M.L.B. and Players’ Union File Grievances Against Each Other
The Major League Baseball Players’ Association recently filed a grievance over the shortened 2020 season, as they had threatened to do since negotiations with the league soured last summer.
In turn, M.L.B. filed a countergrievance, and it has asked a three-person arbitration panel to expedite the process, according to a person familiar with the situation who was not authorized to speak publicly about a sensitive matter.
The filing of the grievance and the amount sought — an estimated $500 million in damages — were first reported by The New York Post on Thursday. The union confirmed the filing but declined to comment further.
The grievance will go before a three-person arbitration panel, for which each side appoints one member while the third is mutually agreed upon.
Last year, each side accused the other of not negotiating in good faith. After M.L.B. halted operations during spring training in March 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic, the two sides quickly struck a return-to-play pact, but they interpreted that agreement in vastly different ways. It stated that players would be paid a prorated salary depending on how many games were played and that the sides would “discuss in good faith the economic feasibility of playing games in the absence of spectators.”
As the virus raged throughout the United States and it became increasingly clear fans would not be in the stands, team owners and players used sharp words and haggled for months over pay and the length of the season, which is normally 162 games.
M.L.B. — whose commissioner, Rob Manfred, has claimed the 30 clubs sustained a combined $3 billion in operating losses last year — repeatedly proposed pay cuts and a shorter season. Players held firm on receiving full prorated pay and pushed for a longer season, proposing one with as many as 114 games.
In June, Manfred exercised the league’s right to impose a schedule, setting up a 60-game season at full prorated pay. The season began on July 24 and ended with the World Series decided in late October, around the usual time. The sides later agreed to a playoff format that expanded the number of teams from 10 to 16.
This season, the sides returned to a 162-game season after the players’ union rejected an offer by M.L.B. in February to shorten the season by eight games and push the start back by nearly a month.
The sides have been increasingly mistrustful of each other, which has many people in the sport worried about a potential labor stoppage. Their collective bargaining agreement expires on Dec. 1. And now, following the grievances, the sides have another dispute on their hands.
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