May
08

The Impact Of Agents On Union Solidarity And Collective Bargaining

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For his paper on “The Impact of Agents on Union Solidarity and Collective Bargaining in Major Professional Sports,” Alex Stolls interviewed former NFLPA executive Richard Berthselsen.

Last Friday I had the honor of moderating a panel at the 2013 ABA Forum on the Entertainment and Sports Industries in Miami Beach, Florida.  The topic of my panel was the legal and business issues under various collective bargaining agreements.  For those in attendance, I hope that you enjoyed.

As I was making preparations to moderate the panel, I received an email from a Penn State undergraduate Senior named Alex Stolls, who will shortly be graduating with degrees in Finance and Labor Studies.  I had recently met Stolls when I went up to Penn State to moderate a panel with Jay Reisinger and Jon Fetterolf on “Baseball and the Law.”  Stolls attached a copy of his independent study project to the email and offered that I publish it on Sports Agent Blog.  Embedded below, please find his finished product titled, “The Impact of Agents on Union Solidarity and Collective Bargaining in Major Professional Sports.”

The thirty-two page paper focuses on the sports agent profession and starts with asking the questions:

“Agents are one of the most popularized and essential pieces of the professional sports pie, but when did this happen? When did agents become this important, even “part of the union family” as labor lawyer and former Interim Executive Director of the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) Richard Berthelsen put it during my discussions with him. What has been the general impact of agents on union solidarity and collective bargaining throughout history? And perhaps even more important, what is the current landscape of the agent business and where is it heading?”

The author then states that agents have done more to harm union solidarity than to help it.  Near the close of the Introduction section, the author writes, “However, this research paper will ultimately claim that agents play an imperative role in today’s professional sports landscape as a sounding board and go-between for the league, union, and players.”

Stolls concludes his paper by saying that even though an agent’s primary concern is the well-being of his/her clientele, “the familiarity and interdependent relationship of these agents and the union essentially forces these two groups to work together.  The union relies on agents to keep their clients informed and committed to supporting union goals, and agents rely on the union to negotiate fiercely on behalf of the players. With that being said I am confident that as agents continue to become more important they will continue the trend of being a constructive go-between and sounding board for players, management, and the union.”

The Impact of Agents on Union Solidarity and Collective Bargaining in Major Professional Sports