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O'Malley Signs Up Employees

May 24, 1997|BOB NIGHTENGALE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Dodger owner Peter O'Malley, protecting his employees from being arbitrarily fired after a possible sale to Rupert Murdoch, began providing personal service contracts Friday to his front-office staff.

It is the first time most of the employees have had a contract, including Fred Claire, executive vice president, who is expected to receive at least a three-year contract.

"I just think it's the right thing to do at this time," said O'Malley, whose family has owned the Dodgers since 1950. "The management team has a great reputation and will be recognized for a job well done with a look toward the future.

"This will not be a very difficult or long process, but it provides stability."

The Dodgers are negotiating the contracts without the input of Murdoch, O'Malley said.

"We have no handshake agreement and there is nothing in writing with anybody," O'Malley said. "This is strictly with the ballclub."

The news was greeted with relief and enthusiasm from many of the employees.

"I think this makes sense," Claire said, "and there are a lot of good reasons for it. It's good for management and for the company. This should be reassuring to the Dodger staff and its employees.

"Peter has always been good to the employees of the Dodgers, and in my view I don't see anything changing along the way during this transition period. I think this should be comforting to everybody."

The Dodgers are considered one of baseball's elite franchises while adhering to financial constraints. The Dodgers' $44-million player payroll is the highest in franchise history, but ranks only about 13th among all teams.

The Dodgers also have had perhaps the most stability of any franchise in baseball. Claire has been with the Dodgers for 29 years, and his 10 years as general manager is the second-longest tenure in baseball. Bill Russell is only the Dodgers' third manager in the last 43 years.

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