At this point, the timeline for a potential resolution is not entirely clear. The Athletic’s Evan Drellich and Ken Rosenthal report that the grievance was actually filed two weeks ago, adding that the league argued in response that 60 games was the maximum possible for health and safety reasons. Of course, the league itself submitted proposals for more games, although it did so with additional pay cuts that MLB knew to be a non-starter in talks with the union.
The Post and Athletic note that the league has asked the union to expedite this grievance so that a resolution can be found before the imminent expiration of the collective agreement on December 1, 2021. However, it also seems viable for the union may delay the process so that a possible concession of dropping the grievance can be used as a bargaining ploy in these CBA talks.
The crux of the grievance appears to come from the wording of the March 26 agreement reached between MLB and MLBPA last year. This agreement stipulated that the league would do its best to play as many games as possible. Less than a month after making the deal, the two sides engaged in a new debate, once it became clear that it would not be possible to have fans present. The union left a window open for owners to relinquish their commitment to prorated wages, as the wording of the March deal said the two sides would “discuss in good faith the economic feasibility of play games in the absence of spectators ”.
The result was a hideous debate, which lasted for months, which unfolded in front of the public eye. A new deal was never reached and Commissioner Rob Manfred ultimately implemented a 60-game schedule under the terms of that March deal. Players were given the prorated version of their salary – roughly 37% of what they initially earned with a full 162-game slate. Duty time was also prorated so that one day on the MLB roster in the shortened schedule equals approximately 2.77 days of duty time. The incentive clauses and the triggering conditions for vesting options for player contracts have also been calculated on a pro rata basis.
Now it looks like the two sides are set to argue again over the vague and nebulous language of this March deal – this time in a more immediate context of collective bargaining. If the two parties cannot agree on a form of settlement, the grievance will eventually be heard by an arbitration committee composed of three people. Because one member of this panel represents the union and another represents the league, the outcome will actually be the decision of the one-third, mutually agreed upon.