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SPORTS UNIONS MORE FAT-CAT THAN WORKING-CLASS
Published March 21, 1995
Financial reports filed with the U.S. Labor Dept. by three of the major pro sports unions -- MLBPA, NBPA and NFLPA -- "offer a snapshot of how much these unions are worth, how they acquire money and how they spend it," according to Mike Freeman of the N.Y. TIMES. "With assets in the tens and, in the case of baseball, hundreds of millions of dollars, sports unions have been able to ease the burden of dues on players, pay their leaders as if they were CEO's and build fat war chests to fight longer and harder during times of labor strife." No report was available for the NHLPA, which is based in Canada. LEADER'S NO. OF AVG. MEMBER UNION LEADER SALARY MEMBERS SALARY NFLPA Gene Upshaw $1,236,443 2,000 $750,000 MLBPA Don Fehr $950,000 800 $1.2M NBPA Charles Grantham $550,307 400 $1.5M AFL-CIO Lane Kirkland $204,672 13.3M $30,784 UNION DUES COLLECTED LICENSING REVENUE NFLPA $7,157,187 $17,604,759 MLBPA $3,936,610 $74,826,917 NBPA $1,731,866 -0- AFL-CIO $62,839,305 not applicable QUOTES: Union finances specialist Gary Edwards: "Few people, if any, in the history of the union movement have earned the kind of money sports union leaders do." Teamsters President Ron Carey: "Even if I had four million members or 10 million members I personally could not accept a salary of $1 million or even close to it. ... But that's me. They may have different priorities and needs that I am not aware of." While several MLB players said they were not aware Fehr made that much, Fehr responded: "Everybody knows. It's in the reports." Upshaw, whose salary is decided by an executive council of current and former players: "I don't set my salary. If I did, I would have paid myself more because I'm worth more. It's about what you bring to the table. This union has brought peace to the sport" (N.Y. TIMES, 3/21).