What comes to mind when you think about Major League Baseball (MLB)? Multimillion-dollar ball players and even multier-million-dollar owners? Shiny new stadiums with $300 luxury VIP seating and $10 beers and $8 hot dogs for those of us in the bleachers? The $6 billion Fox Sports/Los Angeles Dodgers TV deal and others like it?
While MLB seems to be printing money faster than Topps prints baseball cards, ESPN New York reports that the club owners are considering eliminating pensions for the everyday, regular folk employees who work behind the scenes to keep the glitter dome running—club employees from office workers to trainers to minor league coaches and staff to scouts.
Twenty-six of baseball's 30 teams participate in the Non-Uniformed Personnel Pension Plan (NUPPP). Four teams that opted out are required to offer plans comparable to or better than what NUPPP offers.
ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin reports that an attempt last year to eliminate the pension plan was not successful because:
Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf chastised his brethren for being petty with the lives of ordinary people given the riches produced by the sport.
A vote on the current proposal is scheduled to take place at the next owners meeting May 8-9. MLB Executive Vice President Rob Manfred told Rubin the plan was intended to give clubs “more flexibility” in designing pensions programs as opposed to the current defined-benefit program under the NUPPP. Writes Rubin:
If some owners want out of a plan that mandates contributions, it makes sense to wonder whether they want to fund pensions at a lower level or not at all. Manfred would not admit that the pension discussion is motivated by those theories.
We can all come to our own conclusion on the owners’ motivation. I know what mine is.