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MLSPU's Foose Calls New CBA "Watershed Moment," But Is His Job In Jeopardy?

MLSPU's Foose Calls New CBA "Watershed Moment," But Is His Job In Jeopardy?

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Dunivant said the deal was the best the players could have received
MLSPU Exec Dir Bob Foose said the introduction of free agency to MLS through the new CBA was “a watershed moment” for the league, according to Paul Tenorio of the ORLANDO SENTINEL. Foose emphasized that players did what "few unions in professional sports leagues have been able to do without a work stoppage: won free agency ... despite existing less than 12 years as a union." Foose: "What we got is by no means perfect, I certainly wouldn’t say anything different, but we broke new ground and we broke new ground on what was most important to us in negotiations. I’m proud of what we got done and there’s lots more work to be done, and to that point the 5-year term was essential to getting the deal done on our side because there will be things to fix in free agency and will be improvements we want to make, no doubt about that. To be able to get back to the table in five years instead of eight years was big progress as well." MLS' salary cap -- including a new allocation fund -- has increased to $3.74M in '15, a 21% jump from '14, and that budget space "is set to increase" at a rate of approximately 7% per year over the life of the CBA. The salary cap numbers "have come under the most criticism in the new deal, with critics saying that the players may have been able to extract more money from the owners had they gone on strike" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 3/7). Galaxy D and MLSPU Exec Board member Todd Dunivant: "We were willing to walk and go into that abyss of the strike. It’s a huge, heavy decision. We had a deal in front of us that we just didn’t like. It was clear that we weren’t going to take it and there was a big decision to make and we made a big decision. ... Ultimately, the deal we took was, in my mind and in the majority of guys’ minds, the best deal we could’ve received. That’s our job, to get the absolute best offer in front of us" (SI.com, 3/6).

TICK-TOCK OF THE DEAL: ESPN FC's Jeff Carlisle took a look behind the scenes of the CBA talks and noted the MLSPU last Tuesday night "voted 18-1, with one abstention, to go on strike." The MLSPU said that under no circumstances "would it accept the MLS proposal that the CBA last eight years." The deal "also had to contain a form of free agency, with eligible free agents able to garner bigger raises" than the 10% that had been offered. From there, momentum toward a deal "began to increase." The MLSPU then "began to find more common ground with those on the other side of the table," a group that MLS Commissioner Don Garber, President & Deputy Commissioner Mark Abbott, Proskauer attorney Bob Batterman, Whitecaps Owner Greg Kerfoot, FC Dallas Chair Clark Hunt, Revolution Owner/Operator Jonathan Kraft and AEG President & CEO Dan Beckerman, who oversees the Galaxy and Dynamo. Galaxy President Chris Klein also was present and "given his involvement as a player rep during the last CBA negotiations five years ago, his insight no doubt proved helpful." The negotiation also "wasn't a situation where everyone was in the room at the same time." Mediators Scot Beckenbaugh and Peter Donatello were "shuttling back and forth." Talks stretched until 6:00am ET on Wednesday and after a break of several hours, negotiations resumed "with increasing optimism." FC Dallas G Dan Kennedy said that had the union gone on strike, "there was concern that some of the gains made during negotiations would have been taken off the table." Crew D and player rep Michael Parkhurst admitted that he "felt the union left some money on the table." Parkhurst: "There's no sugarcoating it, we took a hit there, we were hoping for a higher salary budget." Rumblings of discontent within some parts of the union membership "have led to speculation that Foose's job is in jeopardy." Sources said that the number of owners at the table "was intentionally limited, and helped them maintain a united front" (ESPNFC.com, 3/7).

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