I’m penning this on Saturday afternoon and the core story took place on Halloween night in metro DC. Trust me, that all comes into play over the next few paragraphs.
I was in a garage (to stay out of the intermittent rain) and talking with a small group that included a man about 15 years my junior whom I had never met before. By the time this is published baseball season will be over (and I assume the Houston Astros will have won the World Series – but I may be wrong; that’s why they play the games).
The conversation was dominated by sports and, as it often does among older guys (myself certainly included) it eventually turned to baseball. Despite 15 season of coaching basketball baseball always was and remains my favorite sport by far.
The incredible money in the sport at the major league level dominated the conversation and we recognized that without Curt Flood’s challenge of the reserve clause that would not be the case. While I must admit I fondly remember the days when a player was a Yankee, Cardinal or whatever for life, the current system is fairer and much more American. I summed up my feeling by saying, “No man should be owned by his organization.” The old system was little more than a modified form of slavery. Silently I reflected that for many employees it still is.
With some exceptions to protect the proprietary property of business entities I am against non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) and non-compete clauses in employment contracts. Too often they are used to hide bad behavior and/or “enslave” workers.
I can understand that, at high and sensitive levels where the employee is extremely well compensated the non-compete clause is necessary but when pizza delivery people are forced into one that is way too far! Too often NDAs and non-competes are part of the Day 1 on the new job’s flurry of paperwork. What option does the employee really have? They have already left their previous employer.
NDAs (and compulsory arbitration) are too often used by less than ethical people (I’m being kind in my language again). Company secrets have to be protected but bad behavior (i.e. sexual harassment)? Unless we are dealing with sensitive information (i.e. national security or proprietary formulas) why shouldn’t a person be able to, for example, write a book upon leaving a job? If an employee gives up a right, they should be compensated for it. If you are fired, are you paid until death?
In the United States no person or entity should own a person. To do so is basically slavery, that is illegal in American and I am far from alone in thinking it is morally reprehensible.
You can see where my “political mind” never shuts down. I felt we might all need a diversion from the mid-terms. Hopefully you followed my advice and didn’t stay up too late last night. I’m sure I did so you didn’t have to but even I needed a break, albeit short, from politics.
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