Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Minor league baseball players officially form associations 17 days after the event begins. CBC Sports

More than 5,500 Minor League Baseball players formed a union Wednesday, completing a lightning-fast organization campaign launched just 17 days ago in an effort to reduce annual wages to as low as $10,400 US. was.

The game’s independent arbiter, Martin Scheinman, informed Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association that most of the minor league bargaining unit’s 5,567 players had signed union authorization cards since the drive began on August 28. He did not provide a specific number of sides.

“This historic achievement required the right group of players at the right time,” union chief Tony Clarke said in a statement. “Minor leaguers have boldly seized that moment, and we look forward to improving their terms and conditions of employment through a process of goodwill collective bargaining.”

MLB agreed on Saturday that it would voluntarily accept a union if it had majority support and would not force players to petition the National Labor Relations Board to hold representation elections.

“Major League Baseball has a long history of bargaining in good faith with unions, including minor and major league umpires and major league players,” the league said in a statement. “Based on the authorization card collected, MLB has voluntarily and immediately recognized the MLBPA as representatives of minor league players. We expect a timely and fair collective bargaining agreement to be reached.”

The minor leaguers form a separate bargaining unit within the MLBPA, which negotiated its first collective bargaining agreement for the major leaguers in 1968, but had no interest in representing players with minor league deals until now. About 1,200 major leaguers are covered by the big league agreement, and their average salary has increased from $19,000 in 1967 to more than $4 million this year.

Major League Baseball Commissioner Robert D. Manfred Jr. speaks during a press conference at MLB Headquarters in New York City. (Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

The minor leaguers are expected to choose player representatives who will lead them in bargaining during the off-season. Bruce Meyer, who led talks for a major league deal last winter, will lead the minor league talks, and Deputy Commissioner Dan Hallem will be the point person for management. Meyer was promoted to deputy executive director in July.

Harry Marino, who has served as Chief of Advocates for the Minor Leaguers since April 2021, was appointed as Assistant General Counsel for the MLBPA.

“For decades, conventional wisdom held that unionizing minor leagues was impossible,” Marino said in a statement. “Over the years, a group of audacious and committed people came together to prove that wrong.”

MLB raised the weekly minimum wage for minor leaguers in 2021 to $400 at the rookie and short-season levels, $500 in Class A, $600 in Double-A and $700 in Triple-A. For players with major league contracts at the option of minors, the minimum is $57,200 per season for the first major league contract and $114,100 for subsequent major league contracts.

In addition, MLB this year began requiring teams to provide accommodation for most minor leaguers.

“In a multi-billion dollar industry, there is no excuse for these players to be paid below the poverty line,” AFL-CIO President Liz Schuler said in a statement. “By joining together to use their collective voice at the bargaining table, the minor leagues will be able to advocate for a union contract that will ensure a future with decent pay and benefits.”

Many amateurs receive large early signing bonuses: This year 67 of the top 68 drafters agreed to $1 million or more, and each of the top 97 who signed received more than $690,000.

The MLBPA also regulates agents for major leaguers who require certification and establishes rules that include restrictions on payments, gifts and loans to customers. Agents negotiating minor league contracts have been unregulated.

controversial relationship

MLB and the big league union have had a contentious relationship that led to nine jobs halted, including a 99-day lockdown last winter that delayed the start of the season.

Minor league union dues are likely to be a fraction of major league dues: $85 per day in this year’s 182-day season. The association does not represent players in the Dominican Summer League.

Next year’s minor league schedule opens to the Triple-A on March 31 and the lower tiers on April 6, when the minor leaguers’ leverage may be at their greatest. A strike can prompt each team to have its dozen or so alternate players play temporary games at training complexes.

The major league association has represented alternate players since 1981.

Lawyers for MLB and minor leaguers this year agreed to a $185 million settlement of an eight-year-old federal lawsuit alleging violations of minimum wage laws, a deal that could be finalized next year. An initial estimate is that perhaps 23,000 players could share about $120 million, with an average payout of $5,000 to $5,500, and their attorneys would split $55.5 million.

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