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Unions in Professional Sports Annotated Bibliography Sample

Unions in Professional Sports

Wong, G. (2009). The comprehensive guide to careers in sports. Jones & Bartlett Learning.

In chapter forty-three of this book, the author starts with defining a union as an organization that is selected to represent the employees. In relation to this topic, the athletes are the employees in professional sports. The author outlines two major responsibilities of the union:  the union represents the workers; therefore it negotiates for a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with the management and owners on their behalf.  Second, the union has the responsibility to administer the CBA. For instance, each of the major professional sports leagues in the United States has a players’ union. The union negotiates with the league and team owners on issues such as player benefits, agent regulation and representing players in legal matters with the league. In addition, the players’ union is responsible for ensuring that certain working conditions are met. These include the safety of the players, field condition and travel arrangements.

Covell, D., & Walker, S. Julie Siciliano in Peter W. Hess. (2003). Managing Sports Organizations: Responsibility for Performance.

In chapter five of this book, the author explains that the players union can also administer licensing programs to increase revenues for both the players and the union. However, there is a difference between licensing in the players and athletes unions. On one hand, the players’ union handles the bulk of licensing agreement in professional team sports. On the other hand, athlete in individual professional sports, through their agents and advisors usually handle licensing on their own.  This makes licensing money more difficult to attain for lesser-known individuals, as with commercial endorsements. However, the potential exists for highly recognizable individuals to earn significant licensing revenue over which they have more control. The author emphasizes this potential by illustrating the case of the well-known drivers in NASCAR. The top drivers earn more in licensing than from their racing salaries or winnings.

Shropshire, K. (Ed.). (2011). the Business of Sports. Jones & Bartlett Publishers.

Chapter nine explains that unions in professional sports are similar to industrial unions because both of them represent the collective interest of employees. Similarly, most of the sports leagues use a collective bargaining agreement to set forth their rules. The CBA creates a system of laws and guidelines that govern the relationship between the management and the union. These are hammered negotiations that is bounded by the economic weapons of a management lockout or union strike. The National Labor Relations Act legally protects both of them. In addition, the authors explain three reasons that make CBA to be essential in professional sports. First, in sports CBA is the basis for determining the parameters of a number of issues that fundamental to the success of the league. Some of the issues include the length of the season, salary mechanism and workplace integrity and discipline. Second, all unions in professional sports are composed of employees whose average career is less than five years long. Errors in CBA that cannot be corrected until the next agreement can effect player’s earning capacity for his entire career. Nonetheless, with an effective CBA in place, it can provide the player with financial security throughout his or her career. Third, the major leagues in professional sports represent the top level of competition due to the quality of the players in the league. The superior talent of the unionized workforce is recognizable even to the casual fans; therefore, during a work stoppage, the entire industry will typically shut down. However, an effective CBA ensures that the union and the management to agree on the arising issues. This chapter concludes that the both entities must decide whether it is worth shutting down an entire industry over their disagreements.

Louw, A. (2010). Sports law in South Africa. Kluwer Law International.

Similarly to the above entries, the author insists that collective bargaining has assumed a central role to determine the terms and conditions of employment of professional players. He explains that this phenomenon has been accompanied by the increased unionization of players both at domestic and international levels. Due to the peculiar economics of professional team sports, team owners have been active in enforcing mechanisms aimed at preserving competitive balance within sports league. However, the same balance has been lacking a collective action by the players in pursuit of equity and enforcement of their employment rights. The emergence and development of player association into fully-fledged trade unions has marked an important step. It is helping the professional players in strengthening their bargaining power.

Thornton, P.K. (2012). Sports law. Routledge.

In chapter 12 of this book, the author treats professional players as the employees of the team or league. When these players organize in labor unions, they receive protection under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). For instance, prior to its implementation, any drug testing program must be agreed by the management and union through a collective bargaining process. For instance, Major League Baseball owners could not impose a drug testing policy on players before entering into negotiation with the MLB Players Association.  In relation, the NLRA require that the owners and unions should meet at reasonable times and agree in good faith with respect to terms and conditions of employment such as wages and hours.

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Nafziger, J. A., & Ross, S. F. (Eds.). (2011). Handbook on International Sports Law. Edward Elgar Publishing.

In this book, the authors explain that through unions, professional players have an effective voice in promulgating the eligibility requirements. For most of these players, playing a sport is their primary occupation and source of income. Generally, they are employees of their respective clubs who are paid an agreed salary. On the other hand, professional athletes who participate in individual performer sports such as golf and tennis usually are independent contractors. In this case, they must satisfy the event organizer’s qualifying criteria in order to participate in organized competitions. Their compensation is based on their respective individual performance in competitions. In addition, authors review that union in professional sports have played a significant role in abolishing discriminatory eligibility requirements. For instance, for a long time, the African-American and Latino American were not included in professional sports. However, with the activities of the union, currently, some of the players in sports like football and basketball are Black Americans.

Parlow, M. J. (2010). Professional sports league commissioners’ authority and collective bargaining. Texas Review of Entertainment & Sports Law, 11, 179.

The author introduces this article by predicting the changes that may occur when the CBAs of National Basketball Association and National Football Associations expires. The potential disagreement is expected to be related to the authority of the respective league commissioners to impose disciplinary actions and punishment to players for misbehaved off the court or in the field. In the past decade, professional sports have seen an increase in disciplinary actions doled out by the league commissioners. Some players have acted inappropriate off the court or field.  The author emphasizes that inappropriate behaviors are criminal either naturally or embarrassing the league. For example, Michael Vick’s involvement in dog fighting and gambling and when MLB Commissioner suspended Pitcher John Rocker for making statements on a basis of racial discrimination.

Andreff, W. (2011).Contemporary Issues in Sports Economics: Participation and Professional Team Sports. Edward Elgar Publishing.

The author connects the contents of this book to the 1997 collective bargaining agreement between the Major League Baseball owners and players’ union. In particular, under the 1997 CBA the clubs were required to include a luxury tax that aimed at restraining the spending by the highest revenue- producing clubs. As a consequence it would become easier to promote and enhance the competitive balance. Second, this CBA considered changed the MLB’s system used to collect and the redistribute revenues that the clubs generates.

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Karush, M. B. (2013). Citizens and Sportsmen: Fútbol and Politics in Twentieth-Century Chile. Social History, 38(1), 127-128.

In this book, the author explains that as the unions’ membership increased, so did the importance of their sports clubs as social organizations.  For example, the union clubs made efforts to create a stronger presence in the communities in which their members often lived. They collaborated with neighborhood teams to organize campaigns against violence and gambling in football. Disagreements over bets often resulted in brawls between rival neighborhood clubs after matches.  In addition, players have taken the advantage of the publicity surrounding the union to demand for better pay and travel accommodations.

Mitten, M.J. (2011).Sports Law in The United States. Kluwer Law International.

In this book, the author illustrates that under part 11, Chapter 4 of Professional Athletes, the NLRB duly certifies a union. It becomes the exclusive bargaining agent for all employees within the unit. Practically, all active players in a US professional sport league come under the authority of the union selected to represent them. In addition, a player is not required to become a member of the union that NLRB certifies. However, the player is bound by the terms of any CBAs that it negotiates with the league and its member clubs. The players who are not active in the league in accordance to the bargaining unit are non-members of the union. Therefore, they do not the right to participate in voting processes of the union. Even so, to a larger extend, the actions of the union affect their rights. For example, college player who want to play professionally usually find that their eligibility and maximum compensation is determined by the CBA between the league and player union. It is also true in case of foreign players seeking opportunity to play in a unionized professional league in the United States of America.

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