quarter, it’s not much, but I rely on that to pay my rent,” said McLean. “It’s unfortunate because I think workers like me are coming up with the short end of the stick with these NBA negotiations.”

It’s hard for a blue collar worker such as McLean to come to grips with owners and players arguing and bickering over millions of dollars while he and others stress on how they’re going to make ends meet.

What gets lost in these labor talks are the security workers, the concession workers, guest services, the ball boys, and the custodians who depend on 40-plus home games to get them by.

McLean’s schedule is setup just the way he wants it. He goes to school and works at the school during the day then he’s off to work doing security at night. Doesn’t have much spending money and he prefers it that way. He’s two semesters away from receiving a master’s in marriage and family counseling and he’s never taken a loan out from school, which is why it’s vital for him that he stays employed to keep it that way.

“I’m not taking out any loans,” said McLean. “I took a semester off of school to work and save up money in order to pay for school. Hopefully, I will be able to find some work quickly if this lockout is real.”

His boss has tried to assure the company that they will try to keep them busy by scheduling concerts and events but they clearly can’t fill the consistency that Blazers’ home games provides.

“I’m 50-50 on a season happening. I listen to NBA news and it sounds like a season is not going to happen,” said McLean. “I feel sorry for my co-workers with families who are going crazy over this uncertainty.”

Luckily right now, McLean is single and has no one to support but himself, but there are those who have families with unbelievable stories who are distraught over what’s taking places.

NBA owners and players are fine with playing the waiting game because no games are supposed to be played at this current time. But with each going day, families are suffering and panicking as the time approaches for basketball to be played and there very well may be no basketball. This means, no work.

“It’s definitely a scary time,” said McLean. “I just hope that the NBA would think about the little people who make things run and come together to end this lockout.”

People are being laid off throughout the League due to the lockout and more are soon to follow at this rate. These negotiations are essentially about revenue sharing, but if this lockout goes the distance, the NBA could lose a bulk of its fan base and there wouldn’t be much revenue to share.

It took MLB a long time to garner its fans back after the ’94-95 lockout, and if it wasn’t for steroid-filled home runs, they might not have never recovered.

The NBA could be facing that same scenario in the face if they don’t do their fans, and most importantly, their blue collar workers right.