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SBD/Issue 191/Leagues & Governing Bodies
MLBPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr Stepping Down From Influential Post
Published June 23, 2009
|Fehr Will Step Down No Later Than March '10|
THE TIME IS RIGHT: Fehr said of leaving his position, "Whenever you’re in a situation like I have been in in which you’ve been doing the same job as the boss, as the director, for 25 years, there comes a point in time in which you say to yourself, ‘Is it time for a change? Is it the right thing for you to do? Is it the right thing for the organization?’ And the conclusion I came to some months ago was yes that this was the right time” (ESPN.com, 6/22). Fehr said that he is "in good health and simply wanted to explore other things 'before I got too long in the tooth.'" Fehr said that he "decided to leave now to give the union an opportunity to select a new leadership team for the next round of labor negotiations." MLB Commissioner Bud Selig in a statement said of Fehr, "Although we have had our differences, I have always respected his role" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 6/23). USA TODAY's Bob Nightengale notes Fehr's resignation "will take effect once the players association executive board approves Weiner." Fehr: "It's not to say I lost my taste for it, but I've done it for a very long time." Fehr added that the timing of the announcement "coincides with preparations to begin soon on the next labor agreement" (USA TODAY, 6/23).
LOOKING BACK TO HIS GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Fehr said there are two things he is most proud of during his tenure heading the union. Fehr: "On a very large-scale basis, this has been a period in which unions in general and the union movement in general have been in sort of a slow, steady decline for most of the last 30 years almost. We’ve been able throughout that period to maintain a strong, vibrant, cohesive union, and we’ve been able to represent the players very well and negotiate what we think are appropriate and fair terms and conditions of employment. That takes a lot of work and it takes a very resolved, committed and united membership. To have been able to accomplish that and to have been able to continue the work that Marvin Miller began so many years ago really gives one an enormous sense of satisfaction." He added he also will remember that after "close to 40 years of labor strife in baseball, we were able to negotiate two successive agreements without a work stoppage. One went to the edge; that was 2002. But in 2006, we were able to get it done even without the threat of a strike or a lockout. ... The biggest part of that agreement was the ability to work with the commissioner’s office and the clubs on the revenue-sharing arrangements and the effects that those have on free agency and salary arbitration and so on” (ESPN.com, 6/22).
Selig (l), Fehr Have Often Disagreed On
Performance-Enhancing Drug Issues
PLAYERS REACT: Marlins 3B and assistant player rep Wes Helms said MLB is "set up for the future" thanks to Fehr. Helms: "We've built a foundation where we've basically been taken care of. Don has been a great contributor to that. He's done exceptionally well. I think all the players in the game today owe him a lot. We've been taken care of very well." Former MLBer Orel Hershiser: "He worked very hard for us. I thought he was a good listener. As skilled as he was as a negotiator, his real skill was keeping things together and not panicking when things got tough." Former MLBer Norm Charlton: "He had to bite his tongue and not say things when he wanted to, but he was a great leader for our union and will be missed dearly" (MLB.com, 6/23). Mets P and player rep J.J. Putz: "Don was so great for us, done so many good things for the game and the players" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 6/23). Yankees LF Johnny Damon: "He helped shape what baseball is today. He helped a lot of players have great lives through his knowledge and persistence. I'm happy he was in charge" (BOSTON GLOBE, 6/23). Cubs P and MLBPA Exec Board member Aaron Heilman: "We're in a good spot because of him, and I think we're going to be moving forward in a good direction afterwards" (WASHINGTON POST, 6/23). Cardinals P and player rep Adam Wainwright: "There's no question about what he's done for our union. He's been through thick and thin. (And) he held fast to what he believed in. That's his job and that was the best thing for the players" (STLTODAY.com, 6/22). Former MLBer Barry Larkin: “All players owe him a great deal of gratitude. I’m very proud to have been able to serve with him. His leadership was just incredible" ("Quick Pitch," MLB Network, 6/22). Cubs 1B Derrek Lee: "He did a great job. It's sad to see him go" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 6/23).
Weiner Has Played Pivotal Role
In Recent CBA Negotiations
EASY TRANSITION: A's P and player rep Brad Ziegler said of Fehr recommending Weiner as his successor, "They're allowing everybody to kind of sit and think about, 'Is this the direction we want to go? Do we want to consider other names?' But I think that's their strong recommendation. ... As far as an easy transition goes, it's very likely that there would be no easier transition than having him step in" (Sirius XM, 6/22). MLB Network’s Sean Casey noted Weiner has "really kind of started taking over" meetings with teams during Spring Training in recent years, so players "could see the change of guard coming” (“Quick Pitch,” MLB Network, 6/22). In Chicago, Rogers & Van Dyck write MLBPA COO Gene Orza "seemed to have been in line to replace Fehr, but Weiner is more likely to provide a new direction." The change is "targeted to come March 31, 2010, but could happen sooner" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 6/23).