North American Soccer League team owners met yesterday with the players union for their first bargaining session, nearly two years after the National Labor Relations Board ruled that the owners must engage in collective bargaining with the union.
Ed Garvey, staff director for the North American Soccer League Players association, called the closed session held at the Madison Hotel positive, but said issues were discussed only in general terms. The meeting lasted more than two hours. The talks are scheduled to continue today with a six-hour session in which future negotiations will be planned.
Garvey said he was "encouraged (because) at least we're at the bargaining table."
Garvey said the owners released documentation on players' salaries, which previously had to be obtained from individual players, insurance information and data on local television contracts. He said figures on the league's national TV contract with ABC were not made available.
The owners' labor counsel, Robert F. Rolnick, rushed out of the meeting, saying, "No comment, I have a plane to catch."
NASL Commissioner Phil Woosnam said the meeting was "positive, but in fairness to the parties concerned, I'll have to leave it to them to discuss the substance of the talks. I'm just an observer."
Garvey said the negotiations will be aimed at "the whole issue of wages . . . equitable procedure for handling disputes, partial arbitration, injury insurance -- some clubs have very limited insurance, some have none -- pension and disability."