SAN DIEGO – A day after a group of more than 80 PGA Tour caddies filed a class-action lawsuit against the circuit over unpaid endorsement fees, commissioner Tim Finchem broke with protocol, however slightly, to talk about the challenge.
Although Finchem, who spoke Wednesday at Torrey Pines, declined to address the specifics of the lawsuit, which is the circuit’s longtime stance when it comes to ongoing litigation, he did point out the historical player/caddie relationship.
“Most people don’t understand the way a caddie/player relationship works. It goes back a long way,” Finchem said. “[The player] makes an arrangement with somebody that’s going to carry the bag and work with him. They work out a financial arrangement ... the historical process is the player handles that.”
The caddies, who filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, claim they are forced to wear logo-covered bibs without receiving any proceeds from contracts that lawyers for the caddies estimate are valued at $50 million annually.
For the last few months, the caddies have been attempting to negotiate a deal with the Tour for the circuit to contribute to a retirement fund and health insurance for the caddies, but when those talks broke down they took the matter to court.
Finchem, however, said it’s never been the Tour’s policy to negotiate with caddies. He also explained that the circuit currently gives caddies a $2,000 annual stipend for health insurance.
“We think it’s worked and we would like to continue it,” Finchem said. “We’ll just have to see what comes from the lawsuit.”