Caddies end lawsuit against PGA Tour; Tour to implement healthcare program for caddies
A lawsuit filed by PGA Tour caddies in 2015 against the PGA Tour has come to an end.
The Association of Professional Tour Caddies (APTC) had been seeking a way to minimize the rising costs of healthcare insurance. Those measures included trying to find sponsors for a small part of their caddie bibs, shirt sleeves and hats to heavily subsidize the health costs, which for some caddies, was in excess of $25,000 to cover themselves and their families.
“That’s a huge chunk of change,” APTC President, Scott Sajtinac said. “And it’s not like having coverage means you don’t keep paying. Most plans for individuals mean you’re still on the hook for 20 percent of costs, after a deductible, if you claim anything. This was crushing some caddie families out on Tour.”
When it became known that the caddies were pursuing avenues to off-set those insurance costs – with logos – the PGA Tour stepped in.
“We were told the bib is out of bounds because it wasn’t ours, even though we were the ones wearing it each and every week, plastered with different corporate logos,” Sajtinac said. “Communication and dialogue to try and navigate through all this rapidly ended before it really even began — and we were left in no man’s land. Just rapidly increasing insurance costs. We didn’t understand why we couldn’t use our own bodies to save ourselves thousands of dollars in health care. That’s when the lawsuit began. We simply wanted our questions answered.”
“Commissioner Monahan and Andy Pazder were both fantastic throughout this whole process. Their willingness to listen and move forward meant a lot to us.” — Scott Sajtinac, APTC President
The caddies lost their class-action suit in District Court in February 2016 and then lost an appeal in August 2018.
But, something happened in the middle of the suit, one that is proving to be a massive step forward for the caddies: Jay Monahan was appointed the PGA Tour’s new commissioner in January 2017.
“With Commissioner Monahan now at the helm, within weeks of his tenure starting, healthy dialogue began,” Sajtinac said. “The caddies and the Tour were finally talking. And Jay was fantastic through this whole process. He truly wanted to understand what it was we were dealing with. So, we got to work. Over the course of the next year or so we, and the PGA Tour’s Andy Pazder, along with Commissioner Monahan, got to work and hashed out a solution. A plan that will be implemented — as early as January 2019, I believe — that will indeed help offset these rising health insurance costs. When I became president of the APTC, I told the guys, ‘it’s my goal to come to a resolution on this.’ I didn’t want to be president and have this hanging over us. I told the board I was going to reach out to the Tour again and see if we can’t find a solution. So far, it’s been great.”
Sajtinac couldn’t praise Monahan and Pazder enough for their willingness to right what the caddies saw as a wrong.
“I’m a big believer in healthy communication, whether in business, life, on the golf course with our players,” he said. “There must always be candid communication. And that’s why we ended up here today, with a great resolution. It’s a win-win for all and, for that, the caddies are very grateful. Commissioner Monahan and Andy Pazder were both fantastic throughout this whole process. Their willingness to listen and move forward meant a lot to us.”
Very soon, the Tour will be implementing a healthcare program for all caddies on the PGA Tour that will significantly help caddies and their families off-set healthcare costs.
“I’m delighted we’ve got to this point and I speak on behalf of all caddies,” Sajtinac said, “when I say we truly look forward to a healthy working relationship with the Tour moving forward.”