Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 10/21/12 at 08:55 PM ET
from Jeff Z. Klein of the New York Times,
Last week was a dismal one for Donald Fehr and the N.H.L. Players’ Association, and not just because the owners flatly rejected the union’s offer to settle the N.H.L. lockout. For the first time since negotiations began last summer, public opinion seemed to have shifted: many fans, who had been blaming Commissioner Gary Bettman and the owners for the impasse, started to blame Fehr and the players.
Yet none of that is likely to sway Fehr, perhaps North America’s most effective union leader over the past three decades. He has drawn fans’ wrath before, but his accomplishments are enormous. As head of the Major League Baseball Players Association from 1983 to 2009, Fehr thwarted efforts to impose a salary cap and kept players’ salaries high. In three years with the N.H.L. Players’ Association, he repaired a hopelessly fractured union and readied it for confrontation with the owners.
Players understand that this is something in which they all have to hang together,” Fehr said. “You can paraphrase Benjamin Franklin: if we don’t hang together, we’re going to hang separately.”
Fehr is something of an anachronism: an ardent trade unionist in an era when the power of unions outside of sports is shrinking.
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