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SBD/Issue 128/Leagues & Governing Bodies
MLBPA Files Grievance Over Charity Clauses In Player Contracts
Published March 23, 2009
|Ramirez' Contract Includes $500,000 Annual
Donation To Dodgers Dream Foundation
INSIDE THE GRIEVANCE: ESPN.com reported the MLBPA in the grievance is "seeking repayment by the clubs to the players for the amount they agreed to donate to charity." MLBPA General Counsel Michael Weiner: "Players are free to choose to make donations to club charities, but clubs can't require such donations by contract. Provisions that require players to make contributions to clubs' charities are unenforceable under the basic agreement." MLBPA COO Gene Orza said that the union in the grievance "argues that the agreements are unenforceable and of no benefit to the player." But Manfred said, "The charitable contributions were freely negotiated between the clubs and players. We are surprised that they would attack such freely negotiated clauses. And we are shocked by the union's assertion that charitable activities do not provide a benefit to the players" (ESPN.com, 3/22). More Manfred: "These clauses are individually negotiated, and player contracts have all sorts of special covenants like this that are the result of negotiations. It still takes two to tango. And the player is still getting additional benefit." Unless settled, the matter will go before Arbitrator Shyam Das. There is no immediate timetable yet for that to occur (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal).
Ryan Braun's Contract Among
Those Alleged To Violate CBA
LABOR RELATIONS STRAINING: SI.com's Tom Verducci writes the grievance, filed on the eve of the World Baseball Classic (WBC) semifinals, "has intensified erosions in the partnership" between MLB and the MLBPA, as the "winds of a 2012 labor war begin to blow." In "more cooperative times," the union "might have negotiated with MLB officials on trying to downgrade such clauses to voluntary, separate side agreements." But the MLBPA instead "took the aggressive position of filling the grievance during the championship round of the WBC." Manfred: "Why are you picking the finals round of the WBC to drop the bomb?" (SI.com, 3/23). On Long Island, Ken Davidoff wrote, "What is this really about? It appears to be a classic 'following the letter of the law' argument." The "crux of the argument can be found in an e-mail the union sent to its members." The e-mail reads in part, "While a player may voluntarily contribute to a Club's charity, the [CBA] does not permit a provision in a player's UPC that requires the player to make such contributions. In our view, no player can be disciplined for declining to contribute to a Club's charity even if the player's UPC calls for such contribution" (NEWSDAY, 3/22).