This is breaking news...
While the NFL and NFLPA have battled over how best to address retired players, Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association have made news of their own today by offering pension and other benefits to players that retired before 1980.
At a press conference held today, MLB and the MLBPA offered expanded pension and other health benefits to players that played from 1947-1980 and were not fully vested in the pension plan and had less than 4 years of Major League service time.
Among those in attendance today in New York were Commissioner Selig; Michael Weiner, the Executive Director of the MLBPA; Rob Manfred, Major League Baseballâ€™s Executive Vice President for Labor Relations; Dan Foster, Chief Executive Officer of the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association; and Eddie Robinson, the former All-Star Major League first baseman and the former general manager of the Atlanta Braves and the Texas Rangers.
Since the 1980 season, all Major League Players have vested as members of the benefit plan after just one day of service in the Major Leagues. Prior to 1980, Players secured a pension benefit only after completing at least four years of Major League Service. Under this new agreement, Players who retired between January 1, 1947 and January 1, 1980 with no retirement benefits for their Major League Service will receive an annual payment of up to $10,000, jointly funded by the Commissionerâ€™s Office and the MLBPA. The collective bargaining parties have committed to these payments for an initial period of two years. Payments beyond the initial period will be discussed in collective bargaining.
Commissioner Selig said: â€śVery simply, we felt that this was the right thing to do for these former players, who contributed to our gameâ€™s unparalleled history. I am very pleased that we have partnered with the Players Association to take this step.â€ť
Weiner said: "Today's players appreciate the contributions made by former players to the game's success and to the union's efforts. The MLBPA has worked for many years with the Alumni Association on this effort, and we're excited to announce this significant agreement with Major League Baseball."
Foster said: â€śToday is a day of celebration and appreciation. The payments to these former players not only acknowledge their role in the evolution of the game but also honor the men who developed the great American pastime. The MLBPAA is grateful to Major League Baseball and the Players Association for their dedication to support and assist this group of former Major Leaguers.â€ť
Robinson said: â€śThis decision is the culmination of 14 years of concerted effort by the Major League Alumni Services Board of Directors and the former Major Leaguers who have served on our pension committee over the years. The owners and current players have shown great willingness to come together and agree on important issues.â€ť
Longtime Major Leaguer Craig Counsell, a member of the Milwaukee Brewers and an Association Representative for the MLBPA, said: â€śAs a current player it is truly an honor to be able to take this step and help pre-1980 players.
Retirement benefits were the primary concern in 1966 when the players hired Marvin Miller and the modern-day Players Association was born. Over the ensuing 45 years every player experiences the same feeling of indebtedness to those who came before him. It is with that in mind that I personally thank everyone involved for their determination in making this happen.â€ť
See Marvin Miller's comments on the pension plan and pre-1980 players from the 2004 Biz of Baseball interview
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