MLB owners to cut personnel pensions
New York, NY, United States (4E Sports) – Major League Baseball team owners are moving toward eliminating the pension plans of all personnel not wearing big league uniforms.
A vote is now scheduled to take place at the owners meetings on May 8-9 in New York.
MLB executive vice president Robert Manfred Jr. acknowledged that candid discussions on the topic have gone on for “several years,” but he disputed that pensions will go away entirely.
“What the conversation has been about is allowing individual clubs more flexibility as to what exactly their pension plan is going to look like,” said Manfred.
The potential impact of eliminating the pension plan would affect much of the MLB family: front-office executives, trainers, minor league staff and scouts. Some of those personnel, particularly on the minor league level and in amateur scouting, make less than $40,000 a year and rely on pensions in retirement.
Most veteran scouts were assured they had nothing to worry about, but it was uncertain what might happen to the pensions of some of the newer scouts, depending on how the situation evolves.
“My worry is not about myself, but for my wife and child should something bad happen to me,” Detroit Tigers scout Mike Russell said Tuesday. “I am glad the club I work for does not support this.”
Twenty-six of baseball’s 30 teams participate in the Non-Uniformed Personnel Pension Plan. Four teams that opted out — the Chicago Cubs, Milwaukee Brewers, Minnesota Twins and Toronto Blue Jays — are required to offer plans comparable to or better than what NUPPP offers.
In the event pensions are eliminated, existing pension commitments should not be affected, so promised money would not disappear.
However, any promised future contributions likely could be eliminated immediately, according to Dr. Olivia S. Mitchell, executive director of the Pension Research Council at the Wharton School of Business.
The first attempt to cut pensions, initiated last year by a small-market owner, never came to a vote after 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. Team owners accumulate $8 billion in annual revenue and climbing.
Reinsdorf long has been a champion of the less visible members of the MLB family. When there was financial anxiety over the stock market crash last decade, he gave many of his employees multiyear contract extensions to ease their distress.