You Have To Admire Their Dedication

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It's almost impossible for common wage earners to understand why men who make millions of dollars playing a boys game would want to strike.

But a walkout is exactly what the professional baseball players association plans to do Aug. 30. The players are apparently upset over management's desires to put in place a luxury tax on high-payroll teams.

Most of us are sickened by the thought of what we consider pampered, overpaid athletes going out on strike. We call them selfish money grabbers.

As despicable as a strike seems, there's a common thread running through those ball players that I find admirable: The players are united in their willingness to support the Major League Baseball Players Association to the bitter end.

When the strike vote was taken, the executive board of the players association voted 57-0 for the deadline.

When players are interviewed on television and for news articles, they appear to be 100 percent behind the strike. Outwardly, very little player opposition to the deadline is shown. The athletes' loyalty to the union, and its cause, simply does not waver.

Oh sure, there could be replacement players in case of a strike like there was in 1994. But those replacements could someday pay a price for their stepping over the line.

Some of the replacements from 1994 have gone on to nice careers in baseball. But they are not recognized by the union and not eligible for MLBPA pensions.

Simply put, not many professionals exhibit the type of loyalty that pro baseball players have shown.

As a young boy growing up in Ash Fork and Winslow, I witnessed just such a fierce loyalty to a worker's union.

My father, a longtime member of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, made a very nice living on the railroad despite the fact he had only an eighth-grade education. His devotion to that union and its principles never wavered.

Sometimes, he didn't agree entirely with the union but that didn't slow his devotion.

In college, when I thought I had grown smarter than my dad, I asked why he went along with union policies he did not entirely support. His reply: "I don't always agree with your mother, but that doesn't mean I stop believing in her."

During one labor dispute with management, I walked the picket line alongside my dad. If memory serves, National Guardsman were called to calm an escalating labor situation that was about to turn ugly. To the best of my recollection, the show of force didn't deter the railroaders' solidarity.

Heaven help the man who ever betrayed his fellow workers by crossing the B of LE picket line.

In today's society, the teaching profession cries long and loud about its poor stock.

But have teachers rallied around their unions as professional baseball players have done? Do teachers show the same dedication to a common cause that the railroad workers of the 1950s small town America did?

Heavens no.

There has never been in our profession unwavering support for the two teaching unions the National Education Association and American Federation of Teachers.

In 33 years of teaching, I've witnessed a union-organized group of teachers stand up once for what they considered an injustice. That was in the mid-1970s while I was teaching in Tempe. For the right to have a 30-minute duty free lunch hour, we walked the picket line in the early mornings and after school.

Not all teachers in Payson School District have 30-minute duty free lunch hours.

The impending strike by the ball players is almost impossible for wage earners to understand. But that doesn't mean we can't admire and respect the players for their unity and dedication to a common cause.

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