Saturday, February 19, 2011

VIDEO: Gary Bettman, Rob Manfred, and ILR in Pro Sports

What are some similarities and differences in collective bargaining between professional sports and traditional industry? Find out what NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman (ILR '74) and MLB EVP HR and Labor Relations Rob Manfred (ILR '80) say on the subject -- and what this has to do with the NFL-NFLPA negotiations -- in the video following the jump.


A year ago, I was honored to participate in the Human Resource Practices and Industrial Relations in Professional Sports ILR School Workplace Colloquium Series at the Cornell Club in New York City. Both Mr. Bettman and Mr. Manfred have spoken to our club separately in the past, but seeing them interact together and compare experiences added great insight to the relevant issues. Fortunately, video of these excellent remarks from Mr. Bettman and Mr. Manfred are posted online:





Questions discussed include:
  • Do players unions more play the role of trade associations or vigilant protectors of worker's (player's) rights?
  • How do labor and management bargain when the most relevant party -- the fans -- are not at the table?
  • How was the 2004-5 NHL lockout different from the 1994-5 MLB strike? Should government intervene in a private dispute?
  • Will MLB ever see a minimum payroll or international draft?
  • Are professional sports leagues a single entity or competing teams? How does this distinction fit into antitrust law?

Keep in mind, of course, that Bettman and Manfred offer management perspectives. How might Donald Fehr, current NHLPA Executive Director and former MLBPA Executive Director, respond to their comments? Where would he agree or disagree?

These issues are extremely relevant for the NFL-NFLPA negotiations, as the NFLPA has threatened to sue the NFL under antitrust law and the NFL reacted by filing an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for failure to bargain in good faith. Both parties recently agreed to Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) mediation. FMCS Director (and Cornell undergrad and law alum) George Cohen has issued an introductory statement. Their collective bargaining agreement expires in less than two weeks. What, if anything, can the NFL and NFLPA learn from labor relations in hockey and baseball?

If non-ILRies have any questions on the terms used here, I'm happy to do my best to explain.