The NFL Cheerleaders Need A Union. We Imagine The Teamsters Would Oblige

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We wish we could say we were surprised by the fact that pro football cheerleaders earn wages that make McDonald’s workers look well-compensated, but we aren’t. Finally, one squad — the Oakland Raiderettes — has stepped up and sued their team because they are as mad as hell and they just aren’t going to take it any more.

This week, current and former Raiderettes—the cheer squad for the Oakland Raiders—filed suit in the Alameda County Superior Court, claiming that the football team “withholds all pay from the Raiderettes until after the season is completed, does not pay for all hours worked and forces the cheerleaders to pay many of their own business expenses,” according to the San Jose Mercury News.

The Raiderettes’ lawyer, who is demanding tens of thousands of dollars in back-pay, said the cheerleaders make only $1,250 a year, or less than $5 an hour, and they’re fined for minor lapses like bringing the wrong pom-poms to rehearsals or for “not turning in written biographies on time.” One of the plaintiffs added that the team also makes the women foot their own hair, makeup, travel, and photo expenses.

That does not sound like a Happy Nice Time job at all! That sounds grueling and stupid and exploitative. Not as grueling and stupid and exploitative as being an athlete in the NCAA, of course, but pretty genuinely terrible nonetheless. Pro-tip: whatever other terrible things you do to your employees — and with NFL cheerleaders these appear to be legion — it is a really bad idea to just not pay them. Big mistake. Big. Huge.

Your beloved Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders, those stars of the posters that launched a thousand faps

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…probably have it the worst.

The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, whose grueling audition and training process has been well-documented, are similarly stingy. The women make $150 per home game, and there is no pay for rehearsals, of which there are many. (“CANDIDATES WHO DO NOT FEEL THEY CAN ATTEND ALL REHEARSALS SHOULD NOT CONTEMPLATE BEING A DALLAS COWBOYS CHEERLEADER,” the official DCC site, a masterwork of Southern passive-aggression, implores.)[…] The entire squad re-auditions each year, so veterans risk being cut even after years of practice.

Besides all that, they had to endure EIGHT FUCKING SEASONS of that “Making The Team” reality show documenting their every move.

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The idiotic logic that drives this incredibly low pay is that it is a part time job and the little ladies can go to college (on their own dime, of course) or get another part time job or they should just stop worrying their little lady heads and smile for the camera. We are here to say, categorically, that is some complete bullshit. For example, if you are a Chargette, or a Charger Girl, or whatever, you are supposed to be available for rehearsals at any moment.

If selected, when do rehearsals begin?

Rehearsals begin immediately following Charger Girls mini camp. Mandatory rehearsals are held on Monday and/or Wednesday evenings, and one-two Saturday(s) a month, times to be determined. Rehearsals are mandatory and may not be missed unless there is an emergency. Rehearsal dates are subject to change at any time. Please keep in mind that you may be asked to rehearse more often during the week.

Surprise extra rehearsals are SO easy to do when you’re holding down another job or going to college, aren’t they? But hey, maybe you don’t need another job, because you’ll make a whole $1000 a season or so, which is more than enough for actually nothing at all.

And hey, remember when the NFL locked out its refs? That is because they didn’t accept the NFL’s offer of only $149,000 to $189,000 for their part-time jobs. (Which actually were part-time.)

Listen, NFL teams. You make all the money. All of it. And when you want to make more money, you hold cities hostage until they build your stadiums for you. The least you could do is bump the cheerleaders up to the mid five figures for the season with extra special six-figure paychecks for the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders as thanks for all those beautiful 1970s posters.

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[Atlantic/San Diego Chargers]

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