The North American Soccer League Players Association scored its biggest victory in its three-year battle for a collective bargaining agreement with management yesterday when a federal judge in New York enjoined the NASL owners from holding further indoor or outdoor season until reaching a pact with the player's union.
The seven-point injunction issued by Judge Constance Motley of the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, which will have no effect on the current season, will be appealed, said Robert F. Rolnick, general counsel for the owners.
The injunction states:
The NASL management must stop soliciting and negotiating with individual players.
Management must refrain from implementing its 1980 winter indoor season prior to good faith bargaining with the players.
All provisions and clauses of player contracts are rendered voidable at the option of the players association.
NASL squad sizes must be restored from the current number of 26 players to 30 players, the number retained during the 1979 season, pending negotiations.
The NASL season must be reduced to its 1979 level of 30 games from the 1980 number of 32 games, pending negotiations.
NASL players have the right to collect all provisions within their current contracts.
Players may wear any brand of footwear they desire rather than makes specified by management, pending negotiations.
"This is a big day for us," NASLPA Staff Director Ed Garvey said. "This has to get them (the owners) started because they can't drag their feet any longer. They've lost every case. They keep stalling, but their record is abysmal. They're like 0-for-20 in court cases.
"All they have to do is work out a reasonable agreement with the union. Then they're in relatively good shape. They'll have a stable labor situation and they'll be able to get around to the business of making money."
The NASLPA was orgainzed in August 1977 and was certified as the sole bargaining agent for the players by the National Labor Relations Board on Sept. 1, 1978. The NLRB filed the suit that resulted in yesterday's injunction.
"The union has every right to be happy," said Timothy J. English, the NLRB attorney who argued the case before Judge Motley yesterday. "This is a precedent-setting event in sports. It established the union's right to be the exclusive bargaining agent for the players.
"The owners said the judge should not order an injunction because they were planning to include all of these points in the current negotiations. The (players) union said this was not sufficient because in the past two years they (the owners) have bargained individually in disregard to the union's role as the players' exclusive bargaining agent."
The players union and owners met for their first bargaining session ever Aug. 12 in Washington, following a March court order in New Orleans forcing the owners to the bargaining table and the expiration on April 23 of the stay management obtained of that decision. The two days of meetings here allowed an exchange of information before the owners went back into private session.
Derek J. Carroll, president of the New England Tea Men and chairman of the owners executive committee said owners met Monday to discuss "our plans for the promotion of soccer and the long-ranging plans for the sports in North America."
Carroll said that since negotiations had begun, the injunction would not have much effect on the owner's plans to reach agreement with the players.
"Since there has never been an agreement before, there's an awful lot to talk through and it is our opinion that there has to be a comprehensive agreement to cover all (contingencies)." Carroll said.
"What we have asked the union for is, in writing, what they expect from out agreement and we will review it as to what we believe is in the best interest of soccer in North America.
"I imagine we will be meeting with them weekly unitl we reach a comprehensive agreement that will benefit the game of soccer. I think the union has to understand more about soccer, which it doesn't, and that will be our responsibility to apprise them."
Rolnick said he had not received a copy of the injunction to read, "so it would be inappropriate for me to comment on it . . . but as you know we've begun negotiations with the players union. We expect those negotiations will produce an agreement. We expect that agreement will include the points included in the court's decision."
Rolnick said an appeal would be filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit in New York, and hoped it would be handled "expeditiously."
"They can hope for a stay or have the decision overturned," Garvey said, "but until then they're going to have to obey the order."