The case presented in this paper is marked as a negotiation where both parties failed to recognize the importance of cooperation and interdependence. Although the strike was sometimes claimed to be the one that had the most significant impact on Major League Baseball, the result of the negotiations was not satisfactory to both parties.
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The conflict between the players and team owners arose because of the limited privileges of the players. Only the team owners could decide which contracts needed to be ended and which remained in force.
Although players enjoyed different privileges such as higher-than-minimum salaries and better insurance before the strike, it was the team owner’s decision that influenced the future career of the player. Team owners were allowed to sell their players to other teams; furthermore, players were not able to negotiate their salaries and other aspects of the contract. This conflict resulted in the major strike in 1994 when both parties were ready to disagree with any conditions except the ones they required. Since revenue sharing was related to the salary cap, players assumed that, eventually, the salary cap would also limit their compensations. Such a suggestion was not supported by the players, and the long-term strike began. Although the players were right in their position “no players – no revenues”, they did not seek for an alternative. The team owners did not provide any innovative opportunities as well.
Although the judge’s decision was in favor of the players, the final agreement led to losses on both sides. The negotiators could choose multiple alternatives. The team owners were interested in avoiding the cancellation of the season and could have provided different suggestions to minimize the losses. The players were interested in changing the previous agreement, but instead of collaborating on a new one, they decided to prolong the strike, which eventually resulted in the signing of an agreement similar to the previous one but with additional losses. It also should be noted that both parties were not expecting the season to be canceled, which resulted in unsuccessful negotiations and disappointed fans.
The strike initiated by the players could have been successful if they and the union elaborated on such conditions that would not be entirely rejected by the other party. The same approach could be taken into consideration by team owners, who instead focused on hiring replacement players. None of the parties reconsidered their demands, which left both of them unsatisfied.
It should also be noted that both sides could suggest reviewing the concept of ownership and identifying which processes can or cannot be controlled by owners and players. Alternatively, stronger unions’ influence on team owners, contracts, and deals could also be suggested as a possible solution. Although the union did take part in the negotiation process, its influence was weaker compared to other strikes that were discussed previously. Thus, unions’ could have the power of controlling the contracts or deals, but this suggestion was not provided by the players as a reasonable demand.
Suggesting employee ownership or a modification of it could also be beneficial, at least to the players. Negotiation about the issues that concern both parties could have been much more efficient than providing two distinct solutions based on parties’ interests. The case presented is a good example of unsuccessful collective bargaining where nobody’s initial preferences were considered.