Players ratify five-year labor deal

Dec 7, 2006 - 9:02 PM BONITA SPRINGS, Florida (Ticker) -- There will be labor peace in baseball for another five years.

Major League Baseball Players Association announced Thursday that an agreement between the baseball owners and MLBPA that was announced during the World Series has been ratified. The announcement was made by MLBPA executive director Donald Fehr.

The accord was reached an unprecedented two months prior to the expiration date of the existing agreement and is the longest labor contract in baseball history. It will run through December 11, 2011.

By the end of the agreement, baseball will have gone 16 years without a work stoppage, its longest period of labor peace.

"This is a historic agreement for Major League Baseball and is emblematic of the spirit of cooperation and trust that now exists between the clubs and players," MLB Commissioner Bud Selig said on October 24 prior to a World Series contest between Detroit and St. Louis. "We are in the midst of the Golden Age.

"More than 76 million fans attended our games this season, setting an attendance record for a third straight season, and we produced $5.2 billion in revenue, which more than quadruples our revenue total of 14 years ago."

The current contract reached in August 2002 was set to expire on December 19. There were eight work stoppages between 1972-1995.

"I think both sides have a better relationship when they are both making money," Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland said at the time. "It always seems to work out in the end, doesn't it?"

The highlights of the new agreement include a continued competitive balance tax structure that was implemented in 2002; continued revenue sharing and provisions requiring revenue-sharing recipients to spend to improve on-field performance; an increase in the minimum salary; and modifications to the amateur draft.

"I share the commissioner's view that over the last 10 years our game has experienced enormous growth," Fehr said in October. "This new agreement will permit that growth to continue uninterrupted."

The threshold for the luxury tax, which provides funds from big-market teams to small-market ones, rises from $136.5 million to $148 million next season with five percent annual increases.

The rates will continue at 22.5 percent for clubs over the threshold the first time, 30 percent for the second time and 40 percent for a third time.

The drug program put in place in November 2005 will continue throughout the term, home-field advantage in the World Series will continue to go to the league that wins the All-Star Game, and there will be no contraction during the course of the agreement.

The minimum salary will go from $327,000 to $380,000 in 2007 with $10,000 increases each season thereafter. Some compensatory picks for losing certain types of free agents will be eliminated.

Regarding the draft, clubs that fail to sign first- or second-round picks will receive the same selection in the subsequent draft as compensation. This will allow small-market teams the ability to go after the better players instead of settling for players who will accept the bonus money being offered.

A signing deadline of August 15 for draft picks other than college seniors also will be implemented.

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