Skip to content

You can’t advocate for organized labor on Labor Day in a publicly-financed stadium

Sep 11, 2012, 2:30 PM EDT


I realize that Nats Park is private property and that the Nats can kick anyone out of it they want to. But this still feels wrong:

On Saturday, 17 union organizers with IAM District 4 attended the game, wearing t-shirts that encouraged Nationals Park’s 341 guest service workers to vote “Yes” in an upcoming union election. They claim security kicked them out for wearing the shirts. Two days later on Labor Day itself, another 4 union organizers wearing similar t-shirts were also kicked out.

We’ll take your money for our stadium — and we’ll push hard to make you have to pay for the Metro to run late to benefit us — but don’t you dare come in here and advocate for anything we don’t like!

Like I said: I know it’s legal. But I do think we have a fundamentally screwed up idea of what is public and what is private these days.  And it seems to me that if you want a private club, you should at least pay to build it.

And from last year — equally applicable this year — our reminder that Major League Baseball doesn’t much care for labor to begin with.

  1. goskinsvt - Sep 11, 2012 at 2:44 PM

    Notably missing from your article:

    “The Washington Nationals dispute Flanders’ version of events.

    ‘A few individuals who identified themselves as being with an organized group called IAM were asked to leave Nationals Park for violating multiple guest conduct policies, including soliciting persons inside the ballpark, taking unauthorized surveys inside the ballpark, engaging in unauthorized commercial activities inside the ballpark, disruptive behavior, [and] non-compliance with requests from authorized ballpark staff, security, and on-site police,” says Washington Nationals spokeswoman Lara Potter. “Such activities are prohibited within the ballpark, consistent with policies established by most professional sports facilities. Citizens wishing to engage in expressive conduct and/or unauthorized commercial activities may do so only outside of Nationals Park ticketed areas.'”

    • goskinsvt - Sep 11, 2012 at 2:47 PM

      Which do you think is the more likely scenario: They were kicked out for wearing t-shirts, or they were kicked out for “violating multiple guest conduct policies, including soliciting persons inside the ballpark, taking unauthorized surveys inside the ballpark, engaging in unauthorized commercial activities inside the ballpark, disruptive behavior, [and] non-compliance with requests from authorized ballpark staff, “?

    • kevinleaptrot - Sep 11, 2012 at 3:59 PM

      This is entirely plausible and reasonable. Go into any business these days, especially a large corporation, and you’ll see “No Soliciting” signs. They can’t single out labor and union groups for fear of being discriminatory, so they have a blanket ban on soliciting. It applies to everyone. Even union reps on Labor Day.

  2. pipkin42 - Sep 11, 2012 at 2:47 PM

    In America corporate welfare is the only appropriate welfare. It’s depressing.

  3. purnellmeagrejr - Sep 11, 2012 at 2:47 PM

    Great articvle Craig; I really don’t understand how a certain segment of our political people have managed to generate so much UNionHAte. after all, it amounts to getttting people making 15@hr jealous of people making 20@hr when the people they should be ticked at are the people skimmming huge amounts of cream right off the top for paper shufffling.- therebuy costing them the posssibility of a “living Wage.” I’m 60 so I know what that means – younger folks may have to look that one up.

    • stlouis1baseball - Sep 11, 2012 at 3:08 PM

      Or Purnell…it could be a case of people running their mouths about the amount of money they do (or don’t) bring home. I have been a Union employee, I have been a Salaried employee, I have been a Corporate level employee and now I am a business owner.
      The only “jealousy” I have ever witnessed (with regards to compensation) happened in three scenarios.
      The first scenario was when one of my Union brethren bragged about his hourly wage to co-workers.
      The second scenario was when one of my Union brethren openly stated (and bitched) about his hourly wage to co-workers.
      The third scenario was when one of my own hourly employees bragged about his hourly wage to co-workers.
      In every case…the hurt feelings were a result of someone opening up their trap.

      • brewcrewfan54 - Sep 11, 2012 at 3:38 PM

        In a union shop how are anyones co-workers oblivious to anothers wages? That information should be in their union contract for any employee to have available to them if they so choose.

      • stlouis1baseball - Sep 11, 2012 at 3:57 PM

        “In a union shop how are anyones co-workers oblivious to anothers wages? That information should be in their union contract for any employee to have available to them if they so choose.”
        Wonderful question Brew Crew.
        As you state…Union Pay scales are very much posted (in contracts) for fellow union members.
        Typically, it works like this.
        Jethro takes a skills test of some sort (or otherwise meets marks) that are tied to pay. Regardless of how “legitimate” these tests and/or marks are. He then gets his raise and rubs it in the face of his fellow employees.
        Now…you get several dozen (or hundred) fellow union members up in arms about Jethro’s pay…how the skills test is a joke…and how they could do what Jethro does while standing on their head singing God Bless America.

      • brewcrewfan54 - Sep 11, 2012 at 4:03 PM

        Well then Jetheo’s co-workers need to go pass the test Jethro did. One of the nice things about a union shop is promotions among the rank and file usually can’t fall under the good ole’ boy system. I know what everyone I work with makes as far as their base pay. If I want to make that money I need to get the same training they have. No reason to be jealous or angry because the opportunities should be on a level playing field.

      • stlouis1baseball - Sep 11, 2012 at 4:13 PM

        “No reason to be jealous or angry because the opportunities should be on a level playing field.”
        Absolutely. Then…you have those that call others a “suck ass” or other such nonsense for trying to better themselves. I put myself through school while working as a Union member.
        Believe me…that “suck ass” term flies all over the place.
        As they say…misery loves company.
        Another real life scenario:
        While still a probationary employee I had a team leader approach me and actually tell me I needed to slow down because I was making the other guys look bad. Mind you…all these other guys I was “making look bad” were full time card carrying Union Members.
        The team leader was a guy a few years older that I went to school with.
        For some reason…he liked me way back in the day and thought he would do me a “favor” by telling me to slow down.
        Yeah…all in the interest of “production.” Unions are awesome!

      • brewcrewfan54 - Sep 11, 2012 at 4:21 PM

        While everything about unions isn’t great they still do serve a purpose. I think people sometimes forget or just plain don’t know some of the good they do. That conversation though is for a different website.

    • bh0673 - Sep 11, 2012 at 3:43 PM

      Then of course by your reasoning it would be ok to raise the price of admission even higher so that the younger folks can’t even afford to go to the game. One thing we all miss while we are busy blaming corporate greed as the heart of the problem or not, the people who own the 30 major league teams put up the cash to buy those teams and in doing so can decide what cream they choose to skim or not (right or wrong). We on the other hand have the option of buying tickets or staying home and watching the game on TV. The people working the concessions also have a choice they can work at the stadiums or find work elsewhere that is the choice THEY made. The way I see it though is after I spend $100 plus for tickets to take my kid to a game, pay $35.00 to park my car and $7 to $10 for a sandwich and another $5 for a soda, I don’t really care anymore about what they make I worked hard on my own to find a job that pay’s me enough to be able to afford to go to the game just as those working the concessions have the right to work hard and find a better paying job on their own if they choose. A union does not have the right to come in and decide what someone should be earning when in the end I have to pay for it.

    • charlescub80 - Sep 11, 2012 at 9:37 PM

      Great article Craig? You don’t understand the union hate? well let me tell you purnell. Unions are now a business, all they care about is the bottom line. They just want as many members they can get to pay their union dues. 45 years ago this wasn’t the case and people needed unions for protection because the government didn’t have laws in place to protect people. Union can’t promise hire wages, better benefits, or job security. I’m half your age and didn’t need to look that up. Maybe you need to do better research?

      • pepefreeus - Sep 12, 2012 at 12:23 AM

        I’d be willing to bet that Craig has a hire IQ than you.

  4. pilonflats - Sep 11, 2012 at 2:58 PM

    can we please stop with the left wing propaganda? this is a baseball site, please keep politics out of it

    • The Common Man - Sep 11, 2012 at 3:01 PM

      Yes, because baseball never has anything to do with politics in this country. Except when it does. Which is a lot of the time, actually.

      • pilonflats - Sep 11, 2012 at 3:06 PM

        baseball has a lot to do with politics FOR YOU. for the rest of us, its an escape FROM politics

      • alang3131982 - Sep 11, 2012 at 3:14 PM

        What about when presidents/governors/senators throw out first pitches? Do you not attend games because of that?

        What about when mayors/governors make friendly wagers on sports, does that make you not want to watch the game.

        The mere fact that at least some people see a connection between politics and baseball means that there’s a connection for them. Since some of them are readers of this blog, it kind of makes sense that stories showing the connection between baseball and politics would be featured, since, again, some people see a connection between the two. Just because you dont see/want a connection doesnt make it disappear. you could simply not read the content, that should work.

        This also relates to the funding of baseball systems and the bath it appears local taxpayers who dont have as much money as the corporations or people who own ball clubs take. Recently there have been similar articles on the Nats stadium and (i believe) Miami that have discussed local ballparks and publicly funded parks. This is clearly in the same vein.

        In addition, the constitution allows for free assembly. It’s somewhat hypocritical and funny that the Nats stadium paid for my the citizens cannot be used by the citizens to express their viewpoints. it’s just funny, it’s not liberal or conservation, it’s just a hypocritical stance by MLB/the nats. Craig also went out of his way to point ou that the Nats were well within their rights. Sometimes all us regular folks (who paid for that stadium) got is poking a little fun at a bizarre system…

      • Old Gator - Sep 11, 2012 at 5:59 PM

        No, baseball has everything to do with unions and politics, from the contracts of the players and umpires right down to the funding mechanisms that get the ballparks built. Whether you may or may not want to see it, your self-imposed delusion that it isn’t there doesn’t make it invisible to the rest of us.

      • American of African Descent - Sep 11, 2012 at 9:45 PM

        Of course baseball — hell, sports, generally — has a lot to do with politics.

        Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier was almost as instrumental to desegregation as Brown v. Board of Ed. And you should smack your history teachers if you don’t think that desegregation was a charged issue at the time. Also, I concur and adopt Old Gator’s post as my own.

  5. natslady - Sep 11, 2012 at 3:07 PM

    Let me say this: I’m as liberal as they come, but when I’m at a baseball game, I want to watch a baseball game. I don’t want to be solicited to register to vote, organize a union or any other non-baseball activity. Period. It’s bad enough that even though I’m paying for my ticket I still have to see advertisements on the outfield wall, and hear endless promotions for a concert I won’t be attending.

    • wethog66 - Sep 11, 2012 at 3:25 PM

      You left out paying $30 for a beer, bottle of water, and two hot dogs to go along with advertisements and promotions. Thats why I haven’t been back to Nats Park since opening day. Cheaper to watch at home.

    • Ben - Sep 11, 2012 at 3:32 PM

      So that means no more jingoistic patriotic platitudes or self-righteous pieties about whatever feel-good cause celebre is in fashion that particular day, right? ’cause that shit is far more annoying than a few people wearing union t-shirts.

      • natslady - Sep 11, 2012 at 4:57 PM

        I do find that annoying. However, since September 11 (today, which is also my birthday) there is no avoiding it. I keep wondering how long for “God Bless America” every Sunday. I thought ten years would be enough, but apparently not.

  6. randygnyc - Sep 11, 2012 at 3:10 PM

    I think goskinsvt has set the record straight. Craig’s piece of Sh!t diary is propaganda of the most despicable kind. The only part of the story missing is how,these guys were beaten whilst being thrown out.

    • thefalcon123 - Sep 11, 2012 at 3:42 PM

      I’m truely amazed by the sheer number of apparently avid HardballTalk readers who absolutely hate HardBalltalk. I mean, I hate Slate…therefore I don’t read Slate.

      • kevinbnyc - Sep 11, 2012 at 4:23 PM

        I thought randy’s sarcasm was pretty evident.

  7. wethog66 - Sep 11, 2012 at 3:23 PM

    Nationals Park is owned and operated by the city of Washington, DC. I think that would make it public, not private, property. At least for a resident of Washington, DC who pays taxes. ;)

    Still, a sporting event is not the place for Union Folk to air their *****ing.

  8. randygnyc - Sep 11, 2012 at 3:24 PM

    Craig PURPOSELY omitted the actions of the union members that were ultimately responsible for their ejection. The obfuscation is despicable.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Sep 11, 2012 at 3:26 PM

      Or you could, you know, actually read the linked articles.

      • goskinsvt - Sep 11, 2012 at 3:32 PM

        Yeah, I don’t think Craig is despicable by any means (I think he’s one of the best baseball bloggers around), I just think some additional context should have been added. nbd.

      • pilonflats - Sep 11, 2012 at 3:33 PM

        providing a link doesnt mean its ok to misrepresent the article for your own political reasons

      • delawarephilliesfan - Sep 11, 2012 at 4:06 PM

        Have to agree with pilon – that is a very weak come back to say the links mitigate the tone and substance of the post

        e.g. “Craig always write mean nasty stuff about the Phillies. He always insults their fans, and loves seeing them lose”

        I can not now claim I gave some even handed account based on the link I just provided.

    • stlouis1baseball - Sep 11, 2012 at 3:32 PM

      It makes for a better read Randy (and more clicks of course).

    • kevinbnyc - Sep 11, 2012 at 4:55 PM

      I guess randy wasn’t being sarcastic before.

  9. brent4033 - Sep 11, 2012 at 3:41 PM

    Unions are a large part of the problem in these days and I think it is a joke that they are still around so I dont want to go to a game and have their garbage shoved down my throat. I also dont want to see any causes I care about shoved down my throat either. Just like when I try to look at sports crap and the liberals are spoutin off about their unions. Look at the auto industry, hmmmmm failing cause of unions because people get paid way to damn much. If yhou earn it you should get paid for it but lazy SOB shouldnt get the same money because he is in some union. What a joke! Talk sports dont come push your little agendas, WE KNOW YALL ARE LIBERAL you dont have to shove it down our flippin throats. Would you write this article if people with anti union shirts were kicked out? Doubt it

    • thefalcon123 - Sep 11, 2012 at 3:44 PM

      ” Look at the auto industry, hmmmmm failing cause of unions because people get paid way to damn much.”

      I’m just going to stare at this comment for a while and marvel at how astoundingly simplistic some people’s brains are.

    • bh0673 - Sep 11, 2012 at 3:48 PM

      Would you write this article if people with anti union shirts were kicked out? Doubt it

      The last line is a good point

    • American of African Descent - Sep 11, 2012 at 9:52 PM

      I don’t know that I’ve ever seen an “anti union” shirt, although that’s probably because management doesn’t go out and protest union activity. (Can you imagine a factory foreman or a corporate board marching down Broadway chanting “We are management. Mighty mighty management”? It would be ridiculous!)

      But let’s try an experiment. Go to a ball game, wear a shirt that is critical of unions, call attention to yourself, get yourself thrown out of the game, and see what kind of media coverage you get.

  10. randygnyc - Sep 11, 2012 at 3:48 PM

    Falcon123- I think you’re confused about what we hate. I don’t hate HBT. I hate liberals.

    • thefalcon123 - Sep 11, 2012 at 4:06 PM

      Hey Randy,

      Here’s where we differ. I *disagree*, strenuously, which the ideology proposed by most conservatives. I think a woman’s body is her business, we are all together in society and share in it’s success and failing, etc etc, add in what ever else you want.

      I think conservatives are often extremely naive about the way the world works, have a bad tendency to ignore facts that don’t perfectly fit into their ideology ( [though I'm certain any conservative who reads this will just ignore and dismiss it, thus proving the study's point]) and in a broad sense, don’t seem to give two shits about anyone outside of their own inner circle.

      That being said, these are their political beliefs. Disagree with them though I might, I actually have a few that I consider to be amongst my friends. It takes a special kind of piece of shit to make a blanket statement about hating a loose group of people held together by a *vaguely* common ideology.

      I’m sure this is just internet flaming going on here and you’re not this much of a tragic asshole in your real life, I will conclude my statement to randy with this line: You’re a jerk Randy. A real knee-biter.

      • humanexcrement - Sep 11, 2012 at 10:04 PM

        Conservatives have this idea that their opinions and beliefs are the default position, and the way everyone is supposed to think, and that liberals are these ratlike deviant immoral people who just want to overhaul America and pervert it from the conservative Christian state that it’s supposed to be. Our government is intended to give everyone a voice, so we can have honest discourse from people of all political ideologies, decide what kind of government we want and vote accordingly. But in the conservative mind, everyone is supposed to be a heterosexual republican christian and anytime the democratic process is employed to enact some law they don’t like, it’s unamerican and our system is being hijacked by immoral unamerican socialist communist homosexual atheist babykillers who want to destroy america. I love this country, but people who can’t accept diversity of opinion, of religion (or lack of religion), language, sexuality and ethnicity really drive me up the wall. But then again, I’m just trying to destroy America with my liberal bullshit, ‘cus that’s what I do.

      • cosanostra71 - Sep 11, 2012 at 11:09 PM

        “I think conservatives are often extremely naive about the way the world works, have a bad tendency to ignore facts that don’t perfectly fit into their ideology”

        Sort of like Craig did in this post?

  11. jaydoubleyou22 - Sep 11, 2012 at 4:36 PM

    I really like the functionality of the HBT App, but stories like this that–let’s face it–are either (1) substance-free, designed with the sole purpose of igniting political tensions to drive traffic to the website or, worse yet, are (2) intended to mislead readers and make an erroneous and biased political point, really make me want to delete it.

    And since I know you read the comments based on your own ridiculous comment/justification about linking to a real news story… Craig, in the future, please leave the Bolshevik propaganda at home. Red is an ugly color on you. Thanks in advance, db.

  12. jaydoubleyou22 - Sep 11, 2012 at 4:54 PM

    I had to laugh when I came across this quote from Calcaterra in an unrelated blog post in which he was attacking a real journalist for his support for Alfonso Soriano as an NL MVP candidate: “If you think those things, your baseball analysis is severely wanting. If you don’t, and you’re just throwing that stuff out there because you have a column to write, than you’re being dishonest with your readers. Either way: bad times.”

    Which kind of bad times are we having here, Craigy?

  13. jlinatl - Sep 11, 2012 at 5:14 PM

    God, it’s difficult being the last moderate standing.

    Not only was Craig’s article written to draw ire on both sides. I’m going to go out on a limb and say the union organizers’ strategy to wear the shirts was more about the potential publicity and subsuquent pressure than about garnering votes of the stadium workers that might see them.

  14. randygnyc - Sep 11, 2012 at 10:28 PM

    Humanexcrement- “so we can have honest discourse”. If you think Craig’s article was an honest accounting of the facts, you’re the delusional one. Had it been, the conversation would have been much different. Typical liberal, scumbag deceit.

  15. jaydoubleyou22 - Sep 12, 2012 at 2:08 AM

    “I’d be willing to bet that Craig has a hire IQ than you”

    If he does, that makes the post that much more appalling. It’s one thing to mislead people out of ignorance, but to do it willingly–that’s the kind of stuff that gets you fired.

  16. noozehound - Sep 12, 2012 at 3:24 AM

    you should preface every post you make with “i’m a raging lefty liberal and I’ll find any spin I can in every story I write.”

  17. charlescub80 - Sep 12, 2012 at 5:02 AM

    I’d be willing to bet pepefreeus has a lower IQ than anyone making a comment on this board. So what does a higher IQ have to do with this? What is your point? Are you saying someone with a higher IQ is right? I’m sorry did you already forget what we were even talking about?

  18. recoveringcubsfan - Sep 12, 2012 at 6:51 AM

    I am unclear on the concept inherent in Craig’s post that unions = the public. That’s a pretty big assumption – or call it an outright laugher. Public money built the stadium, OK. Union members are part of the public, OK. Most of the public isn’t in any union and most of the money for the stadium didn’t come from unions, so…what’s your point, Craig? Or are we lefties just supposed to get riled up because we naturally identify with labor?

    Why isn’t this article about the lack of signs in Braille all over the park – I bet more of the population is blind than in a union. (For the record, this is a silly hypothetical example to make a point; I think all the signs at Nats Park are in Braille, too.)

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Featured video

Pitching vs. history in NL wild card game
Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. D. Jeter (2954)
  2. R. Martin (2262)
  3. A. Rodriguez (2008)
  4. D. Gordon (1950)
  5. J. Altuve (1924)
  1. J. Hamilton (1865)
  2. C. Kershaw (1841)
  3. E. Volquez (1699)
  4. M. Shoemaker (1655)
  5. I. Suzuki (1627)