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Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Baseball Arbitrator Roberts Obituary

The New York Times published the obituary today of Thomas T. Roberts, a famed baseball arbitrator. According to the obit:
In August 1986, Mr. Roberts was fired by the baseball owners’ labor arm after he ruled that teams could not negotiate drug-testing clauses with players individually; they had to deal with the players union on that issue, under a collective arrangement, he said.

At the time, Mr. Roberts was holding a hearing into players’ accusations that owners had conspired to restrict the movement of free agents after the 1985 season. The players union charged that Mr. Roberts had been dismissed to sabotage the free-agent conspiracy case, but management denied it.

Mr. Roberts was reinstated by another arbitrator, and in September 1987 he issued his finding in the conspiracy case.

Ruling on a complaint brought by the Major League Baseball Players Association, Mr. Roberts noted that after the 1985 season, no teams had sought to sign free agents unless their old clubs had lost interest in them. He termed that “a strong indication of concerted action,” something prohibited by baseball’s collective bargaining agreement.

Mr. Roberts was fired again by management after that ruling. Another arbitrator, George Nicolau, later ruled that baseball management had continued its collusion against free agents after the 1986 and 1987 seasons.
HT to the WSJ Law Blog.


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