[MLS] In this case, no news may be bad news, as movement toward a collective bargaining agreement seems to be nonexistent. Through two extensions agreed upon by Major League Soccer and the MLS Players Union, the deadline to finalize a new agreement is Thursday.
Barring a miraculous midnight-hour settlement or another extension, the only chance for business to continue as usual is for the players to accept an MLS offer to operate during the 2010 season under the current CBA while negotiations continue. They would revoke their right to strike and the owners wouldn’t be able to lock them out in 2010.
This course of action isn’t likely, since the players feel their only real power at this point is in a strike and had management come anywhere close to the players’ requests their mood wouldn’t be pessimistic. “The owners don’t take us seriously,” said Quakes keeper Joe Cannon last week. “I need to reiterate that the players are prepared. I really think we’re unified on this. We’re ready to do what we have to do to improve our situation.”
Player representatives consulted with the MLSPU hierarchy -- general counsel Jon Newman and executive director Bob Foose -- and their teammates on Wednesday. Calls to several of those player reps weren’t returned. At the last round of meetings Monday in Washington, D.C., talks ended prematurely, and players have been advised as to when and how strike votes will be conducted if Newman and Foose can’t make any progress.
“We’re in constant contact with our players so I don’t think a conference call Friday would mean anything’s going to happen either way,” said Galaxy midfielder and player representative Chris Klein. “I would guess there’s not going to be another extension, like we’ve had before, and after that I don’t know what’s going to happen to be honest. Whatever we have to do to move this thing forward our players are willing to do.”
The players are challenging the process by which clubs retain rights to players who are terminated, waived or out of contract, as well as the existence of unilateral option years and lack of guaranteed terms in the majority of player contracts.
Foose challenged contentions by MLS President Mark Abbott that proposals suggested by the league would increase player compensation by $60 million over a five-year period; Klein says there are issues more important than compensation.
“Whatever numbers came out, I don’t think it would change where we are,” said Klein. “I don’t think it would change the things we are fighting for, because those things aren’t economic. They do have economics attached to them, and they do have economic effects, but most of it is about basic rights for the workers in this league. That’s what this negotiation is about.
“It isn’t about doubling our salaries, it isn’t about bumping everybody’s salary 20 percent. That’s never been discussed, that’s never been a point of contention on the players’ side, and as we go forward it’s not an issue for us. Yeah we want to see players make more money, as in any industry but of utmost importance right now is the rights that players have, and the rights that players have if they are terminated by a club.
“That club shouldn’t continue to hold that players’ rights. It doesn’t make sense.”