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The Cubs grounds crew was short staffed because the Cubs were trying to avoid Obamacare

Aug 22, 2014, 12:49 PM EDT

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This story keeps on giving.

Yesterday when the Cubs defended their grounds crew’s efforts during Tuesday night’s debacle against the Giants, the team noted that they had sent home many of the grounds crew workers earlier in the day. They made it sound as if it were standard operating procedure to do so. But the Chicago Sun-Times reports that there was a bit more to the team’s staffing decisions:

The staffing issues that hamstrung the grounds crew Tuesday during a mad dash with the tarp under a sudden rainstorm were created in part by a wide-ranging reorganization last winter of game-day personnel, job descriptions and work limits designed to keep the seasonal workers – including much of the grounds crew – under 130 hours per month, according to numerous sources with direct knowledge.

That’s the full-time worker definition under “Obamacare,” which requires employer-provided healthcare benefits for “big businesses” such as a major league team.

The Sun-Times article quotes anonymous officials from other teams which characterize the Cubs’ move in this regard as “cheap” and short-sighted.

Take this for what it’s worth, but the Cubs were deemed baseball’s most profitable team in 2013 and its owners are well-known partisan Republicans with a decidedly anti-Obama tilt. If there’s a team which is going to go out of its way to avoid having to pay Obamacare benefits, it’s not shocking that the Cubs are that team. Whether you think that’s a good thing or a bad thing likely depends on your political persuasion, of course.

Whether other teams have done this is unknown. Whether even twice as many grounds crew members could’ve fixed the problem in time on Tuesday is also unknown, as once a tarp is laden with water, it’s impossible for almost any number of people to move it. The head count — as opposed to the manner in which the tarp was rolled and unrolled — may have been irrelevant.

Of course, I am curious what those readers who have been on my case for pointing out that mistakes were made on Tuesday — readers who accused me of picking on poor blue collar workers in all of this — feel about a team cutting hours in order to not have to pay worker benefits.

247 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. El Bravo - Aug 22, 2014 at 5:51 PM

    Thanks for the Friday read, Craig. This was enjoyable.

  2. kevinthecomic1 - Aug 22, 2014 at 8:15 PM

    Or, maybe the members of the grounds crew could (i) acquire some more valuable skills and, as a result, (ii) get a better job that would (iii) provide the health care they are looking for.

    Oh wait, that would require personal responsibility and accountability. Never mind.

    • historiophiliac - Aug 22, 2014 at 8:55 PM

      And who would care for the field then to provide entertainment for the fans? Their job is necessary for the Cubs product and if they want to provide adequate field care, they need to hire and properly compensate their employees. Oh, wait, that would require corporate responsibility and accountability. Nevermind.

      • kevinthecomic1 - Aug 22, 2014 at 9:20 PM

        Like it or not, a corporation’s only responsibility and accountability is to the shareholders/owners. As a human being, you own your labor. If you don’t like the price that you are currently getting for your labor, then it is up to you to make your labor more valuable and then extract a higher price for it.

      • historiophiliac - Aug 22, 2014 at 9:24 PM

        If you want to stay in business, you have to produce a product that people will buy. If you do not provide adequate manpower or services sufficient to please customers, you will suffer from a drop in revenue…which your shareholders/owners won’t appreciate (thanks to lower profit). You can’t automate or make field prep self-serve. Do you think it’s going to cost them lest to have a make-up game?

      • kevinthecomic1 - Aug 22, 2014 at 9:51 PM

        I wasn’t aware that the Cubs were in danger of going out of business.

      • historiophiliac - Aug 22, 2014 at 9:56 PM

        They will be if they keep doing this crap or if everyone leaves to maximize the return on their labor elsewhere.

      • drewsylvania - Aug 22, 2014 at 9:59 PM

        “Like it or not, a corporation’s only responsibility and accountability is to the shareholders/owners.”

        Bull****. They choose to make them their only responsibility, and often do so at the expensive of employees and even their own best interests.

        There are other, better ways to run a business, e.g. build a brand based on great product and treating people well. It ain’t a pipe dream, it actually happens.

      • SocraticGadfly - Aug 23, 2014 at 12:39 AM

        Maybe the Cubs groundskeepers could roll “Kevin the Connect” inside a tarp next time? I’d help throw him on the field.

        And folks who talk “personal responsibility” always ignore plutocrats paying a lower rate of taxes on capital gains than income, as if capital gains weren’t income for the rich; rich CEOs offshoring business subsidiaries deliberately incorporated to avoid US corporate income taxes which are NOT higher than the rest of the world on marginal rates (don’t even go there Kevin, you’re wrong); who cut corners on workplace safety, etc. etc.

      • mrloser444 - Aug 23, 2014 at 8:46 AM

        And corporations are people too! No Obamacare for them either.


      • stephenw304 - Aug 23, 2014 at 11:53 AM

        And you wonder why it’s been over 100 years since the Cubs won a series and almost a decade since they saw 500. You get what you pay for in life. You run a cheap organization…. You get cheap results….. You pay a decent wage… You get decent returns. It’s always true in life and baseball!

    • upchurch231 - Aug 23, 2014 at 12:21 AM

      You are right. That is exactly how capitalism works. Unfortunately capitalism is anti-human. Ya see labor and capitalism dont mix. The whole point of capitalism is to maximize profit by figuring out ways to create, produce, manufacture, and sell goods cheaper, which 9 times out of 10 means, somehow eliminating jobs, de-valuing (market wide lowering of wages decided upon by the .01%. not 1%, .01%), Now, assuming that every single person in the world has the capability to acquire more valuable skills until they are valuable enough to get a job that actually pays one of those things called a livable wage, this would be a freakin fantastic way to weed out all the lazt people who dont wabt to contribute to society. Only probablem is. THATS NOT HOW THE WORLD WORKS. THATS NOT HOW LIFE WORKS, THATS NOT HOW HUMAN BEINGS WORK. Not everyone can be a professional football player right? Why is that? Because he just wasnt born with the genes that would give him a body that makes him have talent for football. (obviously you have to work hard but if your 5’1 135 pounds you are not playing pro football no matter how hard you try) Anyway, I think we can all agree that is correct right? Not everyone can play football? The same goes for the game of life. Some people do not have the mental capabilities to learn said abilities, and some dont have the genetic makeup to learn the abilities no matter how hard they try. They can try over and over and over again and always fail. It’s those people that capitalism turns their back on. People like some of that ground crew. Maybe they cant handle risk and pressure because of a brain condition causing overwhelming anxiety causing them to only be able to work low level manula labor jobs. Or maybe they have a really bad defective gene that causes them to be unable to develope good people skills causing them to be unable to polotic for raises and such. As we all know a lot is who not what you know. EVERYBODY IS NOT THE SAME. EVERYONE HAS DIFFERENT TOLERANCES FOR LIFE. Why should those people who bust their ass but just cant do anything else that would pay better. There are those people out there. See people think just because they can do something everyone should be able to. I am a very successful person. Well in my own right, i comfertably take care of a family of 5. I was lucky. Im able to handle pressure better than others so being in charge of things doesnt bother me much when others it might drive crazy making their life unbearable. They do not deserve to suffer. Any person willing to work and contribute to our society should make a livable wage. (i’d say about 13 an hour here in chicago would be bare minimum to be able to survive with no kids and no help.) The problem is, until we figure out a way to convince these “Job creators” that the more people that have money means the more people that buy things, and the more people that buy your things the more money you make. In the long run there profits will match, if not increase, a;; the while more americans actuallhy get to live the american dream instead of freaking out about how they are going to feed their kids. It’s not as black and White as people think. But simple solustions dont fix complex problems. The human psyche and genome are two of the most complex things known to man and its those 2 things that determines what a persons ceiling is.. Hard work and dedication is what determines if a person reaches that ceiling. Yea some of those grounds crew could have went and learned better skills and got better jobs. But some of them couldnt. They deserve to be able to support their families too.

      • SocraticGadfly - Aug 23, 2014 at 12:41 AM

        Preach it!

      • stephenw304 - Aug 23, 2014 at 11:59 AM

        Theyhoatd $7 for every $3 they payback in wages and after doing it for the last 30 years, they are clueless as to why the money isn’t circulating in the economy now?? I

      • stephenw304 - Aug 23, 2014 at 12:03 PM

        “they hoard $7 for every $3”. Not “thehoartd” or whatever it was my fat thumb tried to type!

    • crazyfootballfun - Aug 23, 2014 at 2:44 AM

      dissing people who are working? pathetic, kevin.

    • carpi2 - Aug 23, 2014 at 10:17 AM

      Life in America is all about leverage. Like it or not, our system puts the onus on the employee to create their work environment. You need to set yourself up with a set of unique skills, in order for you obtain leverage in your employment status.

      For an example: The striking McDonald’s employees have zero leverage. They have no unique skills and are easily replaceable. They either need to shut-up and get back to wok; or, quit, and find a better employment situation.

      Now, I’d have to believe professional grounds crew members have some level of leverage. Given the level of precision put into an MLB field, I have to assume not just anybody can do that work. .

    • koufaxmitzvah - Aug 23, 2014 at 2:04 PM

      I keep forgetting how health care, decent wages, and freaking empathy for the human condition are strictly for rich people.

      I see you’re a comic. You may want to keep that day job.

  3. jrob23 - Aug 22, 2014 at 9:33 PM

    Amazing the number of libtards on here. The RW bible thumpers are giving them a run for their money though.

    • SocraticGadfly - Aug 23, 2014 at 12:42 AM

      How long did it take you to learn to spell “libtard”? And, have you advanced beyond crayons yet?

  4. ashoreinhawaii - Aug 22, 2014 at 10:53 PM

    I’m afraid to even read these comments as I’m sure there will be a whole lot of blame the workers, blame Obama, and lectures on how an economy is supposed to work(i.e. rich people are free to do what they want, and if you disagree you’re a socialist – they won’t accuse you of being a communist anymore as that might offend their friends in China).

  5. jinx21fan - Aug 23, 2014 at 12:08 AM

    Blogger/Troll … pathetic.

  6. beanocook - Aug 24, 2014 at 12:00 AM

    Democrats screwed workers as they knew or were willfully ignorant the 32 hour rule would impact workers hours. You rarely can manage everyone top down without blowback.

    • [citation needed] fka COPO - Aug 25, 2014 at 5:59 PM

      me flunk English, that’s unpossible!

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