WASHINGTON D.C. – This week U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) called on Major League Baseball (MLB) to maintain the pensions of professional baseball’s non-uniformed employees. Brown’s letter to MLB Commissioner Bud Selig comes on the heels of a report that MLB’s owners will vote on the future of its employees’ pensions at meetings next month.
“Major League Baseball should not touch the pensions of its non-uniformed employees who are integral to America’s pastime,” said Brown. “Many of these employees make less than $40,000 a year and rely on their pensions to have peace of mind when they retire. I love the game of baseball and want the employees who help make it great to be treated with the same respect as its players.”
According to press reports, MLB owners are considering eliminating non-uniformed pensions all together, though it has since been reported that owners will instead vote on pension flexibility, including allowing teams to offer their own pension plans that would allegedly have to be equitable to the pension plan offer by MLB.
Many non-uniformed MLB employees make less than $40,000 a year, while the average salary for a professional baseball player was $3.2 million in 2012, with the lowest-paid players earning $480,000.
Brown’s letter can be read in its entirety below:
April 4, 2013
Mr. Allan H. (Bud) Selig
Major League Baseball
245 Park Avenue, 31st Floor
New York, NY 10167
Dear Commissioner Selig:
Baseball is America’s pastime. Countless Americans, including my family, love the game. However, as another season begins, I remain concerned by reports that Major League Baseball (MLB) owners plan to vote on a proposal that would modify the pension plans for non-uniformed employees. While I was pleased to learn that these plans would not be entirely eliminated, it is my sincere hope that any enacted changes not deprive hardworking employees of a secure retirement.
Non-uniformed employees play a critical role for the MLB – helping to ensure that players can play and fans can root for their team. These individuals, while working behind the scenes, help ensure the success of their respective teams and the entire league. Many employees are not high wage earners. For example, those who work in the minor league can earn less than $40,000 and depend on their pension in their retirement years to provide a modest supplement to Social Security income.
This figure stands in sharp contrast to the average salary for a baseball player, which was $3.2 million in 2012, with the lowest-paid players earning $480,000. Professional baseball players have a physically demanding job that requires great skill and hard work. They draw crowds to stadiums, support sports broadcasters and retailers, and help boost MLB’s annual revenue. Yet, the non-uniformed personnel also work hard, play by the rules, and make valuable contributions to the overall success of the league.
During a time when private, defined benefit pension offerings are disappearing and too many retirees are struggling to make ends meet, I urge the owners to maintain a good defined benefit plan. I hope that the MLB, and its teams, continue to be an example for employers across the country by supporting your workers.
Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to your response.
United States Senator