Wednesday, March 5, 2008

PGA Tour Players Union Rehashed

Almost one month ago exactly, I wrote a blog entry here about the rationale behind a PGA Tour Player Union that seems to be floating around in some Tour circles as a way to respond to Rule 78 and drug testing. ESPN, a little behind the curve, had it's Fact or Fiction team debate the subject today on the .com. The verdict: two think the Union is dumb, one thinks it is a good idea.

The key point from Bob Harig (voting against the Union) is one that, in my post, got contrary treatment. First, Harig:

But any card-carrying member of the PGA Tour would be hard-pressed to say that things are so bad that union representation is necessary. In addition to playing for a minimum of $5 million a week, the PGA Tour has one of the best -- if not the best -- pension plans of any sport. And that is despite independent contractor status that players to dearly cling to. They get courtesy cars, free meals. Most players have lucrative endorsement deals.
Then, me:
Money matters still prevail ten years later. From increasing numbers of limited field events to the lack of viable alternatives to those limited field events, players are unhappy with how the Tour is rewarding the upper echelon with free money. A PGA Tour union would likely seek collective bargaining on the issues of cuts, drug testing, payment to players weekly and to their pensions, and other issues that come up from time to time.
Resolution: Yes, the PLAYERS are getting a lot of money guaranteed every week to play. But, some are getting much better treatment than others thanks to lots of invitational and limited field events cropping up each year. Still, Harig is right that the PGA Tour pension is unbelievably good.

Then, there's conflicting points from Jason Sobel (voting against the Union) and Ron Sirak of GolfWorld (voting for the Union) about player rights as "independent contractors."

Players are free to make their own decisions on scheduling matters or, really, anything else, as long as it's within tour bylaws.
But, those Tour bylaws can be awfully restrictive for supposed "independent contractors," as Sirak mentions.
If the players are independent contractors, how come there is a minimum number of tournaments they have to play each year? If they are independent, how come they have to get tour permission to play in conflicting events? If they are independent, how come they have to pay a rights fee to the tour when they appear on TV in a non-tour event? And if they are independent, how come they had to agree not to sue the tour over the final results of a failed drug test?
In essence, it appears that Sirak is posturing that the players have to abide by Tour bylaws to be a member of the Tour. The problem is that the bylaws are actually very restrictive. There are event minimums, kickbacks to the Tour, and restrictions on playing outside of the PGA Tour. A player union may actually be able to address those issues.

1 comment:

jason said...
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