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No MLS strike, but no deal either

MLS and the players' union have failed to reach a deal on a new collective bargaining agreement, but for the time being, there will not be a work stoppage. The previous pact expired Jan. 31 and had been extended twice, the most recent one expiring at midnight tonight, to allow the sides to continue talks.

Bob Foose, executive director of the union, said: "While we expect that negotiations with MLS will resume at some point, there simply hasn't been enough progress made in the negotiations to date to warrant an extension of the old agreement. We have advised our players to keep working for the time being, but as of Friday they will be doing so without a CBA. In the meantime, all options are being considered as the process continues. We are completely committed to forging real changes to the way MLS players are treated."

MLS's statement:

"The current CBA expires today and the players' union would not agree to a further extension. We have told the union that the league does not plan to lock out the players and we are prepared to begin the season under the current CBA while we continue to bargain to reach agreement on a new CBA. We have listened to the issues raised by the union, and the league has made detailed proposals that have addressed these issues, including in the areas of economics, guaranteed contracts, options and the ability of a player to move to another MLS club if he is released by his current club. These proposals, which represent substantial changes from the current CBA, will significantly increase our spending and provide substantially more rights to the players."

By Steve Goff  |  February 25, 2010; 5:13 PM ET
Categories:  MLS  
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Comments

So where is the .pdf of the MLS proposal?

Posted by: dcufan | February 25, 2010 5:20 PM | Report abuse

Well this sounds like a small amount of progress in the sense that the 2 sides understand how important it is not to have a strike or a lockout...

I wonder if what the league says is true in that "We have listened to the issues raised by the union, and the league has made detailed proposals that have addressed these issues, including in the areas of economics, guaranteed contracts, options and the ability of a player to move to another MLS club if he is released by his current club."

If so, then that sounds like a decent compromise...

Posted by: BurchFan4 | February 25, 2010 5:21 PM | Report abuse

So now we're in limbo, and now the union could theoretically wait to strike at the point when they feel it would hurt the league the most, i.e. immediately before the start of the season resulting in an actual loss of games rather than now during preseason.

"I love deadlines. I love the whooshing sound they make as a fly by." -Douglas Adams

Posted by: VercengetorixII | February 25, 2010 5:28 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone think the PU would take less "economics" for "the ability of a player to move to another MLS club if he is released by his current club" or "guaranteed contracts"?

In my world thats how negotiations work, we'll give you x if you give us y.

Posted by: SoccerVA | February 25, 2010 5:35 PM | Report abuse

No surprise really because the players just don't have all that much leverage. If the players do decide to strike just before the regular season begins, I'm afraid that they'd just find out firsthand how little Americans care about whether there's a MLS regular season or not this year.

Posted by: Stevenho | February 25, 2010 5:37 PM | Report abuse

In the meantime, all options are being considered as the process continues. We are completely committed to forging real changes to the way MLS players are treated."
---------------------------------------------------------

Methinks this means one of 3 things, or a combination:

(1) Foose is recommending to hold off while negotiations continue in hopes of reaching a real deal;

(2) the union is looking at new litigation or having an impasse declared and proceeding to binding arbitration; and

(3) for a number of reasons the Players' Association may believe this is not the ideal time for a work stoppage. I see 2 reasons for this: First, the union might want to allow camps to continue so the rosters can be set -- giving younger players a chance to earn spots, and making it easier to restart after a walkout; and second, the union may be waiting for the season to start before announcing a walkout. Walking out now won't accomplish much, since it won't hit the owners' pocketbooks. Once the season starts, a walkout takes on a different, far more serious tenor.

Posted by: fischy | February 25, 2010 5:39 PM | Report abuse

Fischy, binding arbitration? Do they have that provision?

Posted by: dccal | February 25, 2010 5:42 PM | Report abuse

Game on

Posted by: Godfather_of_Goals | February 25, 2010 5:47 PM | Report abuse

It may come as a revelation to some, but no group of workers wants to strike. Particularly for a group with limited experience as union members, striking is very difficult. I am sure that the players still hope to negotiate some sort of deal. And, as some have pointed out, striking once the season starts makes a great deal more sense.
Once again, the league's announcement strains credibility. The only specific change that would increase the league's costs is guaranteed contracts and those should not represent a significant increase. Allowing players to sign with other MLS clubs at the end of their original contracts would not increase overall costs at all.

Posted by: Jphubba | February 25, 2010 5:48 PM | Report abuse

No surprise really because the players just don't have all that much leverage. If the players do decide to strike just before the regular season begins, I'm afraid that they'd just find out firsthand how little Americans care about whether there's a MLS regular season or not this year.

@ Stevenho - Unfortunately it doesn't really matter how much or how little Americans care...
What does matter is how much MLS cares. And if there are actual matches lost then MLS will care a LOT. Because that means lost revenue for the league. Both from stadium attendance and TV contracts. And that's where the players have real leverage.

Posted by: SoundersMob | February 25, 2010 5:49 PM | Report abuse

What's your deal, Wade?

You betcha, ya.

Posted by: Reignking | February 25, 2010 5:50 PM | Report abuse

It may come as a revelation to some, but no group of workers wants to strike.

Posted by: Jphubba

HA!

The French love to strike! And that's not hyperbole -- they actually love it. They get kegs and throw a party.

GREVE!

Posted by: Reignking | February 25, 2010 5:53 PM | Report abuse

SoundersMob -- Yes, not holding games means lost revenue from stadium attendance (of which the League gets 30%) and TV contracts (of which the League gets 100% of the national contract money, and 0% of the local contract money). The League has one other revenue source -- *national* sponsorship contracts -- and it's unclear how those will be affected.

But it also means less expenses for the League, in the form of player salaries (which the League pays 100%, minus DP money in excess of the league maximum, which the local operator pays).

What information do you have that League revenues through those three sources listed above exceed the player salary expenses?


Posted by: christopher_a_metzler | February 25, 2010 5:56 PM | Report abuse

Americans abroad...

The other Texan comes through big (huge) for Fulham.

"Brede Hangeland was the hero on a European glory night for Fulham as they stunned Shakhtar Donetsk to reach the last 16 of the Europa League."

http://soccernet.espn.go.com/report?id=285556&cc=4716&league=UEFA.EUROPA

Posted by: Southeasterner | February 25, 2010 5:56 PM | Report abuse

Well Golly Gee Willickers aren't the league and the MLSPU just swell!

Posted by: PabloChicago | February 25, 2010 6:15 PM | Report abuse

Posted by Ron 16: Let's cut to the chase here. There's gonna be a strike. The question is, for how long?

I say three weeks, then the players cave just as the NHL players did to end their strike.

-----

I think you meant to say, "...three seconds..."

Posted by: PabloChicago | February 25, 2010 6:21 PM | Report abuse

It may come as a revelation to some, but no group of workers wants to strike.
Posted by: Jphubba
============

I take it you've never been to France, where once, even the unemployed went on "strike."

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | February 25, 2010 6:43 PM | Report abuse

Oh. Just noticed that Reignking is back to his old ways and beating me to the punchline.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | February 25, 2010 6:52 PM | Report abuse

Off topic (but haven't we beat the topic to death?), Yael Averbuch blogs from the Algarve Cup about the jersey, GPS training devices, and toilet paper.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | February 25, 2010 7:07 PM | Report abuse

Today's developments are interesting. I would have been surprised by a strike during pre-season because a strike during the season creates greater leverage. The "no-lockout" pledge by MLS has to be seen as some type of olive branch, at least for the time being. Other than that, who knows what is going on at the table and back channel.

One point, written as a union negotiator, no worker looks forward to an economic strike. A strike is the absolutely last step in a dispute resolution process and one that often ends badly for all involved. The essence of good bargaining and labor relations is making a deal that everyone can live with without a strike or lockout. Let's hope for the players' sakes, MLS's sake and the fans' sake that all of this can be wrapped up peacefully before the start of the regular season. To do so will require serious substantive compromises from both sides in the negotiations.

Posted by: griffin1108 | February 25, 2010 7:23 PM | Report abuse

"So where is the .pdf of the MLS proposal?"

Right next to the Republican health care bill!

Posted by: Mastodon_Juan | February 25, 2010 7:24 PM | Report abuse

SoundersMob -- Well, the thing is that most of the invester/owners are losing money anyway. Would their deficit stream be hit significantly harder by a strike than it would by allowing the regular season to go forward? Does the player who earns a median salary have the financial wherewithal to weather a strike? It seems to me that the best move the players could make would be to make the best of what they can get now and sign a short-term deal so they can come back and renegotiate in two or three years when the economy is doing better and when MLS is feeling a jolt of adrenaline from new highly successful (attendance-wise, that is) from new expansion teams in Philadelphia, Portland and Vancouver.

Posted by: Stevenho | February 25, 2010 7:25 PM | Report abuse

I'm confused. The old CBA has expired, and the players are still playing under it? Doesn't that just amount to an extension, which apparently was not agreed upon?

Posted by: revsfanindc | February 25, 2010 7:29 PM | Report abuse

TFC website streaming games from Disney, for you nerds like me.

Posted by: JacobfromAtlanta-ish | February 25, 2010 7:44 PM | Report abuse

It sounds like the MLSPU and MLS Onwers are at different meetings..........would love to see what the owners actually put forth in terms of "compromise" and who exactly is full of malarky.

Posted by: boda-united | February 25, 2010 8:18 PM | Report abuse

revsfanindc -- No. If the MLSPU agreed to an extension, then they couldn't strike until the extension expired. Right now, they're operating under the old CBA, but can strike if they want.

Posted by: christopher_a_metzler | February 25, 2010 8:33 PM | Report abuse

I -struck- first, 270!

Posted by: Reignking | February 25, 2010 9:38 PM | Report abuse


"So where is the .pdf of the MLS proposal?"

Right next to the Republican health care bill!


post of the thread!

Posted by: lrg1231 | February 25, 2010 9:51 PM | Report abuse

You know what's funny about those French strikes? Other than the kegs and parties?

They use vacation days -- and why not, since they have so many? My wife's coworker actually complained that she couldn't strike much more that year because she was running out of vacation days.

Posted by: Reignking | February 25, 2010 9:57 PM | Report abuse

@christopher_a_metzler,
RE "Right now, they're operating under the old CBA, but can strike if they want."

“Effective at midnight tonight, our collective bargaining agreement with MLS will expire,” said Union Executive Director Bob Foose.

In other words, now there is no CBA. Having reached this juncture however, a strike/lockout is not YET on. That’s all. No strike right now. Clearly, the MLS season cannot begin w/o a CBA (or understanding or some sort?) in place so this simply means they have a few more weeks to work something out before a strike/lockout/stalemate? does take place. At least that’s my read.

PU: "We expect that negotiations with MLS will resume at some point” – sounds like the sides are frustrated with one another and that they haven’t yet agreed on, at least a timetable for, the next step.

I vote future CBA’s not expire in World Cup years. Any year a strike is a bad for MLS & soccer in the US, but this year would be particularly bad. Playing devil’s advocate w/ myself, I suppose one could argue that theoretically a WC year should focus each side's minds like a laser on how hurtful a strike would be.

A buddy of mine at the AODC viewing party last night expressed the opinion that a strike would greatly hurt the US's chances of landing one of our WC bids for '18 & '22. Not sure if he's correct or not but if true, that should focus minds even more as surely having the WC in the US would be a major boost to the sport in this country to the benefit of all parties(MLS, players, fans, future fans, etc.).

PS- Got home after a long day at work at @8:30pm, apologies for any discursive writing.

Posted by: KireDCU | February 25, 2010 10:08 PM | Report abuse

"So where is the .pdf of the MLS proposal?"

Right next to the Republican health care bill!

That sums it up perfectly. Bravo!

Posted by: kanicko | February 25, 2010 10:27 PM | Report abuse

I can't decide whether or not to re-post powerboater's "yes a lockout, take it to the bank" prediction or not . . . I've got it saved and ready to copy and paste . . .

Posted by: fallschurch1 | February 25, 2010 10:38 PM | Report abuse

Any word on MLS lining up scab players? It would be hard to keep it a secret if they were.

Posted by: hawknt | February 26, 2010 6:15 AM | Report abuse

NASL, your new division 1.

Wouldn't that be ironic?

Posted by: Reignking | February 26, 2010 9:26 AM | Report abuse

KireDCU -- from the beginning of your response, it doesn't seem like you understood what I wrote.

As long as the CBA was in effect, the players were forbidden by the CBA from going on strike. In fact, notwithstanding Goff's reporting that "strike votes" were being collected prior to expiration, the terms of the CBA prevented not only going on strike, but voting to go on strike, or the Union advocating for players *to* strike.

Now, right now, there is no CBA. The players and and the League have stated that for now they're continuing to operate as if the old one was still in effect; but no actual extension has been agreed to. That means that the players are not legally bound to its terms, including those which forbid strike activity. So while they're not on strike now, if they wanted to go on strike now, they could. That wasn't true yesterday or the day before -- yesterday or the day before, if they'd gone on strike, they would have been in violation of the CBA. Now, there is no CBA to violate.

Posted by: christopher_a_metzler | February 26, 2010 10:13 AM | Report abuse

"So where is the .pdf of the MLS proposal?"

Right next to the Republican health care bill!

Posted by: Mastodon_Juan | February 25, 2010 7:24 PM
==========================

You nimrods:
http://rules-republicans.house.gov/Media/PDF/RepublicanAlternative3962_9.pdf

Posted by: Rand-al-Thor | February 26, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

I seriously wonder what will come first: new health care legislation or a MLS CBA.

Posted by: invncbl | February 26, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

"So where is the .pdf of the MLS proposal?"

Right next to the Republican health care bill!

Posted by: Mastodon_Juan | February 25, 2010 7:24 PM
==========================

You nimrods:
http://rules-republicans.house.gov/Media/PDF/RepublicanAlternative3962_9.pdf

Posted by: Rand-al-Thor | February 26, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse


Darn you, Rand-al-Thor! Darn you and your, your....your FACTS!! We don't need your kind around here!

Posted by: Atlanta4MLS | February 26, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

The Republican Health Care proposal, in short form:

We don't care about people who can't afford health insurance because they don't vote for us anyway.

Oh, sorry, wrong venue.

So there's not going to be a lockout. If the player's strike they endanger not only the league and their own future but also the US' chances in the World Cup (well, arguably at least). The folks who fund the league are generally loaded so any loss related to a strike would be just a blip on their radar screens. It seems like, in reality, the players have little to bargain with and a lot to loose by striking.

Posted by: hacksaw | February 26, 2010 3:58 PM | Report abuse

The Republican Health Care proposal, in short form:

We don't care about people who can't afford health insurance because they don't vote for us anyway.
==============

Brilliant, Hack. You come up with that all by yourself?

Posted by: Rand-al-Thor | February 26, 2010 4:43 PM | Report abuse

"Right next to the Republica Health Care Plan" - they should go on strike...
Binding Arbitration - good lord...
Pay for Performance & if your unhappy go play overseas or in Latin/South America and stick it to the MLS aka Club Garber! Give a man a fischy....and he ends up a lonely reignking begging for change on I-270Exit1
Well done son...

Posted by: Zipfutbol | February 26, 2010 6:25 PM | Report abuse

Zip it Zip.

Posted by: DadRyan | February 26, 2010 10:29 PM | Report abuse

Sorry if I have missed a good answer.
In re: MLS Labor talks/Salaries
I wondered what benefits the players receive. Is it just the salary? Do they have medical insurance (family included)? What about Pension? How is that pro-rated? Do they get per diem/housing subsidy? What about travel costs, how are those absorbed? In essence, what does a minimum contract actually come out in cost to the owners?
As a follow-up to that I hope you might be able to shed some light on how those salary package pieces compare to other professional athletes in the United States.
Thanks,

Posted by: davidcamphouse | February 27, 2010 1:40 PM | Report abuse

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