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Marvin Julian Miller

Marvin Julian Miller was born in April 14, 1917 in New York City. He is the first executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA), (Wilson, 35). His tenure lasted for twenty for years having served from 1966 - 1982. His leadership led to the transformation of the union into one of the strongest unions in US and a major house power of some sort. During his tenure, Miller was able to establish a free agency for the players of the union. By the time he went on retirement (in 1982), the player salary was well over ten times what it was when he took over the leadership. Miller played an integral part in the materialization of the agreement that aimed at increasing ownership’s annual funding of benefits of retirement to $ 4.1 from the then $ 1.5 annually, (Wilson, 36).

On the other hand, DeMaurice Smith was born in Washington and grew up in Glenarden, Md. Smith is adequately read, (Wilson, 44). He got his degree in law with honors in the University of Virginia, in 1989. Now 45 years old, Smith was elected as the new executive director for the NFL Players Association's on the first ballot by the 32 representatives of the association and introduced to a standing ovation. Though many viewed him as an outsider, Smith presidential power ties and business connections superseded experience in football and ultimately landed the top Washington- based attorney to the association’s top office beating two former union presidents and a high profile attorney, (Wilson, 46). Smith has succeeded Gene Upshaw (who passed on after a 25 year tenure) to put himself in a challenging situation. At the top of  his list is the need to negotiate a new bargaining agreement in the face of the current economic meltdown.

Miller’s election to the MLBPA’s top job was preceded by rejection of the post by two earlier nomitionees to the pots. Because of his spirited fight to reform the union, Miller become very unpopular with the unions owners and the fans for leading two successful strikes: in 1972 and 1981 which lasted thirty and fifty days respectively.  Consequently, he maneuvered his way up the ranks of the United Steelworkers union to be its key economist and negotiator

Miller put a spirited campaign for a re-election which failed. He had (and still has) the challenge of his age to content with. He is now over ninety years and his sun has set to hope for inclusion. The politics of the Hall of Fame has become unpredictable a factor that saw Miller's tenure come to an end at time when he still felt there was still more he could offer to the union. A union he has spent most of his time shaping for a better future.   His efforts have not been rewarded has many of the fans have confessed and Miller is troubled because he walked out of his way in 1966 for the sake of a union that has come to leave him out at his hour of need.

Agreeably, the election of DeMaurice Smith as the NFLPA executive director was unexpected to many, however it is easily deduced that the union needed to have a different and informed approach to leadership. The NFLPA is facing many challenges and he, Smith, has been granted a chance to test his leadership skills in ensuring that he ‘charts the union in a direction that is both objective and divisive’, (Thibault, Quaterman, & Parks, 15). Of particular interest is the negotiation for the retirees needs.

The ultimate task for Smith, on whom the responsibility of establishing an immediate strategic management plan for the future of the union is squarely vested, is to enter into result oriented talks with the owners of NFL following their walk out on the collective bargaining agreement that the union has at the moment. He has to ensure that efforts towards a fair agreement on the bargaining agreement do not abate. If the new talks do not yield any meaningful agreements within the shortest time possible, there are chances that work in the union will have to come to a sudden standstill. This will affect the unions participation in the 2011 season and become the a threat to the end of the union’s earned historical labor peace: peace to which the past decades’ glories and flourishing of the union are attributed.

Further adding pressure to the significance of the expected Smith-mediated talks is the current economic crunch that has the potentiality to fully destroy the ability of the union to generate revenue. This, as (Thibault, Quaterman, & Parks, 30) says of many associations; will again lead to the owners holding their funding to the union and the payments to the union’s players. Owners have so far argued that they are not at all pleased by the current dispensation that seeks  to solely benefit the union’s players who take home a whopping 60% of all the applicable revenues.   

Currently, the NFLPA has witnessed, going by the one the union-initiated and funded study that revealed that, the average worth of the union’s teams has dramatically increased from $288 million to the current $1.04 billion for the past decade (which from simple math is a 15 percent rise annually). Furthermore, the NFL’s commissioner Roger Goodell has gone public with the expected introduction of a rookie salary cap.

Rookie salary cap seeks to make the proven players get lesser payments and benefits than before since the NFS teams will have to spend more on draftees. Smith has to ensure that to motivate the owners to keep funding the teams by making the players understand why they should receive less pay to allow for justified rookies. Again he has to pursue the players stand that the teams most also learn to realize the importance of also spending less on the rookies. It is as complicated as it can be. Indeed, players who have proven themselves are to make more money than do those who do not make it in the top 15 picks. Of course, as (Gould, & Weinberg, 75) will say, no team will want to be saddled with a lucrative contract for an underperforming team. Rookie salary cap, in the light of NFL, is a move that would undoubtedly allow for the uninterrupted paring of the multimillion-dollar deals going to unchecked and undeserving first-round draft picks.

Another problem lies unattended whose potential destructive nature in so  far as the future NFL is concered, can never be overstated; this is the enmity between the union and its retired players who have come to feel disenfranchised by the union that they played for dutifully in their youthful ages (Gould, & Weinberg, 54). A vehement criticism on the unions management and the manner in which it handles the issues of retirees has been fronted by former internationally acclaimed players and Pro Football Hall of Fame members, Herb Adderley, Joe DeLamielleure and Mike Ditka. They insist that the union’s pensions and benefits scheme has been wanting due to the fact the union pays the retirees peanuts in the form of a few hundreds of dollars a month.

It is worth saying at this point in time that Miller, a labor economist, has quite a career journey. He initially started at the National War Labor Relations Board, and then joined the Machinist Union he found himself in the United Auto Workers. Eventually, Miller joined and fought his way up the United Steelworkers union and was made its major top economist cum negotiator. He was later in 1966 chosen as executive director of the MLBPA.

To conclude, it may prove very difficult for Marvin Miller to rise to the status of DeMaurice Smith. Smith has proven to be more strategic and politically connected than Miller. Miller’s inability to make fruitful political and business ties has made him succumb to the eliminatory politics of the Hall of Fame. Being an economist, Marvin Miller has different approaches towards life as compared to those of the trial lawyer and partner at a renowned Washington-based law firm, Patton Boggs: DeMaurice Smith.

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