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Play ball.

Ending a 32-day lockout, negotiators for the major league baseball players (Major League Baseball Players' Association) and for the 26 baseball club owners (Players Relations Committee) reached a 4-year agreement covering 1,040 ballplayers. The 26 clubs have 24 roster positions for major league players and 16 for minor league players covered under the contract.

The owners' original proposals included a revenue-sharing plan in which 48 percent of revenues from ticket sales and television and radio broadcast contracts (which reportedly constitute 80 percent of the owners' total revenues) would go to the players; a pay-for-performance plan, in which players with less than 6 years of experience would get 1-year, nonguaranteed contracts with their salaries determined by a statistical formula, while players with 6 years or more of experience would be free agents; free agent restrictions, under which teams over preset salary levels would not be able to sign another team's free agents; continuation of the current salary arbitration eligibility; and a $90,000 minimum salary for major league players.

The players' original demands included salary arbitration for 50 percent of the most senior players with between 2-3 years of experience; 100,000$125,000 minimum salaries, plus cost-of-living increases; $57 million annual contribution by the club owners to the pension and benefit plan; a 25-man major league roster; more liberalized rules for free agents; continuation of the existing pension and benefit formula combining owners' contributions with revenues from television contracts covering the All-star Game, the playoffs, and the World Series; and automatic penalties for, and future protection from, collusion by the owners in the signing of free agents.

The settlement came after the baseball owners abandoned proposals on two thorny issues, revenue sharing and minimum salaries, and a compromise was reached on a third and even more intractable issue, salary arbitration. The contract provides for salary arbitration for the top (based on service time) 17 percent of the players in the league (approximately 15 players) with between 2 and 3 years of service, provided they were on the team's roster for at least 86 days in the previous season. Minimum salaries were increased to $100,000 (from $68,000) for major league players, and to $25,000 (from $22,700) for minor league players. Other terms include a $55 million (was $39 million) owners' annual payment to the pension and benefit fund; an increase in the major league roster to 25 players effective in 1991 (currently 24); two new expansion teams for the National League; unspecified cost-of-living allowances in 1992 and 1993; automatic triple damages to players if intentional collusion is proven against at least five teams in the signing of free agent ballplayers; and a reopener on major issues after 3 years.
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Title Annotation:Major League Baseball Players' Association-Players Relations Committee agreement
Author:Cimini, Michael H.
Publication:Monthly Labor Review
Date:Jun 1, 1990
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