Major League Baseball will voluntarily recognize the M.L.B. Players Association because the formal union representative of minor league players, Commissioner Rob Manfred said on Friday. At a news conference regarding upcoming on-field rules changes in the main leagues, Manfred announced the notable development within the rapidly progressing unionization efforts by minor league players.
“We, I think, notified the M.L.B.P.A. today that we’re prepared to execute an agreement on voluntary recognition, and I think they’re working on the language as we speak,” Manfred said.
Amongst the small print remaining to be ironed out are the scale and scope of the bargaining unit. The union declined to comment through a spokesman.
Having played for greater than 100 years with out a formal union, the players of minor league baseball lack formal representation and thus cannot collectively bargain over wages or working conditions. Lately, minor league players and advocacy groups have change into more vocal concerning the players’ struggles and have gotten the eye of the U.S. Congress.
The chief board of the union, which has long declined to represent minor leaguers partly since the interests of the 2 groups may be at odds, voted two weeks ago to take this step. The union then sent out union authorization cards to over 5,000 domestic minor league players.
In only over every week, the union announced on Tuesday, “a big majority” of minor league players had signed the cards authorizing the union to change into their collective bargaining representative and, as result, it asked M.L.B. for formal recognition. (The minor league players would have a separate bargaining unit throughout the larger union.)
“Minor league players have made it unmistakably clear they need the M.L.B.P.A. to represent them and are able to begin collective bargaining with a view to positively affect the upcoming season,” Tony Clark, the pinnacle of the players’ union, said in a press release then.
With M.L.B. taking this route, minor league players avoided an extended unionization process.
A union may be formed in two ways. First, if a minimum of 30 percent of staff sign a card or petition saying they desire a union, the National Labor Relations Board will conduct an election. And if the vast majority of those that vote select a union, the board will certify the union because the representative for collective bargaining. The second way — the one Manfred said M.L.B. was selecting — is when an employer voluntarily recognizes a union based on evidence that a majority of employees want it to represent them.
The M.L.B.P.A., which negotiated its first collective bargaining agreement in 1968, already represents players as they enter the skilled ranks, reminiscent of players chosen within the domestic amateur draft or international amateur free agents. But once they sign with an M.L.B. organization, the players aren’t represented by the union again until they’re added to a team’s 40-man roster (1,200 total across all 30 M.L.B. teams).
While some players live off large signing bonuses negotiated of their first contracts, many must work second jobs to make ends meet. Based on Advocates for Minor Leaguers, a nonprofit founded two years ago that has spearheaded this fight and was recently folded into the union, the “overwhelming majority” of minor league players “make lower than $12,000 — below the federal poverty line.”
M.L.B., which took over and commenced reorganizing the minor leagues two years ago, has long argued that those players were much like apprentices in fields reminiscent of art, music and theater who’re working to interrupt into the next echelon of their trade by which they might be handsomely compensated. Based on M.L.B., the typical time spent within the minor leagues was roughly two and a half years. The minimum M.L.B. salary in 2022 is $700,000, while the typical is $4 million.
In 2021, M.L.B. raised pay for minor league players, with Class A minimum salaries rising from $290 to $500 every week and Class AAA salaries increasing from $502 to $700. And this season, it enacted a housing policy under which all 30 M.L.B. teams were required to furnish housing to most players. (Up to now, players often needed to pay for their very own housing, which resulted in instances by which several would jam right into a single room of an apartment.)
Scott Miller contributed reporting.