The newly formed North American Soccer League Player's Association formally requested recognition from league owners during the first meeting of the association held yesterday.
Players from all 18 NASL clubs attended the first of two days of meetings held at the Washington offices of the NFL Player's Association.
League owners, meeting in Portland, were expected to consider the telephone request late yesterday.Commissioner Phil Woosman promised NFLPA executive director Ed Garvey that the union "would be the first item on the agenda," Garvey said yesterday.
Garvey and former Washington Diplomat John Kerr, the chief officer of the new union - although his actual title has not yet been decided - said they thought things would be easier for both parties if the owners agreed voluntarily to recognize the union.
"We pointed out that voluntary recognition would benefit all of us involved in soccer," Kerr said. "A lot of what we do Tuesday will depend on their reaction."
he players will meet again this morning to draw up a constitution and elect officers. They will also decide on Kerr's position. He is already on the NFLPA's payroll.
Garvey originally met with Woosman on Aug. 5, to ask for recognition. Woosman called him back on Aug. 12 and said the league was not prepared to recognize the union then but would make it the first item on the agenda at its meeting in Portland today.
Garvey and Kerr told Woosman they would file a petition with the National Labor Relations Board and did so on Aug. 16, but said in the meantime they would continue seek voluntary recognition.
"What we're doing her now is establishing the fact that we are an association and want to meet and want to meet and negotiate with the owners," Kerr said. "We also want the owners to recognize that we have appointed the NFLPA as our bargaining agent."
The NFLPA first become involved with soccer when its Board of Player Representatives voted in June to offer its help to the soccer players in organizing a union. "We felt all atletes working together, would be beneficial for all involved," Garvey said.
Garvey contacted Kyle rote Jr. of the Dallas Tornado and Al Trost of the St. Louis Stars and they, along with Kerr, became actively involved in recruiting players for the union.
On July 6 Garvey sent a memo to the players explaining why the NFLPA wanted to work with them and enclosed an approval card for each player to sign. Within two weeks 265 of the 335 players in the league had sent Garvey approval. The number has since risen to 306.
Kerr was appointed to his post almost immediately after being dropped by the Diplomats on July 16 and has traveled widely since then trying to convince players the union was a necessity.
"The most important thing we've done here is shown that we are real just by showing up, said Henry McCulley, player representative for the Connecticut BiCentennials.
Peter Short of the Minnesota Kicks, who reported at this team's majority owner, Jim Ruben, had told him he saw nothing wrong with voluntary approval of the union added that, "The No. 1 thing we want is to have a say in what is decided about the future of the league and soccer. That's our top priority."
The union is also publishing a biweekly newsletter called "Kickoff," which Kerr has been placed in charge of.
The Diplomats were represented at the meeting by defender Alex Pringel. Roy Willner is the club's alternate representative.