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OT: RIP Marvin Miller (Founder of MLBPA, mentor of Donald Fehr)

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11-27-2012, 12:08 PM
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kdb209
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OT: RIP Marvin Miller (Founder of MLBPA, mentor of Donald Fehr)

Marvin Miller, Union Leader Who Changed Baseball, Dies at 95

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Marvin Miller, an economist and labor leader who became one of the most influential figures in baseball history by building the major league players union into a force that revolutionized the game, died on Tuesday at his home in Manhattan. He was 95.
...
When Mr. Miller was named executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association in 1966, club owners ruled much as they had since the 19th century. The reserve clause bound players to their teams for as long as the owners wanted them, leaving them with little bargaining power. Come contract time, a player could expect an ultimatum but not much more. The minimum salary was $6,000 and had barely budged for two decades. The average salary was $19,000. The pension plan was feeble, and player grievances could be heard only by the commissioner, who worked for the owners.

By the time Mr. Miller retired at the end of 1982, he had forged one of the strongest unions in America, creating a model for unions in basketball, football and hockey. The average player salary had reached $241,000, the pension plan had become generous, and players had won free agency and were hiring agents to issue their own demands. If they had a grievance, they could turn to an arbitrator.

And Mr. Miller had taken his place among the most important figures in baseball. Peter Seitz, the impartial arbitrator who invalidated the reserve clause and created free agency in 1975, called him “the Moses who had led Baseball’s Children of Israel out of the land of bondage.”
And to get a fuller appreciation of Marvin Miller - and his foresight, patience and ability to execute the long game:

Quote:
Originally Posted by kdb209
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Originally Posted by kdb209 View Post
The Supreme Court never ruled the Reserve Clause unconstitutional - they wouldn't touch it with a 10 foot pole, leaving in effect their flawed 1922 and 1952 decisions granting MLB its unique anti trust exemption. When Curt Flood chalenged the Reserve Clause before the Supremes in 1972 - he lost.

The Reserve Clause was overturned by an Arbiter (Peter Seitz) under the dispute resolution terms of Baseball's Basic Agreement (the MLB CBA) - ruling on a grievance brought by McNally & Messersmith in 1975. The Seitz decision did not make "every player in baseball a free agent every year". Seitz ruled that under the Basic Agreement and MLB's SPC, if a player's contract expired, the Reserve Clause allowed a team to extend it for only one year - if he played out that year w/o a new contract, then he could become a free agent.

Now your original point still holds - Marvin Miller recognized that this could ultimately lead to a glut of free agents and that scarcity drives up salary - so the first thing the MLBPA did was to negotiate a new set of free agency rules. Among the owners, only Charlie Finley realized this and pushed, unsuccessfully, for complete free agency at the end of every contract.
And to get a fuller appreciation of Marvin Miller - and his patience and ability to execute the long game:

Quote:
Originally Posted by kdb209
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mayor Bee View Post
I think it was Tom Reich who said that he basically had this "eureka!" moment when he sat down and read the way it was worded. Everyone in the world said that the arbitration would go in favor of MLB, and Reich decided to look at the wording, and his reaction was something like, "This is it? Seriously? The players are going to win this."

Marvin Miller also was no dummy. The original test case was going to involve Mike Marshall, fresh off his NL Cy Young Award (the first for a reliever). He played without a contract, then was made an offer he couldn't refuse. So he dropped out, but Miller had taken a liking to him. So after McNally and Messersmith were granted free agency, Marshall publicly said (at Miller's prodding) that he had lawsuits prepared and ready to file if the MLBPA even thought about bargaining away any of this new freedom. Suddenly Miller's ferociously pro-union position looked like a moderate middle ground that the owners were happy to work around.
A really good short read on the "Demise of the Reserve Clause" - http://milkeespress.com/reserveclause.html . For a longer read, I strongly recommend John Helyar's "The Lords of the Realm" - a great book on the sports business history of baseball.

Miller was aware of the gray area concerning the wording of the Reserve Clause even before he became MLBPA head in 1966 - he just had to get a few ducks in a row first.

Quote:
A Route to Free Agency

Meanwhile, Marvin Miller was envisioning a different approach. The 48-year-old Miller had experience as an economist in the United Steelworkers of America when he became the first full-time executive director of the Players Association in 1966. Miller said he discovered the potential in Paragraph 10A even before he officially took office. “I did a double take the first time I saw it,” Miller said. “I couldn’t believe the whole reserve system rested on this.” Miller said he knew then that two elements were necessary for a challenge: a grievance system with an impartial arbitrator and a player who felt strongly about challenging Paragraph 10A to withstand the “brick bats” that would be thrown at him.6
Back then there was no grievance system - any disputes were settled informally and unilaterally by the Commissioner.

In the 1968 CBA he negotiated a formal grievance process - even if the Commissioner was still the arbiter.

In 1970 he got what he wanted an independent arbiter to hear grievances - actually a 3 man panel, one appointed by MLB, one by the PA, and one impartial agreed to by both sides.

The stage was set - but it took 5 years for Miller to finally find his test case.
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Originally Posted by kdb209
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Originally Posted by jumptheshark View Post
Uhm no

Ueberroth was in the room when the owners tried cap saleries and not sign UFA--All three times. I am pretty sure Fehr was the one who filed all those nasty lawsuits that forced the owners under oath to admitt they werem crooks and idiots
Minor nit. The Collusion I, II, & III cases in the 80's were not lawsuits - they were arbitration hearings under MLB's Basic Agreement (CBA) which has specific language which prohibited collusion on the part of players or owners (*). The courts were closed to the players under MLB's archaic anti-trust exemption. MLB owners had an antitrust exemption and still managed to mess things up - sheer stupidity and arrogance.

(*) Ironically, the anti-collusion language was inserted into the Basic Agreement in 1977 at the request the owners - who remembered when Drysdale & Koufax held out together in 1966. Marvin Miller, he of tremendous foresight, agreed - as long at the term prohibited collusion by both players and teams ("Players shall not act in concert with other players and clubs shall not act in concert with other clubs").


Last edited by kdb209: 11-27-2012 at 12:17 PM.
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11-27-2012, 12:17 PM
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No Fun Shogun
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RIP

He may have opened pandora's box, but he knocked some badly needed sense into the owners of baseball and helped end a lot of their monopolistic practices over ownership of player rights. The fact that he's not in the hall of fame is absolutely abhorrent.

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11-27-2012, 12:18 PM
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there would be people on this board whining about some of the things he did if he did those things today. Not that anyone is anti-union around here.
Every player, in every sport owes this guy a debt of gratitude for what he did.

RIP.

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11-27-2012, 01:17 PM
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.... good long innings for that one. Ive seen it opined by more than just a few pretty bright legal minds & pundits that it was/is in actuality Miller behind the wheel of the Bus Don Fehr's been driving throughout his career. Ever the understudy.

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11-27-2012, 03:03 PM
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RIP

I can't say I agree with his approach, but he did revolutionize the professional sports.

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11-27-2012, 03:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nailor Hopberle View Post
RIP

I can't say I agree with his approach, but he did revolutionize the professional sports.
What exactly do you disagree with?

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11-27-2012, 03:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fantasybaseballchamp View Post
What exactly do you disagree with?
The hardliner, union mentality.

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11-27-2012, 03:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nailor Hopberle View Post
The hardliner, union mentality.
He had a reason to be a hardliner, look at the system he came into in baseball. Even if you disagree with today's labor disputes, you have to acknowledge serious reform was needed when he took over the MLBPA.

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11-27-2012, 03:27 PM
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RIP Marvin Miller

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11-27-2012, 03:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fantasybaseballchamp View Post
He had a reason to be a hardliner, look at the system he came into in baseball. Even if you disagree with today's labor disputes, you have to acknowledge serious reform was needed when he took over the MLBPA.
I agree to a certain extent, just went too far. But I don't want to clutter this thread any more than I already have. He was a very influential person in professional sports, and I respect him for that. RIP.

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11-27-2012, 04:58 PM
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Not to be disrespectful or anything... but the timing is terrible, doesn't this just give Fehr one more excuse to put off negotiations for a few days?

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11-27-2012, 09:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by No Fun Shogun View Post
RIP

He may have opened pandora's box, but he knocked some badly needed sense into the owners of baseball and helped end a lot of their monopolistic practices over ownership of player rights. The fact that he's not in the hall of fame is absolutely abhorrent.
Player rights was far from the only thing that he worked on. Give "Ball Four" a read sometime if you get the chance (and haven't done so already). There was no consistency and no actual process for everything from a per diem to moving expenses to the handling of trades.

What Miller did on the small scale was achieve consistency across the board to prevent players from being jerked around (as they were), and basically lead a lot of undereducated players from a land of, "That's just how things have always been done".

Quote:
Originally Posted by Killion View Post
.... good long innings for that one. Ive seen it opined by more than just a few pretty bright legal minds & pundits that it was/is in actuality Miller behind the wheel of the Bus Don Fehr's been driving throughout his career. Ever the understudy.
It's been said, but I honestly don't buy it. Miller was someone very aware of not looking like an extremist; in a quoted post of mine in the OP, I mentioned it. By letting the perceived extremists have their say, he looked like the pragmatic centrist.

But I don't think it's a simple matter of perception. Miller began with the Machinists' Union, then the UAW and the Steelworkers. In each case, the union went through its heyday under his watch and then collapsed afterward. The simple reason is that Miller's successors (much like Fehr) regarded simple common sense as an act of war, and the stubborn refusal to acknowledge basic economic facts led to the demise of the industries themselves. I live in Ohio; I can drive less than two hours and find the abandoned hulks of steel mills, factories, and machine shops that went bankrupt because of Miller's successors.

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11-28-2012, 12:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mayor Bee View Post
Player rights was far from the only thing that he worked on. Give "Ball Four" a read sometime if you get the chance (and haven't done so already). There was no consistency and no actual process for everything from a per diem to moving expenses to the handling of trades.

What Miller did on the small scale was achieve consistency across the board to prevent players from being jerked around (as they were), and basically lead a lot of undereducated players from a land of, "That's just how things have always been done".



It's been said, but I honestly don't buy it. Miller was someone very aware of not looking like an extremist; in a quoted post of mine in the OP, I mentioned it. By letting the perceived extremists have their say, he looked like the pragmatic centrist.

But I don't think it's a simple matter of perception. Miller began with the Machinists' Union, then the UAW and the Steelworkers. In each case, the union went through its heyday under his watch and then collapsed afterward. The simple reason is that Miller's successors (much like Fehr) regarded simple common sense as an act of war, and the stubborn refusal to acknowledge basic economic facts led to the demise of the industries themselves. I live in Ohio; I can drive less than two hours and find the abandoned hulks of steel mills, factories, and machine shops that went bankrupt because of Miller's successors.
Please tell me more. No business "going concern" should go bankrupt based on deals they signed unless the mgmt is incompetent.

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11-28-2012, 02:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Legionnaire11 View Post
Not to be disrespectful or anything... but the timing is terrible, doesn't this just give Fehr one more excuse to put off negotiations for a few days?
Bettman was the one who wanted things put off for 2 weeks.

But I guess he was just "bluffing"

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11-28-2012, 08:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Legionnaire11 View Post
Not to be disrespectful or anything... but the timing is terrible, doesn't this just give Fehr one more excuse to put off negotiations for a few days?
I don't really think a couple of days matters at this point. This season has already been flushed down the toilet. And I think that owners planned it all along.

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11-28-2012, 10:43 AM
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I sure wouldn't want "mentor of Donald Fehr" in my obituary....

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11-28-2012, 02:09 PM
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http://www.slate.com/articles/sports...haped_the.html

Nice obit about how Miller worked with small concessions that built in the players favour, rather than the grand gesture.

Don't think Fehr learned that part.

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11-28-2012, 02:28 PM
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Originally Posted by LarmerSavardSecord View Post
Please tell me more. No business "going concern" should go bankrupt based on deals they signed unless the mgmt is incompetent.
The Steelworkers Union in particular had no concept of economic cycling, and how vulnerable the industry is to economic jolts.

During the old days, strikes (planned and wildcat both) were somewhat common. As time went on, there was some type of equilibrium that was established during the span of around 1955-70. When the downturns began, the union heads had the idea that nothing had changed. Pay stagnation was an act of war. Adjustments in hour calculations were an act of war. Everything was an act of war. To even talk about it behind closed doors was an act of war as well, and the only way to combat it was by threatening to strike.

By failing to recognize that the conditions had changed, and that the steel industry was suffering because every industry was suffering, it set the stage for 1977. Tethered to a union that could not recognize what was plainly obvious, the steel manufacturers began to suffer greatly. Profits declined, and eventually gave way to actual operating losses.

Black Monday came on September 19, 1977. That's when Youngstown Sheet & Tube announced their closure, which put around 5,000 workers out of a job almost immediately. US Steel was gone from the area by 1980. Ohio was absolutely devastated by the collapse of manufacturing, and in some ways has never truly recovered. For Youngstown specifically, the largest employer today is actually Youngstown State University. Perhaps someday the Lordstown manufacturing can grow (as it has slowly), but Youngstown and good chunks of Northeast Ohio are in shambles compared to what they were 35 years ago.

It wasn't a simple case of "inept management". It was a group of businesses that were stuck dealing with short-sighted and corrupt manufacturing unions. Had the pragmatists (which a guy like Marvin Miller truly was) had their day, Black Monday wouldn't have happened, and we'd still be going strong and growing strong.

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11-28-2012, 06:04 PM
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Grange says Fehr may have missed the message:

http://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/nhl-l...r_donald_fehr/

The task for Fehr -- and one he seems to be failing to grasp -- is that while the fundamental challenge in sports labour remains the same since Miller took up the battle, the path towards the goal needs to change.

The mission is obvious: Make sure that every player gains the maximum benefit possible from playing professional hockey -- or any other sport -- both now and in retirement.

But how to get there changed in 2004-05 when the NHL and NHLPA agreed to link player salaries with league revenues.

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11-29-2012, 06:25 PM
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NBCSN CNBC Sport Biz segment on Miller, including phone call with Don Fehr.


Repeats at 11:30pm ET today, 12:30am, 7pm Saturday, 1:30am, 4pm Sunday


(Nothing earth shattering)

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11-29-2012, 08:08 PM
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too bad alan eagleson did not share miller's dedication to help out the players...

you can say marvin miller was and alan eagleson was the devil...

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11-29-2012, 08:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mayor Bee View Post
The Steelworkers Union in particular had no concept of economic cycling, and how vulnerable the industry is to economic jolts.

During the old days, strikes (planned and wildcat both) were somewhat common. As time went on, there was some type of equilibrium that was established during the span of around 1955-70. When the downturns began, the union heads had the idea that nothing had changed. Pay stagnation was an act of war. Adjustments in hour calculations were an act of war. Everything was an act of war. To even talk about it behind closed doors was an act of war as well, and the only way to combat it was by threatening to strike.

By failing to recognize that the conditions had changed, and that the steel industry was suffering because every industry was suffering, it set the stage for 1977. Tethered to a union that could not recognize what was plainly obvious, the steel manufacturers began to suffer greatly. Profits declined, and eventually gave way to actual operating losses.

Black Monday came on September 19, 1977. That's when Youngstown Sheet & Tube announced their closure, which put around 5,000 workers out of a job almost immediately. US Steel was gone from the area by 1980. Ohio was absolutely devastated by the collapse of manufacturing, and in some ways has never truly recovered. For Youngstown specifically, the largest employer today is actually Youngstown State University. Perhaps someday the Lordstown manufacturing can grow (as it has slowly), but Youngstown and good chunks of Northeast Ohio are in shambles compared to what they were 35 years ago.

It wasn't a simple case of "inept management". It was a group of businesses that were stuck dealing with short-sighted and corrupt manufacturing unions. Had the pragmatists (which a guy like Marvin Miller truly was) had their day, Black Monday wouldn't have happened, and we'd still be going strong and growing strong.
you can also add foreign competition that used cheap labor to manufacture steel at a lower cost really put the nail in the coffin for american manufacturing base....

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