Major League Baseball and its Players Association have reached two unprecedented accords on concussion protocols and pension revisions for a limited group of its retired players.
While the NFL and its players are embroiled in a legal battle in federal court and the NBA and its players appear headed in the same direction, the working relationship between MLB owners and players is providing a model for labor relations in professional sports and cause for optimism among its fans for continued labor peace.
On March 29th, the parties announced the adoption of new protocols regarding concussions. A committee of experts selected by MLB and the players formulated a comprehensive policy governing the methods for diagnosing concussions and determining when players and umpires can return to the field.
The key components of the policy are:
- The creation of mandatory baseline neuropsychological testing requirements for all players and umpires;
- The establishment of mandatory protocols for evaluating players and umpires for possible concussions;
- The creation of a new seven (7) day disabled list for concussions; and,
- The creation of formal protocols for players and umpires before they can return to the field.
In addition, MLB and the Players Association plan to announce formally on April 21st that they have reached agreement on a substantial revision in the pension benefits for certain older, retired players. The revised benefits will assist players who accumulated less than four (4) years of major league service during their major league careers and who retired before 1980. This group of retirees has maintained for some time that they should receive increased pension benefits from the financial gains made by the players who they preceded in major league baseball. The current maximum pension for players who fully vest with ten (10) years of major league service is $195,000, starting at age 62.