SBD/Issue 125/Leagues & Governing Bodies

MLSPU Confirms Strike Will Happen If No CBA Reached By March 25

MLSPU Issues Statement Saying Players Will
Strike If New CBA Not Reached By March 25

The potential for an MLS work stoppage took another step toward reality Thursday with the MLS Players Union issuing a statement for the first time confirming that players will strike if a new CBA is not reached by March 25, the start of the '10 season. The union statement was issued in response to comments Thursday by MLS President Mark Abbott, who expressed disappointment that players had commented on ongoing labor negotiations and threatened to strike. Abbott characterized this week's meetings with the union as productive and said the parties had already scheduled additional meetings. He added, "We have an understanding with the Union and the mediator that we will not publicly discuss what takes places during these bargaining sessions. As such, we were disappointed to see comments from a number of players characterizing the status of the negotiations and the possibility of a strike." MLSPU responded with a statement saying, "Recent comments from players simply reflect the fact that the players are unified and, per the results of our strike vote will not begin the new season if a new agreement with the league is not reached. This is not a change in position by the Union and should not be read to reflect in any way upon what has, or has not, occurred this week in the meetings with the mediator and the league" (Mickle & Mullen, SportsBusiness Journal).

UNITED WE STAND: In Houston, Jose De Jesus Ortiz cites a source as saying that MLS players held a conference call Thursday and "have voted 383-2 in favor of a strike" if a new CBA is not reached by midnight ET on the morning of March 23, two days before the season is slated to begin. Dynamo G and player rep Pat Onstad said, "I think for us we're still at status quo. We still feel our proposals are fair. We still think the deal we’re playing under is unfair. I think with the strike vote it shows that players are unified. We all think as a group enough is enough." He added, "We will not play soccer under the current CBA. With the offer on the table, we will not play league games" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 3/12). Galaxy MF and player rep Chris Klein insisted the two sides "remain very far apart on the major issues." When asked if the 383-2 vote "convinced the owners of their solidarity," Klein said, "Let's hope so." He added, "I won't discuss any of the specifics regarding what we talked about the past few days, but let me just reiterate the players will not start the season without a new CBA in place." Klein and Wizards D and player rep Jimmy Conrad did offer "one specific condition the players would like to see removed: the contract guarantee date (in the case of last season, July 1) after which a player signed to a 'semi-guaranteed' contract on a team’s roster receives his full salary for the season." The players contend that many are "cut before the July 1 date, and left hanging in limbo for weeks or months while the team searches for alternatives" (, 3/12).

FULL WEEK OF MEETINGS: Abbott said that MLS' negotiating team met for three days this week regarding the CBA, which expired January 31. All three meetings were with mediator George Cohen, Dir of the Federal Mediation & Conciliation Service, and two of the meetings were with MLSPU officials. Abbott noted that the league could not discuss what occurred at the negotiating table but added that "we (MLS) do believe that the players' comments do not accurately reflect the proposals that we have made to address the players' concerns or the productive nature of the discussions between MLS and the Players Union" (Mickle & Mullen). In DC, Steve Goff noted while mediation is ongoing, MLS "cannot lock out the players and the players cannot strike." So in order to strike, the players would have to "reject the continuation of mediation." The sides are scheduled to meet again with the mediator next week in DC (, 3/11). 

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