WASHINGTON -- Major League Baseball Players Association executive director Michael Weiner provided some insight Wednesday into why collective bargaining between MLB and the Players Association successfully resulted in a new five-year Basic Agreement."We've been roundly applauded for achieving labor peace," Weiner said during a presentation at the National Press Club. "But I'll let you in on a little secret: Labor peace was not our goal. Negotiations to achieve a fair deal for the players, ideally, a good deal, was the goal. We wanted to get that without a work stoppage." Weiner said that 238 different players at one time or another sat in on negotiating sessions this past year. Players always have been part of the process, if not to that degree. It helped build mutual respect between the two sides, Weiner said. "What has changed is that baseball owners, led by Commissioner Bud Selig, have come to respect the collective power of their bargaining adversary, the players," Weiner said. "That respect was earned through [their] solidarity. Collective bargaining changes when each side respects the power of the other." Selig agreed. "We've come a long way," Selig said. "The issues are difficult, but there is a lot of mutual respect. And it has served all of us very well. While we have those difficult issues and will have disagreements, the fact of the matter is that the relationship is very constructive and as a result we have something that is very unprecedented -- 21 years of labor peace. It certainly is one of the prime reasons for the great growth in this sport." Selig also gave kudos to Rob Manfred, MLB's executive vice president of labor relations and human resources, for sustaining a strong relationship with the union. "He and Michael do all the work together," Selig said. "They deal with each other every day." Weiner went on to say that the nearly 11 months of negotiations included differences, but those issues were not aired in the media. "Our negotiations in 2011 with MLB were adversarial and at times intensely so," Weiner said, adding that is the nature of collective bargaining. "On controversial and provocative provisions, conversations were heated and opinions expressed. Meetings ended abruptly. People -- players, owners, negotiators for both sides -- got angry. We didn't air them out in the public as we had in the past, but that doesn't mean we didn't argue." The last three collective bargaining seasons in 2002, '06 and '11 all ended peacefully, and now baseball has a new agreement through the 2016 season. "Our new collective bargaining agreement amounts to far more than a truce," Weiner said. "It contains meaningful changes in the rules governing free agency, salary arbitration and the amateur Draft. Significant revisions in our revenue sharing, competitive balance tax and debt service rules, a new structure for our leagues and divisions, a new format for postseason play and dozens of other improvements in the working conditions of the players. "I credit Bud Selig, Rob Manfred and the MLB negotiators that not only are the players a force to be reckoned with, but in area after the area those 238 guys who showed up had good ideas not only in how to improve the game, but the industry."
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.