Hockey stars have unlikely teammates
MATTHEW PETERSON -- Calgary Sun
If Jarome Iginla delivered groceries, it would take him 187 years to match his annual NHL salary -- but he's still a union comrade to those on the Federated Co-op picket line. "Yeah, it is pretty ironic," said striker Hale Schaefer, who has been an employee with Federated Co-operatives for five years.
A battle with management has both collectives off the job, with the union responsible for transporting goods to Calgary Co-op grocery stores fighting mandatory overtime, and NHL players fighting for the right to earn millions.
For five weeks, 300 members of the Teamsters Union Local 987 have been picketing outside the southwest warehouse, while their NHL brothers have been off the job less than a week.
So far, there have been no sign of players picketing outside the Saddledome, but the teamsters say it's a similar struggle.
"We are striking for benefits," said Schaefer.
When you're a teamster, those benefits include a $35,000 to $40,000 annual salary -- when you're an average NHLer, it's $1.8 million a year, or $7.5 million when you're a star.
Schaefer and fellow striker Parambir Riar admitted they'll have a tougher time making ends meet.
"I'm sure they've got six figures in the bank, we've got nothing," added Schaefer. "And (NHL players) were prepared for this."
Schaefer said the teamsters are getting $200 a week in strike pay. NHL players do not, but the NHLPA does have a war chest for the players to get through these trying times.
Riar said he was not going to pick sides in the NHL dispute, but if a salary cap means lower ticket prices, then he is in favour.
"Both sides are greedy," said Riar.
"If the players don't make the money, the owners will ... there is no clear loser here."
"Money talks," added Schaefer, who said the NHL lockout will probably last longer than their strike action. "But, I don't think they'll be standing in a picket line."