March 5, 1995 in Sports

Teamsters Crossing The Line

Will Mcdonough Boston Globe

I’m confused by this Teamsters thing. Blue-collar guys throwing in with millionaires. Teamsters refusing to cross an alleged picket line, opting not to deliver products to Boston’s Fenway Park, and in doing so threatening to cost secretaries, ushers, vendors, blue-collar types of people money that they need to pay the bills and try to make a decent living.

What fools.

What did any major-league baseball player ever do for a Teamster? Do any Teamsters really think a baseball player would do the same for them? Think again.

Ballplayers crossed the picket line when the umpires were on strike. And now comes word that they don’t want to picket, they want to hire replacement pickets. Isn’t that a scream?

Maybe the local Teamsters need a lesson in history. Tom Yawkey and his wife, Jean, owned the Red Sox for more than 60 years. Yawkey told the people who ran the team for him, “I’m not looking to make money, but I don’t want to lose it, either.” His orders were: Put everything we make back into the team. Yawkey always treated the people who worked for him right. He treated Boston and New England right. To this day, he has never gotten the recognition he deserves.

He and his wife left estates that give away millions of dollars annually to charities and worthwhile causes around the Greater Boston area. Without Yawkey, there would have been no Jimmy Fund. His tradition continues.

John Harrington is not a millionaire. John Harrington’s father worked for the Massachusetts Transportation Authority. John Harrington’s goal with the Red Sox is not to get rich. He has been charged by the will of Jean Yawkey to continue running the team in their tradition - putting everything back into the organization in an attempt to win.

I wonder how some Teamster will feel standing outside Fenway Park picketing on behalf of the millionaire ballplayers, keeping some kid out of work who wants to make money to go to college. Does he want to believe that no sons or daughters of Teamsters made money working at Fenway Park?

“The issue for us,” says John Murphy, head of Local 122, who made the decision in Boston to picket the ballpark, “is using scab or replacement players. People have to realize that this is against all union principles, and this is what we are calling attention to. If the (striking) players want to get involved, we will have a large rally outside Fenway Park on Opening Day. If they do not, we will not. I do not like the idea of the players not being on the picket line. They should be there.”

Murphy acknowledges that the Players Association is not a union in a real sense, and he is not entirely comfortable with supporting people who make such big money. He says his real purpose is to use this situation to bring attention to the fact that “scabs or replacement workers” are being used against unions, not only in sports but in other businesses around the country.

In 1987, when the National Football League players went on strike, the Teamsters showed up to give support against replacement players at Foxboro, only to find that the Teamsters were doing the real picketing, and once the media disappeared, so did the players.

The Teamsters feel they need some publicity. I suggest they hire a public relations firm and stay out of sports.

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