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Old Wed Apr 17, 2002, 06:38am
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Location: Newburgh NY
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We have had 2 disturbing threads recently. One by Jackie concerning Descrimination and one by ex-blue where he got hosed which leads me to the point of my thread.

Like MLB - should we as amateurs form a union instead of being independent contractors and simply belonging to an association?

With the exception of assigning games and providing some training what do associations really do for us anyway?
When's the last time you jumped for joy because an association meeting was coming up.

When you get to HS varsity right up through college the coaches have a say in who does their games. They should have input, but associations shouldn't be like puppets either and simply say yes sir/mam all the time.

We already pay dues (association FEES), have to attend meetings (similar to attending union meetings), so in a way we are "like" a union but are not "protected" like we are a union.

Ok I know Richie Phillips screwed up, but unions have certain rights that we do not have. We would be treated more like employess rather than contractors.

I know the draw-back of being treated like employees - TAXES However, I think that's the only drawback and if we belong to a union, the FEES would be grossed-up so that in the end we do not lose out. In other words higher FEES to compensate for the add'l taxes we would be required to pay.

What do you think? What are the PROS / CONS of being a union vs. the way we are now?

I look forward to your input?

Pete Booth
Peter M. Booth
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  #2 (permalink)  
Old Wed Apr 17, 2002, 08:12am
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Location: Birmingham, Alabama
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Unions have their downside, too, and I'm not sure fully unionized umpires for amateur baseball and softball wouldn't be opening a can full of many, many worms. I suspect that associations could and should take stronger stands, though. Some associations do not let coaches dictate to them; some refuse to send people to leagues who don't discipline unruly players; some make sure charges are brought when a player threatens an umpire; some communicate well with schools and municipalities to make their needs known. Certainly the associations should protect members in instances like the recent outrages posted here.
More whiskey—and fresh horses for my men!
Roll Tide!
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  #3 (permalink)  
Old Wed Apr 17, 2002, 08:46am
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Peter: I can see your point as to how unions could be helpful, however, in my area it would probably be a lot of expense for little gain. First of all, we already receive the highest pay I have heard about for HS. Some other areas get way less than my state. The downside: our associations have no evaluation process, no rating, no advancement due to improvement and hard work. Actually, the assignors are separate from the associations, and just draw their officials from them with no sense of who has ability or not. If you don't open your mouth and complain, you could be doing division four HS JV/FR for ten years.
There is no system of fairness in place at all. For example, a new umpire joined our asso. last year (he does have some experience from out-of-state), and he was assigned a slate of 18 varsity games this season, sight unseen. He was "hooked up" with one of the good 'ol boys(and I do mean old). How T'd off do you think that makes umps who have been members for 6-10 years?

I would be in favor of a union if it could help make game assignmens more equitible. However, from what I understand, most areas already have evaluation systems in place, without unions. I already report my officiating income, so the taxes aren't an issue with me. Stirring up the pot and demanding evaluations and assignments according to ability and seniority is what needs to be done here (with or without a union), but I'm not sure if I have the gumption to be the instigator. Politics and assigning their old buddies will be difficult to reduce here, let alone eliminate.
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Old Wed Apr 17, 2002, 10:09am
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I am confused. Since when do unions actually employ people. Even if I belonged to an umpire union I still have to find an employer. The employer would be my local assignor, local association, set of high scools, a baseball league. If add a union, we have added another group where politics is involved.

My point of view is that if you are unhappy with your working conditions take actions to change it. If as an individual you are unable to make the necessary changes, then I would l would consider changing my expectations about working conditions.
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Old Wed Apr 17, 2002, 02:01pm
Michael Taylor
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I would say unions for amatuers would be a terrible idea. First off we are already facing the elimination of JV sports in our area now. The raising of fees to cover dues would shut it down. Our local HS's have already agreed to raising our rates $10.00 for varsity and $15.00 for JV. That puts us at $60.00 and $50.00. Colloge is getting ready to go up next year by $35.00 per 9 innning.
We have in place a rating system and a tremendous training system.

Now for associations that don't have that then you need to either ride you BOD members or get on there yourself. How can improve if there isn't some means to learn. Assignors must have a working knowledge of their umps. Any other way is crazy. I've heard of some areas that just contract with schools on an individual basis. That makes no sense either.
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Old Wed Apr 17, 2002, 07:01pm
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Oh, my God....

At one point in our country's history, Labor Unions helped to right a number of unjust and inhumane conditions. They had (and continue to have) a place in our country when properly applied.

Imagine, a Labor Union representing the thousands of amateur umpires in the US and trying to bring standards and consistency to the treatment and compensation of all umpires.

How many schools drop programs because our costs become prohibitive in areas of the country that have less resources available for extracurricular activities?

Do the weaker umpires get post-season work because they have tenure rather than talent? How is that properly servicing our clients?

Do the Associations that seem to work okay pay the price for those that have problems/issues?

And, as for taxes ..... pay them for God's sake. One of the reasons that I pay so much in taxes is because so many people do not pay their share. Those who file honestly are penalized while others take advantage of the "cash" nature of our business. How can one hold oneself as an enforcer or rules and arbiter if one is not honest on one's 1040?

Let's leave Unions where they do some good. Let's not create a new mega-monster. If your Association is screwed-up, run for office -- it is far easier to fix something from inside rather than be complaining from the outside.
Rich Coyle
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