The MLBPA Just Sent Out Its Union Authorization Cards To Minor Leaguers: The MLBPA took the first step in unionizing the minor leagues on Sunday night. Authorization cards were sent to minor league players, allowing them voting rights for representation.
Minor league baseball players are an important part of our game and deserve remuneration that’s befitting of the elite athletes they are. Minor leaguers represent baseball’s future, and we want to help them achieve their goals both on and off the field.
The recent news that the Major League Baseball Players Association and minor league baseball players want to unionize is in line with prior actions on the part of players who won a $185 million settlement from the MLB and have seen increased pay in recent decades. Minor league players are seeking for compensation to be raised, which is a difficult issue because their benefits are not collectively bargained. The Senate Judiciary Committee has also hinted that it would like to explore MLB’s antitrust exemption in regards to its treatment of minor leaguers.
Dick Durbin, D-Illinois and the Senate Judiciary Committee’s chairman, tweeted his support for the Major League Baseball Player’s Association’s recent announcement that it is partnering with minor leaguers in order to organize a better career for themselves.
Over the last couple of years, many professional players have spoken publicly about their concerns. This was pivotal in getting us to where we are now and helped to create Advocates for Minor Leaguers, which provides a platform for players to speak out and be heard.
Because 30% of minor league players have already signed union authorization cards, an election has been scheduled that if a majority of those who vote choose for union representation in the National Labor Relations Board, the MLB will then be required to recognize the union. It’s hard to imagine that this outcome five years ago would have seemed so achievable.
Players unionization efforts began to pick up speed as major league players became more vocal with their support. With the help of player-outreach coordinators on minor league teams and executives from the Advocates, player representatives are distributing voting cards to teammates.
These young star players have demonstrated an unprecedented ability to address workplace issues with a collective voice. In joining the Major League Baseball Players Association, this voice is guaranteed to be heard by unions at the bargaining table.
Minor league players started to speak about union representation more openly including personally, in front of their teams and the media. As the momentum built around this discussion, the MLBPA sent out a demonstration of support by committing one million dollars in 2020 to organizations who help minor league players, such as Advocates and More Than Baseball. The donation brings on Marino and Kevin Slack, a former Democratic political operative who became director of communications and development at Advocates.
In recent years, the issue of minor league players working conditions rose to a pivotal story as many leagues attempted to use the Senne v. MLB antitrust lawsuit as leverage for increased contractual power over players. Though unionization existed as a potential solution, fear of risk and difficulty in gathering leadership prevented players from organizing. There were concerns that the team’s power would tear individual careers apart and member participation constantly changes.
MLB’s minor league players could be the key to determining how competitive the game of baseball is even in this day and age. In a recent interview, minor league player Jake Marietta said he believes donations made by major league players have increased knowledge of labor rights among minor leaguers. The game will be healthier if its minor leaguers are involved, as well as informed on their rights as employees.
The feedback received by Clark in his interviews with players is giving him confidence that the MLBPA will be able to represent minor league players, who have been on the forefront of supporting player movement this past year. They always give me confidence.
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