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Parker Hageman
03-19-2013, 12:03 PM
Major League Baseball is discussing doing away with a pension fund for team’s non-uniformed personnel, including the scouts and front office members, writes Adam Rubin for ESPNNewYork.com (http://espn.go.com/new-york/mlb/story/_/id/9070691/mlb-owners-want-abolish-pensions-personnel-sources-say).

According the website’s sources, owners attempted to revoke this pension plan last year but it was voted down. This year, however, owners will have a second vote, intended to be kept secret, at an owners meeting in May. Interestingly enough, this will not affect employees of the Minnesota Twins, as the ballclub was one of four MLB teams to opt out of the plan.

While this may seem galling for an industry making over $8 billion annually to put the screw job to scouts who average less than $40,000 a year, this is the tread with the private sector. In 1979, the article cites, more than 28 percent of private-sector worker received defined-benefit pension plans. That number has declined to less than 3 percent in 2012.

IdahoPilgrim
03-19-2013, 12:31 PM
Welcome to the 21st century.

nicksaviking
03-19-2013, 01:56 PM
The article makes it sound like the Tigers and White Sox ownerships are against revoking pensions. I wonder what the Twins "comparable" plan is? Probably your average 401K? I can't see the banker Pohlad's being on the generous side of this equation.

I'm getting tired of the other teams in the AL Central coming across as a champion of the fans and employees while our Twins do the opposite.

Mr. Brooks
03-19-2013, 01:57 PM
And yet there are people out there who say that unions are outdated and unnecessary.
Isnt it great how a corporation can just vote to do away with a benefit that people were promised when they were hired.

ThePuck
03-19-2013, 03:34 PM
why are we not surprised the Twins opted out of the pension plan to begin with?

spideyo
03-19-2013, 09:01 PM
Company 401k Plans - Minnesota Twins Pension Plan (http://401k-plans.findthebest.com/l/349681/Minnesota-Twins-Pension-Plan)

I'm sure a large part of the reason they opted out initially (although it's not clear when they actually opted out) is that Pohlad probably felt they could run things more efficiently and better for the whole organization by doing their own thing rather than letting the League dictate things.

While we all may have our gripes about how the team spends money on it's athletes, they really do take good care of their people. There's a reason why it's really hard to get a foot in the door with the Twins, and a reason why most people stick around with the organization for a very long time.

spideyo
03-19-2013, 09:07 PM
Also: Company 401k Plans - Minnesota Twins Profit Sharing/401k Plan (http://401k-plans.findthebest.com/l/166158/Minnesota-Twins-Profit-Sharing-401k-Plan)

glunn
03-19-2013, 09:22 PM
Company 401k Plans - Minnesota Twins Pension Plan (http://401k-plans.findthebest.com/l/349681/Minnesota-Twins-Pension-Plan)

I'm sure a large part of the reason they opted out initially (although it's not clear when they actually opted out) is that Pohlad probably felt they could run things more efficiently and better for the whole organization by doing their own thing rather than letting the League dictate things.

While we all may have our gripes about how the team spends money on it's athletes, they really do take good care of their people. There's a reason why it's really hard to get a foot in the door with the Twins, and a reason why most people stick around with the organization for a very long time.

Nice research to find this link! It would be interesting to find out what percentage of compensation the Twins are contributing.

Brock Beauchamp
03-20-2013, 07:08 AM
And yet there are people out there who say that unions are outdated and unnecessary.
Isnt it great how a corporation can just vote to do away with a benefit that people were promised when they were hired.

This is something that fascinates me with modern conservatism. In a free market, unions should be embraced with open arms. They are a private organization to fight for workers' rights... In a truly free market, they are the only organization capable of fighting for workers' rights.

I don't like a lot of the things unions do and have done over the years, but without government intervention into the free market (which we all know is bad, right? RIGHT?), it's the only logical solution to combat corporate control over workplace conditions.

IdahoPilgrim
03-20-2013, 08:03 AM
This is something that fascinates me with modern conservatism. In a free market, unions should be embraced with open arms. They are a private organization to fight for workers' rights... In a truly free market, they are the only organization capable of fighting for workers' rights.

I don't like a lot of the things unions do and have done over the years, but without government intervention into the free market (which we all know is bad, right? RIGHT?), it's the only logical solution to combat corporate control over workplace conditions.

I believe you are correct in that it is the existence of corporations that makes unions necessary. Classical capitalism never conceived of corporations - most suppliers and producers were small and interchangeable, so workers could move from one to another in response to work conditions. When corporations changed the employment environment, giving fewer options and less mobility, there needed to be a counterbalance, which is what unions provided.

In a capitalistic system, what's wrong with an organization that seeks the best interests of it's members? That's what capitalism is all about - seeking to advance yourselves. That's Adam Smith's invisible hand - the idea that when all participants put their own best interests first, it works for the betterment of all society.

Mr. Brooks
03-20-2013, 08:10 AM
Not to take this too far political. But, I'm sure the classic answer from someone who is anti union would be, "the great thing about capitalism is that if employers treat their employees unfairly, there will always be competition that will offer them better 'x' (pay, benefits,conditions, etc.)
And I'm fine with that, if they go with some kind of grandfather rule. But, if they dont, then the point that that person would be ignoring is: what about all the current employees who were promised a pension when they were hired?

Brock Beauchamp
03-20-2013, 08:11 AM
I believe you are correct in that it is the existence of corporations that makes unions necessary. Classical capitalism never conceived of corporations - most suppliers and producers were small and interchangeable, so workers could move from one to another in response to work conditions. When corporations changed the employment environment, giving fewer options and less mobility, there needed to be a counterbalance, which is what unions provided.

In a capitalistic system, what's wrong with an organization that seeks the best interests of it's members? That's what capitalism is all about - seeking to advance yourselves. That's Adam Smith's invisible hand - the idea that when all participants put their own best interests first, it works for the betterment of all society.

Exactly. Before the industrial revolution, unions were needed (obviously), but not nearly to the extent they were after corporate behemoths began to dominate the landscape. Once a few large players could control such a large portion of the workforce, it was only logical that worker-based organizations would rise up to combat them and fight for their own interests.

Just one of the fallacies of modern conservatism that I can't wrap my head around. There are so many opposing viewpoints in conservatism that, when compared to one another, don't add up to a cohesive view of the world. Free markets without unions, end government welfare but make no attempt to control unwanted pregnancies, marginalize the middle class in favor of the wealthy, continue ad nauseum.

kab21
03-20-2013, 08:13 AM
This is not a union vs non union issue. MLB is taking away pensions earned in the past. It is simply choosing to further fund 401K's instead of a pension in the future.

If I ran a business there would be absolutely no way that I would include a pension plan. It's a scary business model and I definitely don't fault MLB for switching to a 401K.

Unions had their place and were instrumental in significant improvements in workers in the early 20th century but they abused their power. The UAW and some of their workers took things to absolutely ridiculous levels.

kab21
03-20-2013, 08:14 AM
Not to take this too far political. But, I'm sure the classic answer from someone who is anti union would be, "the great thing about capitalism is that if employers treat their employees unfairly, there will always be competition that will offer them better 'x' (pay, benefits,conditions, etc.)
And I'm fine with that, if they go with some kind of grandfather rule. But, if they dont, then the point that that person would be ignoring is: what about all the current employees who were promised a pension when they were hired?

They still get a pension.

Brock Beauchamp
03-20-2013, 08:16 AM
Not to take this too far political. But, I'm sure the classic answer from someone who is anti union would be, "the great thing about capitalism is that if employers treat their employees unfairly, there will always be competition that will offer them better 'x' (pay, benefits,conditions, etc.)
And I'm fine with that, if they go with some kind of grandfather rule. But, if they dont, then the point that that person would be ignoring is: what about all the current employees who were promised a pension when they were hired?

Which is fine if you ignore the fact that the best way for workers to fight for their rights is to get together, collectively agree upon terms, and fight for their own self-interest.

After all, isn't capitalism based on protecting our own self-interest? That's the logical fallacy that bothers me most. Some are supposed to fight for self-interest as an entity (corporations), but others are not (unions). It doesn't make sense.

Brock Beauchamp
03-20-2013, 08:18 AM
This is not a union vs non union issue. MLB is taking away pensions earned in the past. It is simply choosing to further fund 401K's instead of a pension in the future.

If I ran a business there would be absolutely no way that I would include a pension plan. It's a scary business model and I definitely don't fault MLB for switching to a 401K.

Unions had their place and were instrumental in significant improvements in workers in the early 20th century but they abused their power. The UAW and some of their workers took things to absolutely ridiculous levels.

Pensions are definitely an awful idea. After a time, it creates built-in expenses that can drive a company into the ground and reduces production per dollar spent.

I'm not saying unions are always right, just talking about the oddities that define modern conservatism. I guess I kind of highjacked the thread...

Oldgoat_MN
03-20-2013, 08:30 AM
To me what gets lost on so many is that, except for owners of large corporations, we ALL make more money because of the gains unions have made for their members.

One need not read a lot of history to see that.

But this isn't necessarily a bad thing for the owners or employees going forward.
Hopefully whatever change the owners make works for everybody.

When I had a dozen employees I had a 401k option. No business size increase would have convinced me to change that to a pension.

IdahoPilgrim
03-20-2013, 09:51 AM
I understand the change that is going on in the workplace concerning retirement savings/security, and the reasons for the shift from defined-benefit to defined-contribution plans. The danger is that too many Americans don't have a good enough understanding about personal finance to know how to save for retirement, and too many don't make enough to be able to save for retirement. Even managing the asset allocation of a 401k is a skill that many in this country don't have - such as not keeping all your assets in company stock (think Enron).

We are heading to a time when retirement will become a thing of the past - people will work until they are no longer able to work, and then they'll have to depend on the grace of friends and family to survive - that's the system we had before the social safety net was created. And, of course, people being forced to work longer and postpone (or cancel) retirement creates more pressure on the job market, pushing up unemployment, particularly for younger workers trying to make a start.

At least there is Twins baseball to take our mind off this bleak picture!:D

Mr. Brooks
03-20-2013, 12:08 PM
They still get a pension.

No, it said in the article that they were CONSIDERING grandfathering in current employees, but had not yet decided if they would.

IdahoPilgrim
03-20-2013, 12:32 PM
No, it said in the article that they were CONSIDERING grandfathering in current employees, but had not yet decided if they would.

I'm guessing the article is a bit imprecise. Most pensions have some benefits which are vested and some which are not vested, usually determined by time in plan. Benefits which are vested would be guaranteed, by the government (funded by pension providers) if not by the company, and the employee would not lose any pension credits already earned. MLB could, however, stop issuing new credits to those already in the plan, i.e. they wouldn't lose the pension they have but the amount of the benefit would not increase any further from this point on, no matter how much longer they worked.

Mr. Brooks
03-20-2013, 12:55 PM
I'm guessing the article is a bit imprecise. Most pensions have some benefits which are vested and some which are not vested, usually determined by time in plan. Benefits which are vested would be guaranteed, by the government (funded by pension providers) if not by the company, and the employee would not lose any pension credits already earned. MLB could, however, stop issuing new credits to those already in the plan, i.e. they wouldn't lose the pension they have but the amount of the benefit would not increase any further from this point on, no matter how much longer they worked.

Even so, thats not what they were promised when they were hired.
Even if they get to keep what is vested, we all know that most often these pension plans are weighted heavily towards the back end of the vesting period.
Maybe MLB is different, but the company my brother in law works for, AND the company my wife works for (2 completely different companies) both have pension plans that vest drastically more rapidly in the later years, than the early years.
The reason you stay at this company for the first 10 or so years is a sacrifice for the next 10 or so years. But to suddenly pull the rug out after those first 10 years and tell an employee, "well, you held up your end of the bargain, but hey,we've voted to not hold up our end of it", seems very wrong and greedy to me.
If they want to change the policy for any new hires going forward, that is one thing, but they shouldnt be changing or altering what the current employees were promised when they were hired.

kab21
03-20-2013, 11:23 PM
I'm guessing the article is a bit imprecise. Most pensions have some benefits which are vested and some which are not vested, usually determined by time in plan. Benefits which are vested would be guaranteed, by the government (funded by pension providers) if not by the company, and the employee would not lose any pension credits already earned. MLB could, however, stop issuing new credits to those already in the plan, i.e. they wouldn't lose the pension they have but the amount of the benefit would not increase any further from this point on, no matter how much longer they worked.

That's correct. I will still receive $200/mo at some ungodly high retirement age for working at Ford Motor Company for 3.5 yrs (non-union).

Mr Brooks is right though. The financial IQ of workers in the US is unbelievably low. The workers that could get hurt are those with no significant savings outside of the MLB pension plan and social security. Sadly people don't think ahead.

Mr. Brooks
03-21-2013, 10:49 AM
That's correct. I will still receive $200/mo at some ungodly high retirement age for working at Ford Motor Company for 3.5 yrs (non-union).

Mr Brooks is right though. The financial IQ of workers in the US is unbelievably low. The workers that could get hurt are those with no significant savings outside of the MLB pension plan and social security. Sadly people don't think ahead.

I dont think peoples financial IQ has anything to do with it.
Even if someone has managed their money well, and has enough saved up to retire on already, it doesnt change the fact one bit that they should get what they were promised when they were hired.
Its the principle of it.

Willihammer
03-21-2013, 11:50 AM
I am short on sympathy for anyone who thinks they have signed up for a 20 year commitment from their employer to never change their wages or benefits, or lay them off. The pension funds accrued to this point will not disappear and that's all you could reasonably expect IMHO.

Brandon
03-21-2013, 12:48 PM
union = mob mentality.

I worked at ups when i was told i had to strike. management offered more money in exchange for 50% of control of pension as they felt the union was mismanaging the money. I was coerced and some people who chose not to strike had cars vandalized people were threatened. the unions walked more over the freedoms of the employee's then management did. Unions are way outdated. There are laws in place for a safe work environment. If you go to work for the benefit of a pension or a promise of payments 30 years from now ....here's your sign (engvall's sign for stupid) the business may not be around then. you as an individual are responsible for your retirement and well being. If you are offered a pension and the company decides to discontinue it. The you as an individual can exercise your right to leave that company. Its not like the union is going to help an employee who gets downsized 1 year before full pension benefits kick in. (thats not me by the way I left UPS years ago). Individuals should have the right to opt out of paying union dues (that may go to political parties you may not agree with) and being part of a union as a means to employment.

Mr. Brooks
03-23-2013, 01:38 PM
I am short on sympathy for anyone who thinks they have signed up for a 20 year commitment from their employer to never change their wages or benefits, or lay them off. The pension funds accrued to this point will not disappear and that's all you could reasonably expect IMHO.

Yeah, the wages to pension argument is comparing apples to oranges.
The only way it would be similar is if your company told you they were going to hire you at minimum wage, but if you stayed and worked for minimum wage for 10 years, they would bump you up to $40/hr for the next ten years, only to pull the rug out after the first 10 years and say, "haha, just kidding. We voted to change that, you just worked 10 years @ minimum wage for nothing!!"

Willihammer
03-25-2013, 12:27 PM
Something soemthing world's smallest violin.

Get it in writing next time!

Mr. Brooks
03-25-2013, 06:07 PM
Something soemthing world's smallest violin.

Get it in writing next time!

You're right, there was probably nothing in writing.
Most huge companies like the MLB and MLB teams hire people with nothing but a handshake and a smile.
That's kinda my point about the unions.
I'm guessing the pension plan was in writing (has anyone here ever heard of a pension plan that was not written down somewhere?), but who do you think is going to be able to win in court, MLB with millions of dollars worth of hot shot lawyers, or a few non union employees pulling 80k a year?

Willihammer
03-25-2013, 07:41 PM
but who do you think is going to be able to win in court?
MLB because no contract was broken and nobody was screwed out of any guaranteed money

Brock Beauchamp
03-26-2013, 06:18 AM
I'm sure glad people on the internet have curt and easy answers to all of life's problems.

After all, it's not like peoples' futures are at stake here or anything. A simple "get it in writing!" will teach those troglodytes their lesson. After that, screw 'em.

Brock Beauchamp
03-26-2013, 06:28 AM
Unions are way outdated. There are laws in place for a safe work environment. If you go to work for the benefit of a pension or a promise of payments 30 years from now ....here's your sign (engvall's sign for stupid) the business may not be around then. you as an individual are responsible for your retirement and well being. If you are offered a pension and the company decides to discontinue it. The you as an individual can exercise your right to leave that company.

Oy. This line of reasoning makes my head spin.

So if a company lies to you and intentionally deceives you, baiting you to join a company, work there for years, and then retract promises, you have a right to leave?

Since when are companies above keeping their promises? If a worker is promised something, they deserve to receive it, no matter how ludicrous the promise. That's how contracts and promises work in a civilized society.

Unions will have a reason to exist (and should exist) as long as corporations and large employers exist. That should be obvious to anyone and hell, I don't even like most unions (and have never been a member of one). Safe working conditions have nothing to do it with it. Unions exist to push back against the corporation, to levy worker power against corporate power. It's how the free market does and should work. Again, I do not understand modern conservative rhetoric that is anti-government, pro-business, and... anti-union. Without government intervention, unions are the most logical agency to defend the workforce. Actually, they're the only agency left to defend the workforce.

Oh, wait... Yeah, I do understand why conservatives are anti-union... It's because they vote Democrat. It has nothing to do with free markets, fair policies, or government intervention. It's politicking at its basest and most nauseating level. And people buy into this crap. It's contradictory and nonsensical.

TheLeviathan
03-26-2013, 06:48 AM
I guess to me I see this as natural pushback. Let's face it, corporations and unions both go too far. I think we are cycling in a strong push-back after what has largely been a half century of unions dominating business models. This won't be pretty but we will likely just see a union resurgence in the future. As Brock said - union/corp is a natural free market dynamic. IMO we are a bit overdue for a pushback. (Though it would be better if the pushback came from employees to their union but most large unions essentially act like their own businesses who equally could care less about employees.)

Willihammer
03-26-2013, 08:03 AM
I'm sure glad people on the internet have curt and easy answers to all of life's problems.

After all, it's not like peoples' futures are at stake here or anything. A simple "get it in writing!" will teach those troglodytes their lesson. After that, screw 'em.
Nobody budgets for 20 year commitments to their employees, that was the point I was contesting. No union will be able to bargain for that.

And to repeat again, nobody's furture's are being compromised here. Heck some employees might stand to benefit from this. We certainly haven't heard any of the same indignation from the employees who will actually be effected by this. So where is the logic that says "they need to start blowing 2 percent of their wages on union dues!" coming from?

Mr. Brooks
03-26-2013, 03:34 PM
Nobody budgets for 20 year commitments to their employees, that was the point I was contesting. No union will be able to bargain for that.

And to repeat again, nobody's furture's are being compromised here. Heck some employees might stand to benefit from this. We certainly haven't heard any of the same indignation from the employees who will actually be effected by this. So where is the logic that says "they need to start blowing 2 percent of their wages on union dues!" coming from?

My question for you then:
Why even bother having the pension plan to begin with?
If your contention is that both sides should consider something like that as meaningless as the paper its written on during the hiring process, they why even offer it in the first place?

It seems to me that when you offer a pension plan as one of the benefits of a hiring package, it should be considered some type of commitment, even if it's not legally binding.
I mean, what ever happened to the integrity of keeping your word, even if you are not required to?

Willihammer
03-26-2013, 05:07 PM
My question for you then:
Why even bother having the pension plan to begin with?
If your contention is that both sides should consider something like that as meaningless as the paper its written on during the hiring process, they why even offer it in the first place?

My contention is that its preposterous to expect an employer to pay into a pension fund until it matures, given they are bearing all the risk of it and the economy has gone to crap. Thats equivalent to saying you expect to be employed by the same employer from the day you sign up, until a few years before you retire, since your length of employment is the multiplier, and nothing less than a fully matured pension payout when you retire equals a corporate screwjob. That is such a hard-line, self-entitled and reckless way of thinking, it is no wonder unions have driven themselves into irrelevancy with it.

Mr. Brooks
03-26-2013, 06:55 PM
My contention is that its preposterous to expect an employer to pay into a pension fund until it matures, given they are bearing all the risk of it and the economy has gone to crap. Thats equivalent to saying you expect to be employed by the same employer from the day you sign up, until a few years before you retire, since your length of employment is the multiplier, and nothing less than a fully matured pension payout when you retire equals a corporate screwjob. That is such a hard-line, self-entitled and reckless way of thinking, it is no wonder unions have driven themselves into irrelevancy with it.

Okay, but that didnt answer my question.
If you are saying its preposterous to expect an employer to actually pay into it until its mature, then why offer it in the first place?
In your argument, the employer is only using the offer of a pension as an enticement for the potential employee to accept the job offer, with the employer knowing they don't actually intend to fulfill it.
To me that seems deceptive at best.

Willihammer
03-26-2013, 08:12 PM
Was the recession part of this deception? The way you are framing this is strangely conspiratorial. Where do you think the MLB does its business? The economy takes a crap, so employers lay people off and/or cut into their wages and/or benefits. Its been known to happen. There are 40 million unemployed Americans willing to work for pennies on the dollar. Labor is a market just like any other. The price has gone down, that's all. No deception.

Mr. Brooks
03-26-2013, 08:44 PM
Was the recession part of this deception? The way you are framing this is strangely conspiratorial. Where do you think the MLB does its business? The economy takes a crap, so employers lay people off and/or cut into their wages and/or benefits. Its been known to happen. There are 40 million unemployed Americans willing to work for pennies on the dollar. Labor is a market just like any other. The price has gone down, that's all. No deception.

Lets just agree to disagree. I'm not going to change my mind and neither are you. We have philosophical differences of opinion. I'm a believer in keeping your word, no matter what, no matter the consequences. You're a believer in $$$ is the bottom line, no matter what, no matter the consequences. Which is fine.

I have a hard time believing the recession is hurting the MLB too bad, considering the record contracts they've been giving to players the last 5 years.

Willihammer
03-27-2013, 11:17 AM
Yes, MLB should finance a premium pension plan in the same way you or I should finance a $30 thousand new, union-built Chevy instead of an equivalent used Korean car for $5k, "no matter the consequences." MLB doesn't have any higher moral obligation to act irrationally than you or I do just because its rich.

ThePuck
03-27-2013, 02:49 PM
I enjoy my pension...