Monday, March 15, 2010

Sigi Schmidt on the MLS CBA

Former Crew Skipper and soccer Zen Master Sigi Schmid this week had some perhaps unintentionally prophetic words on the current MLS labor showdown. Speaking on World Football Daily, the current Seattle Sounders coach drew on his background in business and accounting to size up the negotiations underway in D.C. between league management and the MLS Players Union.

"It's a negotiation, and when there's a negotiation there's going to be compromise, and compromise means that both parties give up something and both parties gain something," Schmid told WFD's Stephen Cohen and Kenney Hassan. "So, nobody gets their absolute world. Nobody ends up with the world according to the way they want it, and the other group doesn't end up with the world the way they wanted it. It ends up being somewhere in the middle."

"The give and take's got to come from both sides."

Whether he knew it or not, Schmid hit on the fundamental root of the current stand off. This is it: After 15 years of absolute control over the terms of labor in MLS, the men who control the capital, the owners find it inconceivable that they should give anything up. They have been incapable of compromise.

So, the negotiations have failed, the Collective Bargaining Agreement has expired, and we now sit just 7 days from a strike. And make no mistake, if the owners do not compromise, there will be a strike.

Speaking on Fox Football Fone In on Monday night, Kansas City Wizards union representative Josh Wolff reinforced all the signals that has been coming in to MLS Solidarity, the fan support group for the union.

"We obviously have a long week ahead of us ... We don't want to disappoint the fans," he said. "But unless there's something there that's fair for the players -- and that's all we're really asking for -- unless that's there, then we don't expect to be starting the season."

For his part, Schmid was characteristically balanced and hopeful.

"I can understand some of the points the players are raising. I can understand some of the points the owners are raising as well," he said.

A working class German immigrant, Schmid said the only experience he has had with work a stoppage was his brewery-worker father walking out with the Teamsters, which he said made for tough times.
"I've got my fingers crossed that it doesn't happen," he said.

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