Jai-Alai Chalk Talk Hall of Fame

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Strike flyer

Posted on March 27, 2005 at 01:13:13 PM by Mark K.

Well, here it is....I'm putting it on the net to develop comments and interchange amongst the posters here. I hope everyone...management, striking players and replacement players, as well as fans...post your reaction and comments.

Side One

Wealthy Fronton owners are trying to remain open without the professional jai alai players whom you've come to respect.

On April 14, they forced the International Jai Alai Players Association to go on strike over management's unfair labor practices. Now they are substituting inexperienced, scab players at your favorite fronton.

This is unfair to fans, who expect to see good jai alai. And it's unfair to the professionals who should be treated with the respect they've earned.

Fans can help restore good sportsmanship to Jai Alai by refusing to patronize the unfair Jai Alai frontons in Florida as well as Connecticut and Rhode Island, until management agrees to negotiate an end to the strike.


Thank you for supporting the International Jai Alai Players Association International Union, UAW

The U.A.W. and I.J.A.P.A. are now united together in solidarity

Side Two

The International Jai Alai Players Association has made "unconditional" offers to return to the jai alai courts and end the strike but management has refused. All striking players have the right to immediate reinstatement to their jobs by federal labor laws because they were forced on strike by jai alai management's unfair labor practices. You are inconveniently being asked to cross a picket line because of management's refusal to accept back all striking players.

Jai Alai Players Fighting for Their Lives

We would like jai alai fans to take a moment to learn the true facts about the strike by the International Jai Alai Players Association (IJAPA). On April 14, 1988, approximately 500 jai alai players in Florida, Connecticut and Rhode Island went out on strike in protest over unfair labor practices, as charged by the federal government's National Labor Relations Board. Most frontons reopened shortly after that with rosters made up of unqualified amateurs and few seasoned professionals.

Since jai lai came to the United States from the Basque region of Spain in 1924, management has kept extremely strict control over the players and their careers. They have done this through several means of unfair labor practices which include forcing players to sign unlawful labor contracts if they wish to play jai alai in this country. These contracts contain clauses that infringe on ther players' legal rights.

But jai alai owners pushed their control too far. An overwhelming majority of players at the 14 frontons in the United States decided that it was tim3e to fight back. So IJAPA was formed on March 6 with it's main purpose to insure that the players receive fair representation.

A big problem faced by jai alai players in this country is the lack of job security. It is commonplace for a player to find out that his contract will not be renewed only 30 days before the old one expires! Because there are only 8 companies that own the 14 frontons in the United States, it can be very difficult for a player to find another job.

And if a player is blacklisted, as management often does, it can be impossible! This is what happened in 1968 during another attempt to unionize the players. By simply refusing to renew the players contracts, management conveniently got rid of its problem.

Some people will argue that because many of the players are not United States citizens, they should have no rights. But think of the money these people generate in our communities. The players live in this country, they buy homes, cars and pay taxes the same as citizens do. This is a benefit to our economy.

Management has attempted to make this an American versus Spanish dispute, however nothing could be further from the truth. We are striking for the benefit of all players, the present and future. Whether they be American, Spanish, French, Mexican or any other nationality, we are fighting for everyone's rights. Why then did management all of a sudden start promoting the sport as All-American when they had it in their power to Americanize the game long ago? They simply feared unionation by the Americans if they let the ranks become dominated by the players in this country. Quite frankly, there is just not enough talent among the inexperienced players here.

IJAPA has strong American leadership. Over 85 per cent of the union leaders are from this country. We are now affiliated with one of the strongest labor unions in the world. On June 8 we joined the United Auto Workers (UAW) to become the first group of professional athletes to join a general membership union.

The players who are out on strike are fighting some very big companies. Now it is time for jai alai fans to make a choice. On one side there are billion dollar corporations that have been charged with many wrong doings. They have violated the National Labor Relations Act by threatening, intimidating and firing players. They deny the players many important benefits. And now they are subjecting you, the fans, to below par performances for two obvious reasons. One is purely for the sake of their own bank accounts and the other is that they simply fear losing total control of they players that they now have.

On the other side there are about 500 men who are well over 100 days without pay checks. We are giving up these paychecks to fight for what we believe in. We are not overpaid athletes fighting for more money. Instead, we are fighting for a stop to the unfair practices so we can bargain for better benefits. We are fighting for the rights that every American worker is entitled to. We hope after reading this you will choose to support us.

Please respect our rights to fight for our human dignity by boycotting scab jai alai and not crossing our union picket lines until we call the strike off. With your help, it will be soon.

Jorge "Lasa" Sotil
IJAPA, Vice President


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