Armour/Levitt: A history of the MLBPA’s collective bargaining agreement

From SABR members Mark Armour and Dan Levitt at The Hardball Times on November 7, 2016:

A collective bargaining agreement (CBA) is a legal document, negotiated between management and a labor union, that defines the terms and conditions of employment. The 1935 passage of the Wagner Act (formally the National Labor Relations Act) guaranteed the rights of employees to organize into a union and for those unions to bargain collectively.

Although the Major League Baseball Players Association was formally created in 1954, the players’ only substantive accomplishment was its pension and benefit plan, first established in 1947 (by a pre-MLBPA group of players). This was not considered a problem – the MLBPA took pride in its pension plan, and the players otherwise accepted their lot. They had a part-time lawyer named Norman Lewis for a while, but when Lewis suggested they negotiate more than just a pension, the owners more or less told the players to get rid of him, and they soon did.

The players then hired Robert Cannon, a personal friend of many of the owners, as a legal advisor. Cannon was a Milwaukee judge who really wanted to be baseball commissioner. Along these lines, his strategy was to remind the players continually how well-treated they were and to ask for nothing from the owners.

The players’ pension plan long had been tied to the revenue generated by the All-Star Game and World Series. As this pool continued to increase, the owners were becoming increasingly uncomfortable giving up so much money to the players, and this disagreement finally caused the players to decide to hire a formal executive director. After considering a few other candidates, including Cannon, they ultimately hired Marvin Miller in the spring of 1966. To say this was a watershed moment is an extreme understatement. In 2016 the MLBPA is publicly celebrating its 50th anniversary-–the pre-Miller days aren’t even acknowledged.

Read the full article here:

Read part 2 by clicking here and part 3 by clicking here.

Originally published: November 7, 2016. Last Updated: November 7, 2016.