Whether it's the United Auto Workers and my comrades-in-arms at the Newspaper Guild here in Philly, I think we can all agree that 2009 hasn't been a very easy or particularly exciting year for union members. Which is why I look on with a certain amount of bemusement as Major League Soccer officially unveiled our local franchise today: The Philadelphia Union.
Talk about a throwback! Was the name Philadelphia Stetsons unavailable? Among the other issues raised, the socialist-sounding name of the soccer club pegged for the new waterfront stadium down in Chester probably ensures that most WPHT listeners and other local conservatives won't be attending in any great numbers. But actually, even though the City of Brotherly Love is probably the strongest remaining organized labor outpost in America, the team didn't mean THAT kind of union:
Tom Veit, president of the Union, said the name was the top choice of fans voting on the team’s Web site. He too said the team’s name and crest (the stars represent the original 13 colonies and the rattlesnake was used by Ben Franklin in a political cartoon) are intended to embody Philadelphia’s influential role in the formation of the United States.
“The words ‘in order to form a more perfect union’ were written on a very important piece of paper here” in Philadelphia", he said, in reference to the Declaration of Independence.
Oh. You mean they're not honoring the local Roofers? Anyway, as a longtime soccer buff, I'm actually pretty pumped about the arrival of the pro game here next spring, but as an MLS expansion team our Philly franchise will need lots of time to form that more perfect Union. In fact, they may initially rival the record of another union, the Air Traffic Controllers, who set an all-time record for futility back in the '81 season.