Ed Garvey

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This article is about the Wisconsin labor lawyer and politician. For the Appalachian hiker and conservationist, see Edward B. Garvey.
Ed Garvey
Ed Garvey 3.jpg
Garvey in 2012
Personal details
Born (1940-04-18)April 18, 1940
Burlington, Wisconsin, U.S.
Died February 22, 2017(2017-02-22) (aged 76)
Verona, Wisconsin, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Alma mater University of Wisconsin–Madison

Edward R. "Ed" Garvey (April 18, 1940 – February 22, 2017) was an American lawyer, politician and activist.


Garvey graduated from the University of Wisconsin (now the University of Wisconsin–Madison) and spent two years in the U.S. Army; he then returned to Madison and entered the University of Wisconsin Law School, where he earned a law degree.[1] Garvey died in a nursing home in Verona, Wisconsin.[2]

Law and union work

Garvey at the 2011 Fighting Bob Fest

Soon after graduation, Garvey joined Lindquist & Vennum, a Minneapolis law firm. The firm worked for the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA), the labor organization representing the professional American football players in the National Football League (NFL), and in 1970 Garvey was assigned to counsel union president John Mackey regarding negotiations on a new four year contract with the league's owners. Garvey was later offered the position of executive director in the now-certified NFLPA in 1971.[3]

Garvey served as its executive director until 1983, through two strikes (in 1974 and 1982) and frequently invoking antitrust legislation in his many court battles with the league. Garvey directed the NFLPA though a series of court battles that led, in 1975, to the ruling in Mackey v. NFL that antitrust laws applied to the NFL's restrictions on player movement. In 1976, armed with leverage regarding player movement from team to team, Garvey and the union won major concessions from the owners. Garvey's negotiations with the league exchanged the players' threat of pursuing a system of unfettered free agency for an improved package of player benefits.[4]

The NFLPA became recognized by the owners as a full-fledged National Labor Relations Board union, and damages totaling $13.65 million were awarded to past and present players for antitrust violations against them.[5]

After leaving the NFLPA

After leaving the NFLPA, Garvey served as deputy attorney general in Wisconsin under Bronson La Follette, specializing in environmental issues. Garvey also became a prominent leader with Wisconsin labor groups, particularly the Paperworkers Union (now United Steelworkers) in contract disputes with International Paper.

He organized the Fighting Bob Fest, named for Robert M. LaFollette Sr.[6]

Political career

Garvey is the editor and publisher of the political website FightingBob.com, focusing on Wisconsin and national issues from a center-left perspective. He regularly appears on the local NPR national public radio affiliate WHAD to provide a progressive viewpoint on a variety of topics. Garvey continues to be a defining voice in Wisconsin politics and is popular in reform circles.

In 1986, Garvey ran for the U.S. Senate from Wisconsin, losing to Republican incumbent Bob Kasten by a small margin after a very bitter election.[7] In an unsuccessful bid for Wisconsin governor in 1998 against three-term incumbent Tommy G. Thompson, Garvey sought to highlight campaign finance reform and limited contributions to his campaign to a fixed amount per donor. Thompson won by a wide margin.

Electoral history

1986 U.S. Senate election

Democratic primary

  • Ed Garvey (D)
  • Matt Flynn (D)

General election

  • Bob Kasten (R) (inc.), 50.9% (754,573 votes)
  • Ed Garvey (D), 47.4% (702,963 votes)

1988 Democratic primary for U.S. Senate

1998 Gubernatorial election


  1. ^ Heidi Hollanddate=October 11, 1982. "Owners Fume and Fans Despair, but Lawyer Ed Garvey Won't Tell the NFL Players to Punt". People Magazine. Retrieved 26 September 2012. 
  2. ^ Longtime political activist Ed Garvey has died
  3. ^ Heidi Hollanddate=October 11, 1982. "Owners Fume and Fans Despair, but Lawyer Ed Garvey Won't Tell the NFL Players to Punt". People Magazine. Retrieved 26 September 2012. 
  4. ^ Robert H. Boyle (February 1, 1982). "This is the controversial proposal of Ed Garvey and the NFL players' union as contract talks approach". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 26 September 2012. 
  5. ^ John Clayton (March 28, 2010). "Packers' Murphy comes full circle: Once considered a radical, team president is now trying to settle NFL's labor problems". http://sports.espn.go.com. Retrieved 26 September 2012.  External link in |publisher= (help)
  6. ^ Sandomir, Richard (2017-02-22). "Ed Garvey, Leader of N.F.L. Players' Union, Dies at 76". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-02-24. 
  7. ^ Solovy, Stephen (March 7, 1989). "Wisconsin Voters". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved September 25, 2012. 


  • "Garvey McNeil & McGillivray, S.C. Biography". Archived from the original on 2009-07-25. Retrieved 2009-08-02. 
  • FightingBob.com, Garvey's blog.
  • FightingBobFest.org, home of an annual progressive festival conceived by Garvey.

External links

  • Fightin' Bob Fest
Party political offices
Preceded by
Charles Chvala
Democratic nominee for Governor of Wisconsin
Succeeded by
Jim Doyle
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