Have Players Unions Outlived Their Purpose?
Have unions (other than the Major League Baseball Players Association) outlived their purpose? It is a question that super-agent Arn Tellem of Wasserman Media Group posed in a recent New York Times article. While I have not yet had the opportunity to meet Tellem in person, he is certainly very respected amongst the agent community and always seems to communicate very intelligently when he shares his words with the general public. A couple of paragraphs from the NYT article:
For years, the N.F.L. and the N.B.A. have found their players associations to be unwitting partners. Rather than compete in a free market, management has exploited the weaknesses of unions to inhibit competition. By shielding owners from the scrutiny of antitrust laws, the unions have effectively allowed collusion. More often than not, the result has been union retreat — on salary caps, salary scales and taxes.
Something is fundamentally wrong when the only effective weapon in a union’s arsenal is dissolution. The hard-won early victories — health benefits, minimum wage — have been overshadowed by the sacrifices that players are now not just asked, but also expected to make.
Picture a scenario where the NFLPA decides it will remain a trade association instead of re-certifying as a union. What then?