Moffett, mediator, briefly head of a baseball union, died at 90
Kenneth Moffett, the federal mediator in the 1981 baseball strike that briefly succeeded Marvin Miller as head of the players’ association, has died. He was 90 years old.
Moffett died on Nov. 19 at his home in Alexandria, Virginia, his wife, ex-Mary Taddeo, said. He had been suffering from dementia for about six months and the death certificate cited natural causes, she said on Monday.
His death was first reported by the Washington Post.
Moffett was with the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service in 1980, when baseball players and owners struck a deal 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 shuttled between parties, organized bargaining sessions and suggested settlement frameworks.
He also worked for the FMCS during the August 1981 strike by the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization against the Federal Aviation Administration. President Ronald Reagan ordered the dismissal of workers who did not return to their jobs.
Moffett said in 1994 that baseball negotiations were different from all other types of collective bargaining.
“It’s done in a fish bowl,” Moffett told The Associated Press. “Every statement, every press release – whatever it is – is for public consumption. In most negotiations, you don’t hear a noise until there’s a settlement. “
As the union strike deadline approached in 1994, Moffett said, “My gut reaction is that it looks like nothing has changed. … The problems are always the same.
Moffett was hired in December 1982 as the second executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association and took over on January 1, 1983, when Miller retired before his 66th birthday. Moffett got a three-year contract, but only lasted 10 and a half months and was fired on November 22 by the union’s executive board.
Donald Fehr, then general counsel for the union, took over as interim executive director on December 8, became full-time executive director in January 1986, and held the top spot until his retirement in December 2009.
Moffett became assistant to the president of the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians in 1985. This union merged with the Communications Workers of America in 1994. He retired in 2003 as director of human resources for the CWA.
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 at the National Treasury Employees Union; son Jean; daughter Laura Tornell; and brothers Robert and Jack. Moffett’s three previous marriages have ended in divorce.
A memorial service is scheduled for Friday at Our Lady Queen of Peace in Arlington.