I wonder if there's a union for self-employed consultants. I ask this in light of today's brouhaha between the Boston Red Sox, their management, and Major League Baseball. In case you missed it, the Red Sox chose not to take the field for their exhibition game today, and stated that they wouldn't board their flight to Japan for the season opening series unless their demands were met.
I applaud the Red Sox players for taking a stand to ensure that coaches and other non-playing personnel were compensated to make the trip, particularly since A) the players are receiving an additional stipend above and beyond their salaries, and B) non-players received stipends for the two previous season-opening trips to Japan. Particularly cool is that fact that when the league and management only offered to come up with an amount equal to half each player's stipend, the guys pooled their cash to ensure that everyone in the travel party received an equal share.
What I'm not cool with is the amount of the stipend the players are receiving. $40,000 each.
Forty thousand dollars each.
FORTY FRICKIN' GRAND. EACH.
I mean, I don't think I'm turning into Lewis Black here, am I? Doesn't this seem like an exorbitant amount of money to be paying guys who already make a good wage to get on an airplane, do their jobs for a few days, then come home? Hell, this would be a perk in my book. But, what do I know? I'm just a guy who's used to traveling internationally for work, I guess. Oh, and I like sushi.
I don't know the exact schedule, but I'm guessing it plays out something like this...
Thursday: Fly to Japan on chartered 747 (or equivalent) with either all business class seating or an entire row of economy seats per person.
Friday: Arrive Japan; board chartered buses for ride from Narita into town. In fact, since this is such a big dealio, maybe they'll even be able to fly into Haneda, shaving 45 minutes off the trip to the hotel. Speaking of hotels, I doubt that the teams are staying at a Quality Inn...somehow, the Grand Hyatt Roppongi seems more plausible.
Saturday: Workout at Tokyo Dome, get out to get some air, play exhibition game at Tokyo Dome. Head to Ginza or Roppongi to shop. Alternately, hole up in hotel room and play PS3. Complain about food.
Sunday: See Saturday.
Monday: See Saturday, minus the exhibition game.
Tuesday: Morning workout, air, play night game.
Wednesday: Morning workout, air, play night game.
Thursday: Fly home, arriving back in the U.S. prior to the time of Thursday's departure. Tell press either A) how much you enjoyed the trip, that you believe everyone should make such a trip, and that you were honored to be part of the delegation, or B) complain about the food, mention that you stayed in the hotel the whole time playing PS3 because Tokyo is too crowded.
Is that worth $40,000 to you? Heck, I think a lot of us would do it for $4,000. Or a plane ticket, a room, and a sashimi moriawase. This year's major league minimum salary is $390,000. Now I can do the math and say that a $40,000 bonus for the "hardship" of "having to travel to Japan" for a couple of games which count (and a couple which don't) is less than a 10% bonus for even the lowliest rookie. I can also say that these guys are making enough money that maybe just showing up and honoring your contract is compensation enough.
Another way to do the math is that the traveling parties are gone for 8 days; on a $40,000 stipend, that's $5,000 a day. Now, granted, that wouldn't cover Governor Spitzer's outlay, but for pretty much anybody else, an extra $5k a day to do your job is a pretty decent bonus.
Kudos to the players for taking a stand, particularly to even out the stipends for all the non-playing travelers. But, c'mon...I don't expect to hear a peep out of anyone about what a difficult trip this is.
And if you're a rep for the self-employed consultants union, feel free to drop me a note.