ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Kenneth Moffett, the federal mediator during the 1981 baseball strike that briefly succeeded Marvin Miller as the second director of the players’ association, has died. He was 90 years old.
Moffett died Nov. 19 at his home in Alexandria, Virginia, said his wife, the former Mary Taddeo. He had been ill with dementia for about six months and the death certificate cited natural causes, he said Monday.
His death was first reported by The New York Times.
Moffett joined the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service in 1980, when baseball players and owners reached an agreement that postponed a work stoppage until the following year. As deputy director of the FMCS during the 50-day strike that interrupted the 1981 season, he moved between the parties, organized negotiation sessions and suggested frameworks for reaching an agreement.
He also worked at the FMCS during the August 1981 strike by the Organization of Professional Air Traffic Controllers against the Federal Aviation Administration. President Ronald Reagan ordered the firing of workers who did not return to their jobs.
Moffett said in 1994 that baseball bargaining was different from all other types of collective bargaining.
“It’s done in a fish tank,” Moffett told The Associated Press. “Every statement, every press release, anything, is for public consumption. In most negotiations, you don’t hear a peep until there is an agreement.”
As the union’s strike deadline in 1994 approached, Moffett said: “My knee-jerk reaction is that nothing seems to have changed … The problems remain the same.”
Moffett was hired in December 1982 as the second executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association and took office on January 1, 1983, when Miller retired before his 66th birthday. Moffett received a three-year contract, but it lasted only 10 and a half months and was fired on November 22 by the union’s executive board.
Donald Fehr, then the union’s general counsel, assumed the role of interim CEO on December 8, became a full-time CEO in January 1986, and held the top job until his retirement in December 2009.
Moffett became an assistant to the president of the National Association of Broadcasting Employees and Technicians in 1985. That union merged with the Communications Workers of America in 1994. He retired in 2003 as the CWA’s director of human resources.
Moffett is survived by his fourth wife, whom he married in 1999; and three children of his first wife, Barbara: his son Kenneth Jr., director of negotiations for the National Treasury Employees Union; son John; and daughter Laura Tornell. Moffett’s three previous marriages ended in divorce.