Tuesday October 3, 2023

Union Leaders for MLB, NFL, NHL Support Writer’s Strike 

  • “The people on the other side, I hate to tell you this, they don’t give a (expletive) about you,” MLBPA’s Bruce Meyer says as Rob Manfred gets a contract extension.
  • NFLPA’s Lloyd Howell on union solidarity: “As you can see most recently with our running backs, it’s ongoing.”
The NFLPA's Lloyd Howell, MLBPA's Bruce Meyer, and NHLPA's Marty Walsh all showed solidarity with the WGA.
Photo by Andrew Cohen.
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NEW YORK – Leaders from three major sports unions attended a picket line event held Wednesday to support the Writer’s Guild of America’s ongoing labor strike facing Hollywood.

Speakers at the WGA’s Sports Solidarity Day held outside CBS Broadcast Center in Manhattan included new NFLPA executive director Lloyd Howell, MLBPA deputy executive director Bruce Meyer, and NHLPA executive director Marty Walsh.

“All of the years I’ve been representing unions, I’ve learned one or two things. The people on the other side, I hate to tell you this, they don’t give a shit about you,” Meyer said to loud applause. “All they care about is power—they don’t care about the strength of your arguments. They don’t care about what’s fair. They don’t care what’s right. All they recognize is power. What power do you have over fat cats? What power do we have over 30 billionaires who we sit across the table from? The power you have is what you’re doing right now. The power you have is the power to withhold your services. That’s what it’s all about for a union.”

Meyer, a sports lawyer at the MLBPA since 2018 and was previously at the NHLPA, detailed the collective bargaining issues he and MLBPA leader Tony Clark have fought for in recent years, including historic salary increases for minor leaguers. 

“We fought with the league in 2020, when they wanted us to give them almost a billion dollars of our players’ salaries just because Covid was tough on them. We fought in 2021 when they locked us out,” Meyer said. “Recently, we represented the minor leaguers who had never been unionized. Basically, the owners have been treating them like shit for decades. We formed a union, we did it quickly, and took the other side by surprise. They had to agree to things that they never had before—basic protections that union members have, a grievance procedure, basic due process, and of course doubling and tripling their salaries.”

Howell, who the NFLPA selected in June to succeed DeMaurice Smith, mentioned the deflation of running back salaries in his speech, sympathizing with the writer’s strike.

“We’re behind you; it’s very important to our union that we show a unified front,” Howell said. “As you can see most recently with our running backs, it’s ongoing. “We’ve got representatives for former NFL players that are also members of WGA, also in SAG. We will continue to work with you on all your efforts and what you’re trying to get done because, in many ways, we’re trying to get the same things done in our union.”

Howell recalled holding picket signs as a child in the 1970s alongside his mother, a school teacher in Philadelphia fighting for better wages. Howell was previously chief financial officer at Booz Allen, the defense contractor that recently paid a $377 million fraud settlement to the U.S. government.  

“You always are going to be fighting—every day, every hour—it’s a constant battle. I know, I used to be on the other side of the table,” Howell said Wednesday. 

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