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Baseball Employees Feel Rigidity Of Uniform Employment Contract In 2020

For decades, baseball operations employees have known that their contracts restricted their ability to jump from team to team and in doing so, it restricted their bargaining power.

But that tradeoff came with the valuable stability of a contract guaranteeing that as long as the employee didn’t violate the terms of the contract, they were ensured to be employed and paid for the full duration of the deal.

This year has made scouts, coaches and other front office officials realize how untrue that assumption actually is.

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The Uniform Employment Contract does a good job of ensuring that an employee cannot leave to go work for any other club until their current contract expires, but the pay guarantee to the employee comes with some very significant exceptions.

The UEC has a provision that says the commissioner can suspend the contract in the case of a national emergency or if the Major League Baseball season is suspended or called off. That happened this year, as teams cut the salaries of employees under contract and in some cases furloughed them and stopped paying them once a national emergency was declared because of the coronavirus pandemic. That contract suspension currently remains in effect.

The contract also states that the exclusivity provisions of the contract remain in full effect even if the contract is suspended. Even if a team opts to not pay their employee, the unpaid employee is not allowed to look for work with any other team without their current team’s permission.

It actually goes beyond that. The UEC that most MLB baseball operations employees sign allows their team to terminate them at any moment with 10 days notice. The employees are bound to the club for the remainder of the contract, but the club can at any point let the employee go with a check for 10 days of future pay.

Many employees know to get an addendum added that requires the MLB team to pay the remainder of their contract in the case of a termination without cause. But for employees who don’t know, or don’t feel, that they have the leverage to request that addendum, the contract is not a guarantee of employment.

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