John Middleton

Source: Phillies employees safe through October, ownership confident games will be played in 2020

Source: Phillies employees safe through October, ownership confident games will be played in 2020

Three weeks after informing full-time employees that their jobs were safe through May, Phillies ownership stepped up again on Friday and ensured employees' jobs through October.

"The Buck and Middleton families have decided that there will be no furloughs or layoffs due to the coronavirus crisis through the end of our fiscal year (October 31, 2020) for regular full-time employees," managing partner John Middleton wrote in a letter emailed to employees and obtained by NBC Sports Philadelphia. 

"While we will likely need to implement other cost-cutting alternatives in the interim to deal with our extraordinary loss of revenue, including possible salary reductions, you can be assured of your job and health insurance for the next five-plus months."

From the front office to the field, from Philadelphia to Clearwater, Florida to the Dominican Republic, the Phillies have more than 460 full-time employees.

Last month, Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred suspended uniform employee contracts. The move gave teams the right to furlough or lay off some front office personnel as well as field personnel such as managers, coaches and scouts. The Phillies will not do any of that.

In his April 17 letter to employees, Middleton expressed confidence that baseball would be played at some point in 2020. He expressed further confidence in Friday's correspondence.

"Today, I am even more optimistic about that," Middleton wrote. "The caveat, of course, is that our games may be played in empty ballparks or with far fewer fans than normal. Playing in empty ballparks will test the financial viability of our franchise and the other 29 teams, but our industry is determined to make it work, and I am confident that we will find a way."

Middleton urged employees to remain flexible because of the uncertainty caused by the health crisis and he thanked them for how they have responded during the eight-week shutdown.

"You have successfully transitioned to working remotely, you have given back to the community, you have engaged with our fans, you have partnered with our sponsors and you have prepared for a virtual draft," he wrote. "Above all else, you have supported each other. These are the kinds of actions and behaviors that make me honored to call you my colleagues and to be part of your team. Together we will get through this, not without pain, but ultimately as a better organization and as better people."

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Phillies treat 350 employees to virtual pizza party

Phillies treat 350 employees to virtual pizza party

Social distancing has forced people to get creative in the way they bond with friends during the coronavirus health crisis. Virtual happy hours and virtual game nights have become quite popular. Last Thursday night, more than 350 Phillies employees got together for a virtual pizza party.

"It was a lot of fun," one participant said. "A really nice gesture. It was great to see everybody."

The event required some significant planning. Thirty-two employees were designated as "pizza captains." Each captain reached out to a group of employees and received individual pizza orders. The orders were phoned in to each employee's favorite pizza shop for pickup or delivery. Some 280 pizzas were ordered and 180 local pizza shops were supported. A group of high-ranking team officials — the folks at the front of the media guide, as they say — personally picked up the tab for the pizza party, which was hosted by executive VP Dave Buck. 

Employees from 12 different departments from the front office to the playing field participated in the 90-minute party. Folks logged in from 20 different states and the Dominican Republic.

Manager Joe Girardi participated from his home in Florida. Scott Kingery logged in. And there were two special guests — Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley. Not sure if they were thin-crust or thick-crust guys.

The Phillies' offices have been closed since mid-March. While some teams have cut pay and furloughed employees during the shutdown, the Phillies have committed to paying full-time staff through the month of May. The team has also offered fans the opportunity to seek refunds for April and May games that have been impacted by the shutdown.

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Sources: Phillies owners commit to pay employees through May

Sources: Phillies owners commit to pay employees through May

Phillies employees, in a letter from managing partner John Middleton, were informed on Friday that there would be no change to any full-time worker's employment status through the month of May. No layoffs. No pay cuts.

"I am neither an epidemiologist nor a public policy maker, but I do know our industry, and it is my sincere belief that baseball will be played this year," Middleton wrote in the letter, which was obtained by NBC Sports Philadelphia. "I may be proven incorrect, but that is how I am thinking and operating right now. As long as we believe we will play a meaningful number of games in 2020, then I believe we can avoid the most painful forms of budget reduction."

Middleton did go on to caution employees that "with zero revenues for the foreseeable future, there may very well come a time when certain adjustments have to be made," but he said it was premature to speculate on the specifics of those potential adjustments.

Middleton's letter comes one month after all 30 teams informed full-time employees that they would receive full pay and benefits through the month of April, at which time teams would reassess.

Earlier this week, the Atlanta Braves informed employees that they would continue to be paid in full through May. The Phillies are believed to be just the second major league team to assure their workers that they would be paid through May.

"We are all part of the Phillies Family, and together we will get through this," Middleton wrote.

With the entire sports world shut down by the coronavirus health crisis, teams in all professional sports leagues have had to consider pay cuts and layoffs. The Utah Jazz made cuts. The Buffalo Sabres have had significant layoffs. High-ranking executives from the Texas Rangers have taken voluntary pay cuts as have top officials with Major League Baseball. Locally, the 76ers planned to cut employee salaries last month but backed off due to public backlash.

Layoffs and salary cuts were a major issue during baseball's work stoppage in 1994-95. Some teams did cut staff and pay. The Phillies did not.

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