It’s a Deal: MLS Collective Bargaining Agreement Becomes an Actual AgreementBy: Laurie | March 21st, 2010
MLS fans, you have a new name to add to your holiday card list: George Cohen.
He’s the mediator who erased all the lines in the sand and dug out the heels that were…um…dug in.
It was his hard work in bringing union and management together that headed off an MLS strike, protected the single entity structure, and gave the players at least a fair portion of what they were hoping for. This meant that a situation which just last week was being described as “doomed” can now be described as SUCCESS!
In other words? Superman.
If Superman were, y’know, an east coast professional mediator.
And the biggest bonus is that I don’t have to decide whether to let my season tickets go to waste vs. going to games with non-union “scab” players. For this I am very grateful.
But fear not, Players Union and owners: Bob Foose and Don Garber did right by you. Foose fought for the players to the end, and Garber held onto the owners’ money so tightly I could hear it screaming clear across the country. But both sides gave up some of what they desperately wanted in order to make a deal.
Details haven’t been released yet but are expected to be unveiled soon. What we know right now:
- Assuming both sides vote to approve (and there’s no reason to think that they won’t), there will be a 2010 season.
- More money. No firm details on how much the salary cup will be rising, but it will be going up. Before the mediation, rumor was a rise from $2.3m per team to $2.6 m. After listening to the press conference yesterday, I’m thinking more money may have been needed to make a deal happen.
- Rumors of a minimum salary of $40k, with no second tier for developmental players. (Developmental players were the young guys on the extreme low end of the pay spectrum. As recently as 2008, they could make as little as $12,100 per year.) Ending the practice is a great move, both because it’s the right thing to do and because these salaries were a PR disaster. All the union ever had to do to get sympathy was say, “look how much these kids get paid.” And without a reserve league (aboloshed in 2009), a developmental roster didn’t make that much sense anyway.
- Many more guaranteed contracts. This was one of the big demands of the union: that players’ contracts be guaranteed for the season, as FIFA encourages clubs to do. Management fought this one hard, but in the end it looks like when it comes to the senior players, they had to give some ground in order to get:
- No free agency. This was one of the biggest sticking points. Players believe, and rightly so, that it’s not right for teams to continue to hold their rights after they are no longer under contract, and that they should be free to move between teams. Management says that this — not allowing teams to compete against each other for players — is a fundamental underpinning of their single entity status. Allow free agency? No more single entity. So this demand had to go. Instead we get:
- A Re-entry draft: Players no longer under contact will be entered into a re-entry draft where other teams can pick them up. Details still to be revealed.
And finally, and probably most important: Improved participation and input from the players into how MLS is run. The goal here apparently being to head off issues before they threaten to destroy the league in the next CBA process five years from now.
All in all, not a bad end to a very contentious situation.
And mediator George Cohen? You’re my new and bestest best friend.