This is hard to believe, but Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reports MLB's owners are looking to eliminate the pension plans of all non-uniformed personnel. That includes front-office staff, coaches and scouts. It's unclear if non-baseball staff -- ticket sales, concession workers, etc. -- would be affected as well.
Rubin said the first attempt to eliminate the pension plans last year -- which was started by an unnamed small-market team owner -- was voted down after White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf criticized his fellow owners for being petty. A second vote will be held in early May, and a majority of owners are now in favor of abolishing the plan.
"Probably they would 'hard freeze' the plan -- allowing no new accruals," said Dr. Olivia S. Mitchell, executive director of the Pension Research Council at the Wharton School of Business, to Rubin. "This can happen right away, to the best of my knowledge. ... If the employer is doing well, in that case what typically happens is that the plan sponsor will shop out the pension liabilities, sell them to an insurance company along with assets to support them and then wipe the whole claim off the books."
Twenty-six of baseball's 30 teams participate in the Non-Uniformed Personnel Pension Plan. The four teams that opted out -- the Cubs, Brewers, Twins and Blue Jays -- are required to offer a comparable (or better) pension plan. Existing pensions should not be affected, so promised funds won't disappear. Future contributions would likely be eliminated if the vote passes, as Mitchell explained.
MLB is an $8 billion industry, and revenue streams are going nowhere but up. Cutting the pension plan for non-uniformed personnel -- many of whom earn less than $40,000 per year -- comes off as incredibly greedy on the part of owners. Disgraceful -- there's really no other way to describe it. Even if the plans are not cut, just the fact that the owners are trying to get rid of them and are willing to vote on it (twice!) is astounding. Very poor form, and I hope they come to their senses.
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