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Baseball Players’ Union Reshuffles Legal Ranks After Labor Deal

July 6, 2022, 9:17 PM

The Major League Baseball Players Association named a new general counsel and promoted the lawyer who negotiated the deal that ended this year’s lockout in a series of personnel moves announced on Wednesday.

The union elevated deputy general counsel Matthew Nussbaum to general counsel, succeeding Ian Penny, who will become a senior adviser to Tony Clark, the union’s executive director and a former player.

Bruce Meyer, a former partner at Weil, Gotshal & Manges who has been senior director for collective bargaining and legal for the labor union representing MLB players, has been promoted to deputy executive director.

Meyer took the lead negotiating an end to a 99-day lockout of MLB players in March that resulted in a new five-year collective bargaining agreement with the league.

Assistant general counsel Jeffrey Perconte, a former federal prosecutor initially hired by the union in 2017, has been promoted to deputy general counsel to replace Nussbaum, a former Jones Day associate who has worked for the MLBPA since 2011.

“Our players are the best in the world at what they do, and they have a staff working on their behalf that mirrors that same level of excellence,” Clark said in a statement announcing the moves. “These promotions are a further reflection of that standard.”

The MLBPA said that in Meyer’s new position he will have a “leading role in all labor negotiations.” Meyer was the highest-paid MLBPA in-house lawyer last year at roughly $1 million in total compensation, according to filings with the Department of Labor. Penny, who has worked for the union since 2010 and was named general counsel in 2017, received roughly $684,300.

Penny and Meyer once worked for the National Hockey League Players Association, which Penny briefly led in 2009.

Meyer also spent more than three decades working at Weil in New York, where he was frequently retained by professional sports unions to advise on a variety of antitrust, collective bargaining, and licensing disputes. The NHLPA hired Meyer in 2016 and after two years there he left to take a similar role at the MLBPA.

One of Meyer’s first challenges in joining the MLBPA was the coronavirus pandemic, which shortened the league’s 2020 season and resulted in a bevy of health and safety protocols that needed to be collectively bargained.

Bloomberg Law reported that the New York-based MLBPA paid more than $2.2 million to Winston & Strawn during its most recent fiscal year as it sought to resolve the lockout that threatened the 2022 season, which began in April after a slight delay. The league and owners of its 30 teams were advised by their longtime labor counsel at Proskauer Rose.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Baxter in New York at bbaxter@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com; John Hughes at jhughes@bloombergindustry.com