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Shameful: MLB quietly votes to allow teams to eliminate non-player pensions

Feb 13, 2014, 12:12 PM EDT

A year ago it was reported that Major League Baseball owners were considering allowing teams to eliminate pensions for non-uniformed employees. When that leaked, Rob Manfred — who is poised to be the next Commissioner — said this:

Either Manfred was out of the loop last year or else he was lying, because Major League Baseball’s owners did just that last month. From Adam Rubin of ESPN:

Major League Baseball owners, despite earning more than $8 billion in revenue in 2013, voted in January to allow individual teams to slash or eliminate pension-plan offerings to their non-uniformed personnel.

The vote, tabled a year earlier when the intention became public, quietly took place Jan. 16 at the quarterly owners meetings in Paradise Valley, Ariz., the same gathering at which instant-replay expansion unanimously was approved.

Manfred is quoted extensively in that story talking about how it’s a perfectly harmless and defensible move. About how employees like not having pensions and would much prefer to fund their retirement with their own money rather than have it as a benefit conferred by their employer.

And the evidence that this is so manifestly good for employees and how competitively beneficial for baseball can be seen in the manner in which Major League Baseball took such public ownership of the vote and the change. The same league that will send out press releases when they change the type of toner cartridges they use somehow didn’t want this getting out, I guess.

I suppose many of you will note that most industries have 401K-style retirements now instead of pensions. Mine does. Yours probably does. Indeed, outside of some government employees, it’s hard to find a straight pension system anywhere these days. To that I say: Baseball is not most industries.

Most industries cut pension plans in the face of extreme competitive pressure in environments in which labor costs subject to the cuts represented huge costs to their bottom lines. In contrast, Baseball is utterly booming, and these cuts are targeted at an astonishingly small number of not-very-well-paid non-uniformed employees who work long hours and do amazing things to let these millionaires and billionaires make the fortunes they make.

Major League Baseball is totally within its rights to make this change. And, in doing so, they are conforming to trends in other industries. But just because they can and desire to do so doesn’t mean it’s right to do so. Indeed, to target the secretaries, scouts, ticket sellers and promotional staff for cost-cutting is simply shameful.

  1. cackalackyank - Feb 13, 2014 at 12:24 PM

    Life is good when you are a billionaire.

    • Professor Fate - Feb 14, 2014 at 10:17 AM

      If the billionaires had increased their workers’ pay by some percentage of the discontinued benefit I would be on board with this. Unfortunately there is not ever enough of the good life for rich people.. They don’t look at what they have, they constantly focus on what they have yet to acquire.

      • tysonpunchinguterus - Feb 14, 2014 at 12:03 PM

        If they offer to match the employees’ contributions to a 401(k) plan, would that be acceptable to you?

  2. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Feb 13, 2014 at 12:27 PM

    I think baseball is beginning to confuse their anti-trust exemption with diplomatic immunity. Eventually their labor practices are going to upend the exemption, as the folks who are skilled in baseball jobs cannot very well go to the OTHER league to ply their trade if they don’t like what MLB is doing.

    • rpearlston - Feb 13, 2014 at 1:18 PM

      Not quite. The people at whom this policy is aimed are the trainers, the clubhouse guys, etc. Their skills are extremely transferable to other organizations and other sports, at every level. It’s also (likely) aimed at the umpires, whose knowledge base is not applicable, although their skills are. This is not aimed at non-uniform personnel who help to make the game work, people such as scouts, coaches, front office execs, etc, almost every one of whom has also been a player.

      • mornelithe - Feb 13, 2014 at 1:30 PM

        Eh, that doesn’t follow suit with the report. Umps don’t fall under the echelon of ‘individual teams’, they are paid separately (extremely well, I might add).

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Feb 13, 2014 at 3:21 PM

        Some of the guys have skills that transfer easily, but I would imagine others do not. What about the guys in the advance scouting dept who compile video? Sure, there are other video editing jobs, but I don’t know that their particular exerience would transfer at the same value. Or the guy who runs pitch fx, or hit tracker, the other low level jobs that schmucks like me don’t even know about. The sad thing is that these jobs can frequently be paid less than market value because of the “cool” factor of wrking for baseball, and now the employees get doubly screwed by a business that is swimming in profit.

        I think the value of that exemption can’t be overstated, and MLB should be held to a higher standard than the average business because of it. Otherwise, let’s see how they handle a real free market.

  3. sophiethegreatdane - Feb 13, 2014 at 12:28 PM

    It’s good to be the King.

    • rpearlston - Feb 13, 2014 at 1:19 PM

      It’s so good that many people seek public office just so that they can believe that they reign supreme.

  4. Marty McKee - Feb 13, 2014 at 12:29 PM

    Typical rich-person attitude: I got mine, too bad for you.

    • jarathen - Feb 13, 2014 at 12:40 PM

      If only those ushers would pull themselves up by their bootstraps and buy their own MLB team!

    • Glenn - Feb 13, 2014 at 12:41 PM

      Certain people of a particular political persuasion would call your statement “class warfare”, but ignore the very real class warfare of these billionaires on working class people.

  5. aceshigh11 - Feb 13, 2014 at 12:35 PM

    Big surprise…it’s already happened everywhere else in America, so why not baseball too?

    • bigharold - Feb 13, 2014 at 2:11 PM

      True enough this has happened in other businesses. Defined benefit pensions that carry on until ones demise in the long run just don’t work. If you think otherwise, .. just look at the auto industry. Eventually, the obligations to the pension become an untenable burden and cause the collapse of the company/industry and then the workers really suffer.

      It’s not that I’m against this completely but the timing and execution is an issue. I’ve been on the business end of this when my company decided they were doing away with our pensions and shifting to 401Ks, .. something we already had. At the time I was in my early 40s and about to start sending two kids to college so ramping up my 401K wasn’t an option. Older employees were grandfather but that calculation used left me about 1.5 years short, (I know people that were literally 60-90 days short). Essentially, circumstanced worked against me and pulled the rug out from my retirement plans. I can tell you that changes the way you feel about your job and your employer. Had I been hired understanding that they only offered a 401K I would have taken the job anyway but having it taken after 12-13 years was just BS, especially since at the time my company was wildly profitable.

      The company that I work for isn’t they type of industry that relies on being in favor with their clientele, .. MLB does. If they are smart, MLB will forgo cutting pensions off any employee that is already vested. Better yet, eliminate pensions for only new hires so as to look as fair as possible. This way they can’t be seen as taking anything away from anyone. They have the resources to absorb the slower transition to a 401K type of retirement better than most industries and frankly owners don’t need the bad press. But, I fully expect them to do what’s best for their bottom line and shed themselves of their pension system as quickly as humanly possible. Manfried clearly was lying last year so why should anything he says about be taken at face value? It will be something I’ll keep in mind the next time I’m in a ball park and I see what they expect me to pay for a beer or hotdog. More importantly, I’ll keep it mind the next time some billionaire owner wants the locals to kick in to pay for their place of business. And, so should every other tax payer without a pension do as well.

      Just because it has happened everywhere else doesn’t mean it should here. As is pointed out baseball is obscenely profitable so this move, if nothing else, looks terrible. Owners look like a bunch of greedy son’s of bitches, .. which I’ve no doubt so of them are, .. but not all of them.

      • aceshigh11 - Feb 13, 2014 at 3:14 PM

        Hey, I’m NOT defending this practice…my post was more of a cynical “oh well” than an endorsement.

        I think it sucks, and I don’t like dealing with 401(k)s, but this is the reality where workers now have almost no bargaining power.

      • bigharold - Feb 13, 2014 at 3:39 PM

        And, I’m not saying that having a 401K type of pension arrangement is bad either. I just think that MLB can afford to transition slower. In fact I think they could and should move to applying their 401K model to only new employees.

        More importantly, unlike most business MLB has a very high PR vulnerability. Most business, your customers view of a company is based primarily on value of goods or services in relationship to cost. With baseball it’s more that the fans have to like you. That in conjunction with obscenely wealthy owners giving players tons of money it makes one think that the last thing MLB should do is eek out a slightly larger profit by putting the screws to the lowest echelon of the pay scale.

      • rje49 - Feb 13, 2014 at 4:31 PM

        I agree, Harold. I worked for a company from 1969 until 2007. We had a pension plan the whole time, and our 401k plan started in 1985. I’m retired now, and the pension payments only provide about 23% of my living expenses. My 401k is about the equivalent of 110 years of pension. Good thing I didn’t count on pension! And by the way, the company has also announced the end of it’s pension plan, as in not for new employees. The investment in a 401k simply amounts to much more.

      • historiophiliac - Feb 13, 2014 at 4:40 PM

        The horrifying thing for me is knowing the history here. Companies introduced stock options and then these investment things specifically as a way to sway employees to capitalism. They wanted to defuse labor relations and cut out competing market ideologies by making employees mini-capitalists. It’s shocking how well it worked.

      • bigharold - Feb 13, 2014 at 5:23 PM

        “Companies introduced stock options and then these investment things specifically as a way to sway employees to capitalism. ”

        You could look at it that way but keep in mind that defined benefit pension plans do not work over the long run. The numbers are just not there to support it. Unless a company/industry can realistically forecast exponential growth and profitability for decades to come at some point pensions start to be such a drag on revenues that they kill the goose that’s laying all the golden eggs then everybody is screwed. The next big shock wave concerning pensions will be in the public sector. They too will start to transition away from defined benefit pensions, .. they’ll have to. It is unsustainable to expect local governments to pay pension and provide them with health for twice as long as they worked. Especially, since in many cases the union contracts allow mechanisms for employees to to inflate their pensions by working as much overtime as possible the last few years they are on the job. It’s simply unsustainable and anything that is negotiated into a contract can be negotiated out. If you think it’ll never happen, watch the progress of the Detroit bankruptcy. The courts could well completely throw out the municipal labor contracts. In all likelihood the unions will settle but even that will cost them. Some city’s are already trying to change work rules like NY which now requires 25 years of service for police officers before one is eligible for retirement versus 20 previously.

        It’s not bad that employees are more involved in saving for the retirement it’s a question of timing and execution. And, reliability is key, .. know what to expect and having the time to plan for it. Pensions long term just can’t work. I grew up in a time when we were told that finding a good company and working ones way up was a good way to ensure financial success. And, I saw that work for a couple of my uncles, .. but things changed. This proves that the earlier and more involved one is in ones financial future the better.

  6. jarathen - Feb 13, 2014 at 12:41 PM

    Craig, you’re so heartless. These owners can’t even buy their own stadiums without taxpayers helping them out; how are they supposed to fund pensions for employees making $40K a year?

    • rpearlston - Feb 13, 2014 at 1:20 PM

      I do love satire. Please, keep it up.

  7. esracerx46 - Feb 13, 2014 at 12:44 PM

    Craig, I hate to be the grammar police. But I think you meant to use quietly, not quitely.

    • rpearlston - Feb 13, 2014 at 1:22 PM

      Are you the one person who has never ignored that wavy red line? NOt that that would have triggered that response. Typos exist, too, and either way, the blame for this one is on the person who edited the article and didn’t see the typo.

      • Craig Calcaterra - Feb 13, 2014 at 1:32 PM

        No one edits them. Just me. And I messed it up. I make a lot of little mistakes like that and appreciate it when people point them out, actually.

      • bigharold - Feb 13, 2014 at 2:17 PM

        ” I make a lot of little mistakes like that and appreciate it when people point them out, actually.”

        Me too, .. except I remember that we’re all here just BS’ing about baseball then I remember that I don’t care about my typos or grammatical faux pas.

      • Professor Fate - Feb 14, 2014 at 10:10 AM

        Sez the guy who correctly spells grammatical as well as faux pas.

  8. jarathen - Feb 13, 2014 at 12:44 PM

    By the way, now is a great time for ANY owner to go on the record and release a statement guaranteeing the existence of their pension plan for now and the foreseeable future. Come on, one of you rich guys must see the value in this. Arte?

  9. billybawl - Feb 13, 2014 at 12:49 PM

    Another difference between baseball and other industries is that there are only 30 teams/franchises, all part of a common infrastructure. It’s the perfect set up for a classic defined benefit pension plan. An employee could move from one team to another and continue to earn vesting service and accrue benefits. A 401k is easier to administer — and more likely to be embraced by employees — where workers move from one industry or geographic area to another.

    If you now have some teams offering defined benefit pensions, and others offering 401ks, it will tend to encourage employees with defined benefit plans to stay with their teams at least long enough to vest (typically 5 years) and possibly indefinitely if they value their pension. Maybe that’s a good or bad thing in your eyes — should, say, a scout or executive be wedded to one team or is it better for the sport to have employees move around? — but you wouldn’t have had this issue if there was one defined benefit plan for all teams.

    • skeleteeth - Feb 13, 2014 at 1:18 PM

      Someone correct me if I’m wrong but wasn’t MLB a non-profit not too long ago, at which point they would have been offering 403b’s as opposed to 401K (for-profit industry)? Could not the cost to administer a 403b have been substantially less for the employer than switching over to a 401K?

      • billybawl - Feb 13, 2014 at 1:50 PM

        I think MLB gave up non-profit status about 7-8 years ago? Non-profits have been able to sponsor 401k plans for much longer than that, maybe 20 years. I don’t know for sure, but I assume the non-profit status applied only to the Commissioner’s office and administration, not to individual teams. I also don’t think the administration costs are significantly different.

    • largebill - Feb 13, 2014 at 8:02 PM

      Don’t believe your scenario is accurate. If I work as a clubhouse attendant or office worker for the White Sox and leave to work for the Cubs my time towards a pension does not transfer over. Just as if a guy worked at one machine shop for five and then got a job at another shop because they offered X amount more per hour would not be able to transfer time towards retirement.

      • billybawl - Feb 13, 2014 at 8:13 PM

        If they had a “multiple employer” pension plan,* a single employee could take pension service with him to another participating employer. But reading more about this, it’s not clear to me that was what was in place, or at least that all teams participated in one.

        *Not to be confused with a “multiemployer” pension plan, which is what unionized industries, including MLBPA, have. It’s confusing.

  10. spursareold - Feb 13, 2014 at 12:53 PM

    One percenters being one percenters. Nothing to see here.

    • jarathen - Feb 13, 2014 at 12:58 PM

      I’m always dumbfounded by the way the rich continue to take from the poor, as if the lessons of history held no special chapters for how that always turns out.

      • js20011041 - Feb 13, 2014 at 1:17 PM

        It’s because a very large percentage of the poor are very easily persuaded by issues that don’t affect them, while ignoring the ones that do. Republicans easily manipulate many poor people into voting against their best interests by focusing on issues like abortion and gay marriage. It distracts many people from how badly they’re being screwed. “Sure, take away my pension, take away my rights as a worker, take whatever you want, just don’t let those two men get married.” Don’t blame the billionaires. Blame Jimmy Joe from the trailer park that keeps voting Republican because he wants a president with good christian “values.”

      • clemente2 - Feb 13, 2014 at 1:49 PM

        js: while I see your sentiment, I think the situation is more complex. Some decent percentage of the voters you talk about would, even after having this explicit discussion, still put their ‘values’ issues before their economic interests. That is why when this fact was discovered, the pollers and political types called them “values voters”.

        They do not feel bad about it, nor view it as an internal conflict–they feel righteous that they are putting heaven before the world, which is especially so as it is their own world that is being downplayed. They are saddened that the people critisizing them for this approach are so debased that they put their selfish economic interests before important “values”.

        The way to obtain their interest is to place the economic issues in “values” contexts–it is a sin to deprive those less fortunate of support (unemployment insurance), it is a sin to allow people to be sick and unable to afford medical care (health insurance issues), it is a sin to permit hungry children not to have nutricious food at school, etc. This is why the proto-civil rights protests starting up in North Carolina and a few other East Coast statres are important—it is the ‘leftist’ program through the “values” context.

      • js20011041 - Feb 13, 2014 at 2:22 PM

        It’s exactly that they put their “values” (I put values in quotation marks because the morality of christian values is very much up for debate) ahead of their own economic interests that is the problem. Just look at this from my perspective. I wasn’t raised as a christian. I view christianity to be just as nonsensical as a christian would view scientology. So imagine my wonderment, when people who consider themselves “values voters” would rather deny the rights of other people than vote for their own economic benefit. It’s idiotic. These people DON’T actually care about helping the poor. If they did, you wouldn’t see the same voters voting for people who are campaigning to reduce welfare and food stamps. Who campaign against birth control and abortion. The proof values is in actions. Not words.

      • historiophiliac - Feb 13, 2014 at 3:15 PM

        The Southern Baptist Convention (which is one of the largest denominations in the US) puts out values voter guides for churches to use to promote certain kinds of candidates (and some will flat out endorse candidates). Also, before elections, they will organize 40 days of prayer with lessons for each day for parishioners to read and use for directing their daily prayer. One of these specifically advises them to vote on “values” rather than in their economic best interest.

        But in all fairness, there aren’t many negative lessons in American history on taking advantage of the non-rich.

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Feb 13, 2014 at 3:28 PM

        Which is why, I believe, the current Pope has been making a point of showing that financial issues ARE values issues.

  11. gibbyfan - Feb 13, 2014 at 12:57 PM

    Ok –they have the right to do what they did but somehow I find this quote to be a little difficult to believe.

    “About how employees like not having pensions and would much prefer to fund their retirement with their own money rather than have it as a benefit conferred by their employer ”

    Sort of bring to mind the quote by that sagely dude from Duck Dynasty who talked about how happy all the blacks were prior to civil rights legislation.

    • cohnjusack - Feb 13, 2014 at 1:01 PM

      Sort of bring to mind the quote by that sagely dude from Duck Dynasty who talked about how happy all the blacks were prior to civil rights legislation.

      What? That isn’t true? Are you saying Song of the South lied to us?

      • recoveringcubsfan - Feb 13, 2014 at 2:39 PM

        I checked the Disney catalog – including the vault – and I don’t see that title in there anywhere. Guessn somebody dudn’t want da chirrun to heer ’bout Uncle Remus n da truf.

      • NatsLady - Feb 13, 2014 at 3:16 PM

        Looks like you can get it on DVD for $14.95.

    • historiophiliac - Feb 13, 2014 at 3:29 PM

      In all honesty, part of me secretly hopes that contract employment and personal retirement leads to a new norm in the US where employees are not tied to and dependent on one employer anymore and companies really do have to compete for individuals’ time. If we added universal healthcare to the mix, it could reinvent employment as we know it. It could shift the balance of power a bit and economic “free agency” could reshape practices in the US to favor workers more. I don’t know that I would advocate for this, but I could see it bringing unintended benefits for “employees” certainly.

      But then, part of me also hopes that Republicans’ immigration restriction efforts end up leading to higher wages for ag workers — which is the opposite of what the Repubs want, but would be a natural outcome of immigration restriction. This, however, would force other changes in our system as increased food cost would undermine luxury spending and return us to pre-Cold War spending habits. It would devastate certain segments of retail though. I would not enjoy laughing at Lindsey Graham for those unintended outcomes. Not at all. Ahem.

  12. sdelmonte - Feb 13, 2014 at 1:08 PM

    I agree it’s shameful, but baseball is just like other businesses doing this. A lot of firms are still making money, and still doing everything they can to treat their employees badly even thought they don’t need to. It’s why I am so depressed by the death of the labor union.

    • sportsdrenched - Feb 13, 2014 at 1:21 PM

      I think the death of the Labor Union came about because there was a perfect storm of expanded worker benefits and better working conditions so people didn’t feel that a union gave them any value.

      But now, since corporate profits are up signifcantly, and none of the that wealth expansion has trickled down to the regular worker…you just might see Labor Unions incrase in membership.

      Wait, So I’m more productive than ever, and my company is doing well, and my CEO got a bonus…but I haven’t had a raise in three years, while my benefits got cut? Yeah, labor markets work both ways. There will eventually be an adjustment.

      • mybrunoblog - Feb 13, 2014 at 3:04 PM

        The Presidents policies haven’t led to greater wealth for our nation over the last 5 years? Oh yeah it must be Bush’s fault.

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Feb 13, 2014 at 3:30 PM

        How many of the president’s proposals have gotten through the house? Exactly.

      • bigharold - Feb 13, 2014 at 4:34 PM

        “I think the death of the Labor Union came about because there was a perfect storm of expanded worker benefits and better working conditions so people didn’t feel that a union gave them any value. ”

        I think it has far more to do with the fact that most people today don’t know of or don’t remember the labor struggles in America in the first half of the 20th century. Today’s workers don’t realize that things we take for granted today like; a 5 day/40 hour week, overtime, paid sick days. vacation days and, until recently pensions were made possible by the efforts of coal workers and guys like John L. Lewis and the various auto workers unions and guys like Walter Reuther. If you asked 100 people under the age of 40 who these guys are 98 wouldn’t have a clue. They were radicals in their day and would be considered radicals by most today. But, they and other unions were the reason American labor became a force to be reckoned with. More importantly they afforded the opportunity to the working poor to gain access into middle class. Unions are far more responsible for the growth of the middle class than all the “job creators” you can think of and ironically in turn helped generate the “job creators” grow exponentially. How perversely symbiotic.

        Similar to the notion that people who do not remember the past are doomed to repeat it, .. a work force that doesn’t understand the importance organizing and fighting for their rights will be required do it over again. You are already starting to see that with the recent strikes against fast food businesses for a living wage and the debate over the minimum wage.

        For the record; I’m not now nor have I ever been in a member of a union, .. in fact I’m in management for a globe company. My concern about the eroding middle class and the declining union presence is that unions, I think, are required to keep management in check. At the current rate in 25 years America won’t make anything, .. well just sell each other financial services, cellular contracts and hamburgers. Lets hope in the next go round of “labor strife” is more therapeutic so that both management and labor see it as a collaborative effort and not a competition.

  13. rpearlston - Feb 13, 2014 at 1:13 PM

    WHo the #*$ wrote that policy – Nit WIt Mitt?

  14. senioreditor2 - Feb 13, 2014 at 1:15 PM

    Heck, I stopped going to games years ago……I watch and understand that I passively support baseball but I refuse to actively participate.

    • rpearlston - Feb 13, 2014 at 1:28 PM

      Tell us, please, does that include never purchasing any product that you’ve seen/heard during the broadcast of any baseball game? If it does, then you’re still contributing the to coffers of MLB, despite your perceived refusal to do so. That’s just a question to keep you occupied until Spring Training games begin.

      • mornelithe - Feb 13, 2014 at 1:36 PM

        I never buy anything because of a commercial on any TV channel, regardless of what time slot it is. I prefer going to friends/family for their take on whatever item I’m talking about, and then go to places like Amazon or Newegg to get a plethora of reviews, paying close attention to the reviews of people who actually own the item, instead of the fake ones.

  15. ezthinking - Feb 13, 2014 at 1:24 PM

    “It’s a one-year membership in the jelly of the month club.”

    Clark Griswold

    • recoveringcubsfan - Feb 13, 2014 at 2:40 PM

      Yes, but you have to pay for it yourself. MLB just provides the order form.

  16. righthandofjustice - Feb 13, 2014 at 1:25 PM

    MLB know all these unfair labor practices lawsuits and government probes are going to hit their wallets soon. They have to find a legal way to exploit the other employees to make up for the money they are going to lose.

    Cutting the pension plan is unethical but legal. What makes MLB look really bad is they are doing it in extreme secrecy.

  17. jm91rs - Feb 13, 2014 at 1:55 PM

    Am I one of the only people left in America that looked for a job elsewhere when my previous company slashed benefits? If you’re worth it, someone else will give you what you want. There are plenty of places you can go work if you don’t like losing your pension, but good luck finding anyone else to offer a pension these days.

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Feb 13, 2014 at 3:31 PM

      Not all jobs are equally portable.

      • jm91rs - Feb 13, 2014 at 3:39 PM

        1) don’t get a job where there are only 30 possible employers in the country. When I went to college I looked at what I was good at and what people were hiring for. I would have been an idiot to get a job where my services would have been wanted in only a handful of places.
        2) If you’re good at your job you can find a way to translate it to another place. If you’re in the sports medicine business, or the sports business business there are an infinite number of colleges, high schools and semi-professional teams that could use your services.

        Unfortunately, the economy is not what it once was. Whether or not MLB is making money hand over fist, they have the right to pay their employees whatever they want. We have no say over their profits. If their employees are skilled enough, someone else will steal them away. It really is simple.

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Feb 13, 2014 at 3:51 PM

        My point is that the ridiculous profits MLB is able to achieve derive from the anti-trust exemption they enjoy. This is not a level playing field. If they are going to benefit so immensely from a unique benefit, it is not unreasonable to expect them to be held to a higher standard of corporate ethics. They can’t scream “fair market” when it helps them, then hide behind one of the most profitable shields the gvt has ever issued.

    • historiophiliac - Feb 13, 2014 at 3:44 PM

      Your second sentence was really offensive and clueless and the third didn’t even make sense to me.

    • cshearing - Feb 14, 2014 at 8:09 AM

      So you are saying “just work somewhere else”, but then say good luck finding a place with a pension. So what is your advice exactly?

  18. pilonflats - Feb 13, 2014 at 2:02 PM

    Dude, if you don’t like where you work, start looking for another job. Every job in the world doesn’t have a pension, that’s life, save your own money. Look after your own future. Or, you can whine all the time that others are more successful than you and wait for Obama to promise you another fiction…

    • bigharold - Feb 13, 2014 at 2:28 PM

      “Every job in the world doesn’t have a pension…”

      True enough but these jobs do. By taking away their pensions MLB is essentially cutting their compensation package. They are squeezing the lowest paid employees while at the same time they’ve no problem at all expecting local governments to chip in whenever they need a new stadium. This from an industry that is swimming in profits. It’s legal but it’s not ethical.

      • chill1184 - Feb 13, 2014 at 2:58 PM

        The term you’re looking for is crony capitalism

  19. Kevin Gillman - Feb 13, 2014 at 2:17 PM

    Yay Obamacare!!

    • recoveringcubsfan - Feb 13, 2014 at 2:43 PM

      Not sure that your sentiments have anything to do with baseball, but as the son of two people whose lives were destroyed by inhuman private insurance that chose to save a buck instead of saving people, I’ll second you:


      • Kevin Gillman - Feb 13, 2014 at 2:57 PM

        I’ll tell you why I brought it up. Companies in general now are going the cheap route of not offering their emplyees benefits, including pension, or 401 K. In part that is due to Obamacare, but it represents the cheaper way to treat the employees. Now I can understand a small business owner who can’t afford to take care of their employees, like the good old days of 5 years ago. But now even big coorporations are using this to screw the system, and save the buck. I consider MLB to be a very big coorporation, and instead of talking about this, our president wants to tell us who will win the NCAA tournament, or who might win next Super Bowl.

        And that very reason is why I typed….


      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Feb 13, 2014 at 3:15 PM

        Companies in general now are going the cheap route of not offering their emplyees benefits, including pension, or 401 K. In part that is due to Obamacare,

        The majority of companies moved away from defined-benefit plans 15-20 years ago, before he was even a Senator. I honestly thought you were doing the Thanks Obama meme until you posted this response and showed you were serious, and wrong.

      • jm91rs - Feb 13, 2014 at 3:39 PM

        I don’t think Obamacare is what either of you think it is.

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Feb 13, 2014 at 3:33 PM

      It is amazing what people will use as an excuse to do the morally reprehensible thing they want to do anyway.

      • Kevin Gillman - Feb 13, 2014 at 4:38 PM

        It is, but what can you do? It’s their company, or in MLB’s case, their coorporation. I also go with the belief of the higher position you have, the dumber decisions you can make. After all, it’s not happening to them.

  20. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Feb 13, 2014 at 3:35 PM

    This seems strange. Everything I have heard about Manfred lately led me to believe he was a straight-shooting type with the highest moral character.

    • zzalapski - Feb 13, 2014 at 4:19 PM

      Were you stuck in an elevator with Bud Selig? My condolences.

  21. styx630 - Feb 13, 2014 at 6:05 PM

    Disgusting. The rich in this country are out of control.

  22. largebill - Feb 13, 2014 at 7:45 PM

    Craig, There is nothing shameful about this. Long time employees will be grandfathered in to the old pension plan. Newer employees will be enrolled in a modern plan. Pension plans and other perquisites are offered by employers to entice people to take jobs. If the standard business model changes then baseball like other businesses will adjust. The IRA & 401k model is actually fairly liberating. I say that as someone with a traditional pension. I needed to serve a minimum of 20 years in the military to earn my pension (ie: deferred compensation). Once you have more than a 6 years you start to feel trapped into staying for 20 since you forfeit your investment in a retirement. However, if you had a fund as you go with an employer match you are able to leave a job for another opportunity without losing your years towards a pension at that job. Even the federal government started switching from defined pension to a 401k style (Thrift Saving Plan) back in the 1980’s. State and local government should do likewise to get out of the trap of lifetime pensions. The old style pension allowed politicians to make promises they would never be around to pay off.

    • billybawl - Feb 13, 2014 at 8:17 PM

      Where did it say existing participants would be grandfathered in the old pension plan? They can’t have benefits they already earned taken away, but their employers could freeze future accruals. I haven’t seen it clearly stated what is happening with respect to current participants.

      • largebill - Feb 13, 2014 at 8:37 PM

        I haven’t read the specifics of this plan, but that is fairly standard. Depending on the number of years someone has in the system they would either just continue to accrue time towards a traditional retirement or if they have less than that length of time they get switched over. When the federal government did it in the mid-80’s my wife had around 8 years with the FBI. She was in the group that had to decide whether to go into TSP (401k) with employer match or stick with old system. She stuck with old system which is a good thing since she now has about 37 years vested.

  23. largebill - Feb 13, 2014 at 7:51 PM

    Also, unlike traditional pensions a ROTH or a 401k can be passed on to your heirs. My father passed on at 67 and his decades of deferred compensation as well as decades of contributions to Social Security were gone with him.

    • billybawl - Feb 13, 2014 at 8:22 PM

      Maybe, but if he had lived into his 90s or beyond, he wouldn’t have outlived his retirement benefits. We are headed toward a crisis because more people are living longer than ever, and not saving for retirement. Whether individuals should be blamed for it or not, somebody will pay for this.

      To be fair, the defined benefit plans weren’t doing so well either. We’ve just shifted the risk/cost from companies to individuals, and eventually taxpayers.

      • largebill - Feb 13, 2014 at 8:40 PM

        We don’t live to our 90’s. Heck, we don’t even usually live to see our 70’s.

  24. mrmcl - Feb 13, 2014 at 8:09 PM

    You should go into government work, Craig, since it appears you’re awful good at giving away other people’s money. Shame on everyone for not agreeing with Craig!

  25. tgthree - Feb 13, 2014 at 9:38 PM

    I’m sorry, but I just can’t get on board with this notion that MLB has some nebulous higher moral responsibility because of its anti-trust exemption. The anti-trust exemption is not some sort of gift bestowed upon Major League Baseball. I get that the benefits of non-competition benefit the owners monetarily, but the exemption also provides society at large with a benefit that it seems to care about greatly, that is, access to top quality professional sports.

    You can’t expect the MLB owners to behave in any way except that which is financially beneficial for them. Which is reasonable and fair and ethical, so then you’re really advocating for a removal of the anti-trust exemption. And if that were to be removed, watch what happens as competing leagues spring up, quality and revenues and societal interest plummet with the talent dilution, and all these non-uniformed folks are getting second and third jobs.

    • largebill - Feb 13, 2014 at 10:14 PM

      Actually, ending the anti-trust exemption at this point would likely have little effect on the game.

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