CBA Update

Chicago Fire v Los Angeles Galaxy

Fire midfielders Logan Pause and John Thorrington did not train with the team Monday or Tuesday. Instead, the pair of central midfielders -- who also happen to be the Fire's Union Representatives -- were in Washington D.C., sitting in on collective bargaining agreement negotiations between MLS and the Players' Union.

"We haven't heard from [Pause and Thorrington] yet," Fire forward Brian McBride said to a group of reporters after the Fire's Tuesday morning practice. "I'm sure they'll be back with some news [on Wednesday]."

All parties involved will be hoping that Thorrington and Pause come back to Chicago bearing good news. Thus far, negotiations for a new CBA have been progressing slowly. The current deal expired last month and the players have already decided **that they will [begin a strike on Monday](http://www.soccerbyives.net/soccer_by_ives/2010/03/players-union-set-to-strike-on-monday.html) should no new deal be hashed out before then**. "We're hoping that this week is a big change for them and that they've at least considered some of our proposal," said veteran Fire defender C.J. Brown after Tuesday's training session. "It's pretty much out there. If they don't want to budge on anything then it's a done deal; we'll strike and hope for the best."

The main sticking point in negotiations has been the issue of free agency. Currently, the league doesn't allow players to move freely between teams when their contracts expire or they are waived. The players want to change that. The league does not.

"Players want to be able to have the freedom to -- if they're out of a job -- to be able to go to someone else and [negotiate]," McBride said.

Ultimately, neither McBride nor Brown wants to see the players strike. But both are serious about what they want to see change and each understand the reality of what will happen if the league and the players can't agree to a new deal before next Thursday's first kick.

"Guys don't want to strike; they want to play," Brown said. "They would rather be playing than sitting at home or doing something else so hopefully we can come up with an agreement."

"It's not something that you ever want to do," McBride said of a potential strike. "We enjoy doing this and it's a great job but unfortunately things like this come up... It's just like any other business. You have to understand that different groups have different things they want and you can hopefully come to an agreement. But as players we feel very strongly about some of the things we are pushing for."

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Obviously, I'll have much more on this situation as it progresses. And while most of the news coming out on the CBA is muddled, one thing is clear: the players are definitely willing to strike. Hopefully it won't come to that. But in the interim, the league will hopefully heed C.J.'s advice and take the players "seriously."

Comments

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  • IMO I think these owners; Chicago, Chivas, Toronto, Philly, NYC, Seattle, and Dallas willing to negotiate they have the most to lose

  • Sam, I'm curious if you approached any of the other players for quotes on the CBA, and whether they 'no commented' or what. It's not surprising to me that McBride and Brown are the only ones willing to comment on this article because of their seniority and age. (e.g. They're not worried about repercussions as they would probably both retire if someone got upset about their comments.)

    Anyhow, I'm asking just to see if my suspicions are correct that the younger guys with a fair bit of career ahead of themselves didn't want to speak out on this issue.

  • In reply to Byron:

    Unfortunately, I'm not really able to answer your question as the only players I spoke with were CJ, Brian, Collins John and Corben Bone. Being that John and Bone are both very new to MLS, I didn't ask them about the CBA. However, I would guess that CJ and Brian being so forward with their comments had a little to do with their "seniority and age" as you put it. I don't think either of them are scared of being called out by someone -- either in the league or the union.

  • In reply to SamuelStejskal:

    I would like to hear what John has to say about this. The only reason players would strike anywhere else in the league is because they havent been paid in months, not because they want to be free agents when their deals expire...

  • In reply to Byron:

    I doubt that those 2 would just retire because the owners didnt like what they said.

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    I'm not saying they would retire at the drop of a hat... but no one in MLS could do any serious damage to the rest of their careers. They're pretty much approaching the end and so they're not worried about a quote somehow harming them years from now.

    A couple of years ago, (Maybe when the DBacks won the World Series), I saw an article about some guy who was still getting screwed by the MLBPA (Baseball union) for playing a couple of innings as a "scab" in 1994. The player had been a young kid at the time and went out to play because his boss told him to, not really taking into account the damage it would do his career when he made the bigs.

    These labor 'situations' can often define a guy in the eyes of their leaguemates for years to come.

  • Excuse my ignorance on the subject, but why would the league not want free agency? When a player is out of contract he needs to be able to go and find a job!

  • In reply to mwaech1:

    The league may want free agency but the owners do not.

    From what I think I know, if the players contract expires, the team still own his rights which means that a team that wants that player needs to work out a deal with that team. If Dallas wanted to sign Rolfe this offseason, they would have to work out a trade for his rights. Thats why you see teams trading for the rights to players.

    I think I'm right about that.

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    You are correct about that.

  • In reply to SamuelStejskal:

    http://www.nutmegradio.com/mls-free-agency-why-won%E2%80%99t-mls-budge/comment-page-1/#comment-548

    Nutmeg radio has a great explanation of the situation. So, are the owners making money on the out of contract player's rights? How much money, and what does that have to do with free agency undermining the single entity structure?

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