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The CBA and Me

January 17, 2010

I refrain from talking about things I don’t know about and things that aren’t terribly important to me. The expiration of the MLS Collective Bargaining Agreement falls into both of these categories. I am by no means an expert in labor relations, but I also know that there is a lot of posturing on both sides and often times the real negotiations don’t begin until just before the deadline.

It just hasn’t been worth the time to worry over every little pronouncement by the erratic players union or the same boilerplate language from the tight lipped owners. That’s not to say I haven’t enjoyed reading Fake Sigi’s take on the sparring and it’s effect on the Crew. That’s quality stuff.

Steve Goff, however, had a few updates that piqued my interest. First he noted a general improvement in tone:

I’m getting positive vibes about the negotiations over a new collective bargaining agreement between MLS and the players’ union. Might we see a tentative agreement before the expiration of the current deal at the end of this month?

That’s good right? Both sides are starting to talk. The players realizing they don’t have much negotiating power and the owners possibly realizing the very negative effect a work stoppage could have in a World Cup year. I would still prefer something based on more than “positive vibes”, but that would mean the Crew are in the clear for their Champions League games in March.

I would still feel good if I stop quoting there, but Goff then goes on to say:

A work stoppage in preseason, which for many teams is scheduled to begin in two weeks, wouldn’t be catastrophic, but any delay to the start of the league schedule in late March would be a public relations setback for the league and sport in this country.

There is the problem. Preseason doesn’t matter much for 15 of the 16 teams in MLS until it gets to real games. The Crew have real games coming up in less than two months. The team has repeatedly said that the Champions League games mean something to the organization, the money would be nice as well. This has the chance to seriously impact the balance sheet and the prestige of the Crew, but the rest of MLS has until the end of March until they start missing games.

The negotiations may be going better and the prospects of a deal may be looking up; I am not sure if it will be in time for the Crew. For me, that would be truly disappointing as a fan of the Crew and the league.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Studio79 permalink
    January 18, 2010 8:12 am

    Here is actually what worries me. What if an agreement is NOT reached by the deadline? The result here will affect ONLY the Crew. Will they be able to play their CCL game, or will they have to forfit? The issue here is that if the Crew is NOT able to play that game, the CONCACAF can BAN the team from continental competitions for multiple years. Let’s see if we can find an answer to that situation.

    • January 18, 2010 8:24 am

      You are exactly right, both the players and the league can afford to wait. It’s only the Crew and their players that really want to avoid a lockout.

      There are potential repercussions and Fake Sigi noted they could be waived in certain circumstances, but for a club that could use the money from the competition fines and bans would be an added insult. A strike would increase the chance of the Crew missing out on gate receipts and bonuses from the knockout round; even if the fines are waived they are still paying the price.

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