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Baseball strike of 1994-95 jarred owners, union to forge labor peace

Publication Date: 
November 29, 2011
Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, FL)
Craig Davis

Professor Bill Gould spoke with Craig Davis of the Sun-Sentinal on how recent baseball negotiations have been relatively tame compared to those in the NBA and why is could be from lessons learned in past labor negotiations.

The NBA careened its way to labor accord in the usual manner: canceling games, alienating fans and costing those on the periphery who don't have a stake in the big money.

Amid all the acrimonious sound bites, Major League Baseball announced a new collective bargaining agreement last week following negotiations without a peep of public posturing.


"I think they've learned from both the steroids era and the labor disputes how important it is to stay ahead of the curve on the difficult issues," said Gould, whose book "Bargaining With Baseball: Labor Relations in an Age of Prosperous Turmoil" traces the contentious history.


Why was it so difficult for the NBA to find common ground in dividing $4 billion in revenue? Gould sees key differences from baseball. Notably, a number of NBA teams are in financial distress.

"We've got enormous disparities in baseball, but they are not as polarized as basketball is. No [major league] team is really imperiled economically," he said.

Another factor, according to Gould, is in the differing resolve of the respective players unions.


Gould pointed out that NBA owners have become accustomed to pushing the players association around.


"Everybody is prospering, everybody is doing very well," Gould said. "I think there is a tremendous incentive on the part of rational people not to rock the boat."