The Major League Baseball Players Association is taking a big step toward seismic changes in the economics of baseball.
The MLBPA sent out authorization cards to minor league players to begin the process of unionizing them.
A 30% signing rate would trigger a vote to unionize. From there, a majority of minor league players would need to vote to join the MLBPA, allowing the union to collectively bargain on their behalf.
MLB would have to recognize the union under National Labor Relations Board rules.
- More than 5,000 players are currently in MLB’s minor leagues across four levels.
- Players typically make $5,000 to $14,000 annually, following a wage increase in 2021.
- MLB began providing housing for players this year.
“This generation of minor league players has demonstrated an unprecedented ability to address workplace issues with a collective voice,” said Harry Marino, director of Advocates for Minor Leaguers, which is working with the MLBPA on the campaign.
In July, MLB agreed to pay $185 million to settle a class-action lawsuit brought in 2014 by minor leaguers seeking pay for spring training, extended spring training, and instructional league play. MLB has argued that these periods have nonmonetary value as training periods.
MLB contracted the minors from 162 to 120 teams in 2020, eventually spurring a congressional inquiry into MLB’s antitrust exemption. MLB has sought the power to further reduce the number of minor league paid positions.