When MLB’s labor deal was announced on Tuesday, it sets in motion a host of changes that will drastically alter how the game functions, both on and off the field.
SEE DETAILS OF THE LABOR AGREEMENT
READ ANALYSIS OF THE LABOR AGREEMENT
The following is a transcript of the press conference held on Tuesday to announce the labor agreement:
An interview with:
- COMMISSIONER SELIG
- MICHAEL WEINER
- ROB MANFRED
- TONY CLARK
MICHAEL TEEVAN: Thank you for being here today. It's a great day for baseball. To my near left we have the All-Star relief pitcher of the Oakland A's, Andrew Bailey, to Andrew's left is Andrew Miller of the Boston Red Sox, Rob Manfred, the Executive Vice President of Labor Relations for Major League Baseball. In the center is Commissioner Selig, next to him is the Executive Director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, Michael Weiner, Tony Clark of the Major League Baseball Players Association, Carlos Villanueva of the Toronto Blue Jays, and long-time Major League pitcher, David Bush.
Commissioner Selig and Michael Weiner will provide some opening remarks. Commissioner, if you'd like to get us started.
COMMISSIONER SELIG: Thank you, Mike. Good afternoon. It is with great pleasure today that I announce that Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association have agreed to a five-year collective bargaining agreement that will allow play to continue, obviously, uninterrupted through the 2016 season.
I want to take this opportunity to thank Michael Weiner, all of the people at the MLB Players Association, and all the players for their shared commitment to reaching what I consider to be another historic agreement.
I also want to thank Rob Manfred, Dan Halem, and their staff for all their hard work through this process.
Especially want to thank and acknowledge the contributions and guidance of Arte Moreno of the Angels and Jerry Reinsdorf of the White Sox.
I believe that this five-year agreement will continue the remarkable popularity and surge that baseball has been on. I've said this often, and I'll say it to all of you today, nobody back in the '70s, the '80s, and the early '90s would ever believe that we'd have 21 years of labor peace. It's really remarkable. Clearly it's the longest period of labor peace that this sport has ever had.
It's interesting to note that baseball's popularity has manifested itself in a myriad of ways. It's been at its greatest in the last 15 or 16 years. I think that one of the primary reasons, if not the primary reason is labor peace.
I think at least from my standpoint, a lot of us didn't understand how serious the labor confrontations of the '70s, and the '80s were. Usually I (list each lockout year)…because I can still remember, but how much it really had hurt the sport. Now with the great growth of this sport, and this year ended as well as it could have, and this is another step forward.
So this is really a very proud day for us. By the way, it needs, obviously, clearly ratification from the players as well as from all the owners, and that process will begin today, so we have a lot of work yet to do before this deal is done.
But I'd like to turn it over to Mike Weiner, and again, thank him and everybody for their participation in this remarkably constructive process.
MICHAEL WEINER: Thank you, Bud. Good afternoon, everybody. This is a good day for baseball, and it's a good day for collective bargaining. It's a good day for baseball not just because of what we avoided, but because of what we've actually achieved.
Bud spoke of labor peace, and labor peace is good. It's better than labor war, for sure. But the goal of the collective bargaining is not just to have peace. Not just to reach an agreement. This is a good day for baseball, not just because we reached an agreement, but because of the quality and the nature of the agreement that was reached, an agreement that will benefit all players.
Bud used the word historic, and there are some historic changes in this agreement, some that the players have sought for a long, long time. There are benefits here that will run to young players to veteran players, to international players, to former players. It's our job, the union's job, to secure the benefits for players and to protect and further players’ rights, and that's exactly what we did in this agreement. It's an agreement that will benefit all clubs, the largest market clubs, the smallest market clubs and everyone in between.
It’s the Commissioner's job and Rob's job and Dan's job and the staff's job to do that. They bargained hard for their constituents and they bargained successfully. This is also an agreement that will benefit the game and the industry.
I've been working for the union for 23 years, and this is the first round of bargaining where we're able to really engage on matters that can be of benefit to all involved with the game.
The first time in my experience that it didn't matter whose idea it was, it didn't matter who brought a particular idea to the table or who didn't, but we engaged on matters that I think are exciting for everybody who loves the game.
Maybe the best example of that is the realignment. The 15-15 realignment that Bud and the owners announced last week. This was a union idea from over a decade ago. It was the owners' side of the table that brought it into this round of bargaining. None of that mattered. It was a good idea. It was an idea that the parties worked hard with that's allowed us to come up with an exciting new post-season format. That kind of bargaining is something that these parties haven't previously been able to achieve.
There are other examples as well, for example, in the areas of health and safety. The parties jointly brought to the table issues related to drug testing to our joint drug agreement to how we deal with players with alcohol difficulties, with players with concussions, issues of equipment and safety that the parties jointly addressed.
And there are a number of others in the reserve system and in the draft area, and revenue sharing is just a couple of examples. Of these are exciting changes that will better the game and help grow the industry.
That's why I say it's not just a good day for baseball, but a good day for collective bargaining. When collective bargaining works, you have creative, determined, even dogged people on both sides of the table, and that's what we had here.
The parties are pursuing in good faith the priorities of their constituents. But at the same time, they're looking for areas of common interest, areas of common benefit.
The process wasn't easy. It's never easy. It's always harder than you think it's going to be. But it was a successful process. It's a good day for collective bargaining and for baseball.
Let me offer a few thanks. First I want to thank the members of the press for basically leaving us alone for the last year and letting us do our job and not getting in the way. Thank you very much.
I want to thank Commissioner Bud Selig and his negotiating committee. I also want to thank Rob Manfred, Dan Halem, and all the others from the Labor Relations Department and the Commissioner's office who are here. The negotiators for management displayed remarkable respect for the collective bargaining process, remarkable respect for the union, and remarkable respect for the union's members and for the players. As a union negotiator, you can't ask for anything more than that from your managing counterparts.
I want to thank the incredible staff at the Players Association. It's going to sound corny. It's going to sound trite, but it's a complete team effort when it's time for us to bargain.
I thank Tony Clark and everybody on his team, our Players Relations team, all of the lawyers that worked on this, our economic team, our senior administrative staff, our communications staff, our accounting staff, our business affairs staff, and our clerical staff. All of them contributed to the successful negotiation.
Also, if you'll indulge me, I want to take a minute to thank the family of all of our staff members who put up with an awful lot of time away, thanks to all of them.
The most important thanks I have to give are to the players. I think everybody involved in this process owes thanks to the players. I spoke with Marvin Miller a couple hours ago after we signed the memorandum of understanding, and I told him I was going to steal one of his lines. It's a line I've heard Marvin say many times. The secret to success of the Major League Baseball Players Association isn't really a secret. The secret to success is the involvement, the engagement, the ownership that the players take in their union.
This negotiation showed that in spades. You don't negotiate without players being present, and over the course of this season, and we negotiated throughout the entire season we had 236 negotiating players attend bargaining meetings. That is a remarkable number. Many of them time and time again, that doesn't count Josh Thole and Chris Capuano and Curtis Granderson and David Robertson who came to countless meetings in New York, and other players who came to multiple meetings.
Those 236 players included rookies, it included players on their first day in the Major Leagues, 20-year veterans, MVPs, players who just called up from the minor leagues, players from the U.S., the Dominican, Canada, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Australia, from all the countries that feed our great game.
Those players were led by a negotiating committee. They had big shoes to fill. I look around the room. I see Joe back there. Joe Torre was a member of the union's negotiating committee a few years ago. We had 30 active members of our negotiating committee. That is not an exaggeration. 30 members who consistently not only came to meetings, but consistently were on conference calls, weekly calls during the season, virtually daily calls for the last two months.
Not a single major proposal was put forward by the union that was not vetted, run by, and in almost every case, improved by the negotiating committee, tremendous representatives of the other members of this union.
They're independent thinkers and they take very, very seriously the commitment that the members of this union have always had, to further the rights of all players, past, current and future.
I'm not going to name all 30 of the guys. There are a few guys I do want to name. If logistics had not prevented this conference from taking place yesterday, you would have also seen Curtis Granderson, Aaron Heilman, Kevin Slowey, and Craig Counsell, four of our elected officers who were particularly involved.
I want to take just a moment to single out Craig Counsell for his service in this negotiation and for his service to the union. Craig was one of the players at the last negotiating meeting now both in 2006 and in 2011. I don't expect Craig to be on my negotiating committee in 2016, so I want to take a moment just to thank him for incredible and continued service to the cause of the players and to the union.
Time will tell whether we're going to be proud of the result of this bargaining. I truly think we will be, but we don't need any time to be proud of the process that we've just completed. The way that the players, the way that the union, and dare I say the Office of the Commissioner has conducted itself. This is collective bargaining, in my view, at its best is truly collective on the players’ side. Thank you for your indulgence.
COMMISSIONER SELIG: Thank you, Michael. I call on Rob Manfred now who represented Major League Baseball.
SELECT READ MORE TO SEE THE REST OF THIS INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT