MLS Labor Negotiations Update

Is it my imagination or does MLS Commish Don Garber strike more of a conciliatory tone in this article than we’ve ever heard before?

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MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber is confident the start of the season will not be affected by a strike, while insisting Tuesday that there won’t be a quick-fix deal with the players.

The league’s first collective bargaining agreement expired Thursday after the sides twice extended the five-year deal, which originally was to have run out Jan. 31.

The MLS Players Union failed to match league management’s no-lockout pledge with a no-strike offer, leaving the start of the season on March 25 in doubt.

“We will not lock them out, and we are confident they will not go on strike,” Garber told The Associated Press at the SoccerEx convention Tuesday. “We will not make any decisions just to avoid a work stoppage. We’ve got to make decisions that will ensure the long-term financial success of the MLS, and I’m sure we will not make any decisions to prove a point.

“I don’t think any of our players want to go on strike, and we are taking their issues very
seriously. The expectations are that the season will start on time, and the expectation is
that will be reach agreement with our players.”

The Philadelphia Union plays at Seattle in the MLS opener on March 25 and Garber acknowledges that talks could go on until then.

“It’s conceivable, but my expectation is not to be negotiating an agreement an hour before kickoff,” Garber said. “I would describe these as big-league problems. Years ago we had nothing to fight about, so we didn’t have labor issues.

“Now that the league is growing and there is a bit more at stake, the players want to see
improvement in their salaries and their working conditions. And we need to understand, we need to listen and take their issues into consideration.”

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  • Joseph D’Hippolito

    Garber has to strike a more conciliatory tone because he knows full well that any work stoppage — especially during a World Cup year — will be catastrophic for MLS. A work stoppage will drive more fans to overseas games on television. Fewer fans would mean fewer sales of luxury boxes and fewer interest from potential corporate sponsors.

  • Ben

    much appreciated infos that almost got lost due the “national team friendlies” bonanza.

  • B

    I wonder when they’re going to figure out that the reason they’re losing money is not because some guys want $40k a year instead of $30k or guaranteed contracts. It’s because they’re not drawing enough fans because the quality on the pitch isn’t good enough. They’ll never prevent guys from moving to the EPL but spend a little more money to keep decent players from making lateral moves (in terms of quality) to the Norwegian and Danish leagues for tons more money. This is what will draw fans to the stadiums and eyeballs to the TV. Otherwise, if they’re content with treading water quality wise, they’ll never do any better than treading water businesswise.

  • Kingsnake

    +1 comment B said

    They might also want to spend a bit of cash on referee training, so they learn to recognize (and have the balls to properly sanction) careless, reckless and excessive force fouls. Less hacking = more open play.

  • It’s because they’re not drawing enough fans because the quality on the pitch isn’t good enough. Cheap Arizona Cardinals Jerseys