MLB players’ association trying to unionize minor leaguers

Aug 28, 2022, 7:27 PM | Updated: Aug 29, 2022, 2:40 pm
FILE - Major League Baseball Players Association Executive Director Tony Clark answers a question a...

FILE - Major League Baseball Players Association Executive Director Tony Clark answers a question at a press conference in their offices in New York, Friday, March 11, 2022. The Major League Baseball Players Association is attempting to unionize minor leaguers, reversing decades of opposition. The players' association said Monday, Aug. 29, 2022, it is circulating union authorization cards among players with minor league contracts to form a separate bargaining unit from the big leaguers. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

(AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — The Major League Baseball Players Association is attempting to unionize minor leaguers, reversing decades of opposition.

The players’ association said Monday it is circulating union authorization cards among players with minor league contracts to form a separate bargaining unit from the big leaguers.

While the average major league salary is above $4 million, players with minor league contracts earn as little as $400 a week during the six-month season.

“The working conditions facing these players have been nothing short of offensive,” union head Tony Clark wrote in a letter Sunday to player agents. “Poverty wages, oppressive reserve rules, discipline without due process, ever-expanding offseason obligations, appropriation of intellectual property, substandard attention to player health and safety, and a chronic lack of respect for minor leaguers as a whole (to name just a few) — these cancers on our game exist because minor league players have never had a seat at the bargaining table. It’s time for that to change.”

The union’s executive board unanimously approved the minor league initiative on Friday.

Clark was not available to respond to questions, spokesman Chris Dahl said.

Signed cards from 30% of minor leaguers in the bargaining unit would allow the union to file a petition to the National Labor Relations Board asking for an union authorization election. There are 5,000 to 6,500 U.S.-based minor leaguers at any given time, MLB estimates, the number increasing when new players sign each summer.

An authorization election would be decided by majority vote. MLB also could voluntarily recognize the union representing the bargaining unit, a process that typically can occur if a majority of the unit signs cards.

The staff of Advocates for Minor Leaguers, which formed two years ago, quit and will work for the MLBPA. The union gave the minor league group $50,000 last November.

“This generation of minor league players has demonstrated an unprecedented ability to address workplace issues with a collective voice,” Harry Marino, the executive director of Advocates for Minor Leaguers, said in a statement. “Joining with the most powerful union in professional sports assures that this voice is heard where it matters most — at the bargaining table.”

Players with major league contracts, of which there are approximately 1,200, are represented by the union, which since the 1981 strike settlement also has negotiated terms for those on option to the minor leagues.

MLB raised weekly minimum salaries for minor leaguers in 2021 to $400 at rookie and short-season levels, $500 at Class A, $600 at Double-A and $700 at Triple-A. For players on option, the minimum is $57,200 per season for a first big league contract and $114,100 for later big league contracts.

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

Prodded by the minor league advocacy group, leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee said last month they planned a hearing on the sport’s antitrust exemption.

Unionizing could limit the minor leaguers’ ability in future lawsuits. The Supreme Court ruled in the 1996 case Brown v. Pro Football Inc. that unionized industries are exempt from antitrust challenges.

The big league union had long declined to represent minor leaguers, though its labor contract specifies terms for the amateur draft and signing bonuses for amateur players. There were 128 draft picks this year who agreed to signing bonuses of $500,000 and up, including 82 for at least $1 million.

The players’ association negotiated its first collective bargaining agreement in 1968 and has gone through nine work stoppages, the latest a 99-day lockout that delayed the start of this season.

Major League Baseball and lawyers for minor leaguers agreed this year to a $185 million settlement of an 8-year-old federal lawsuit alleging violations of minimum wage laws. An early estimate is that perhaps 23,000 players could share roughly $120 million with an average payment of $5,000 to $5,500, and their lawyers will split $55.5 million.

U.S. Chief Magistrate Judge Joseph C. Spero in San Francisco granted preliminary approval to the settlement on Friday and scheduled a Feb. 17 fairness hearing ahead of possible final approval.

___

More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

New York Yankees' Aaron Judge looks out before a baseball game against the Boston Red Sox Sunday, S...
Associated Press

MLB playoff primer: Things to know as postseason nears

Major League Baseball’s postseason has a little more heft this season. The playoffs are rapidly approaching, with the final regular season games set for Oct. 5. The postseason begins two days later with a field of 12 teams — up from last year’s 10 — and includes a best-of-three format for the opening wild-card round. […]
1 day ago
Dallas Cowboys cornerback Anthony Brown (3) strips the ball from New York Giants wide receiver Ster...
Associated Press

Veteran Giants receiver Sterling Shepard has torn ACL

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Veteran wide receiver Sterling Shepard tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee on the New York Giants’ final offensive play in their loss to the Dallas Cowboys, coach Brian Daboll said Tuesday. Daboll had indicated after Monday night’s game that the injury to New York’s leading receiver was […]
1 day ago
Stephen F. Austin safety JaTerious Evans brings down the Warner quarterback for a sack during an NC...
Associated Press

‘Whoa, 98-0’: Coach of team on end of huge loss OK with it

Two days after his Warner University football team lost 98-0 to Stephen F. Austin in one of the most lopsided games of all time, Dialleo Burks channeled his inner P.T. Barnum. Like the 19th-century circus impresario once said, there’s no such thing as bad publicity. It was in that vein that Burks recalled a conversation […]
1 day ago
United States' Kahleah Copper runs past South Korea's Heo Yeeun during their game at the women's Ba...
Associated Press

Kahleah Copper’s FIBA diary: Rest, rest, rest

SYDNEY (AP) — Rest, rest and more rest. There’s been a lot of basketball in a short time and finding time to recover has been key to staying fresh and having success. You have to take care of your body. I have to give a huge thank you to the training staff of Courtney (Watson), […]
1 day ago
NASCAR driver Kurt Busch, foreground, helps paint the pit wall pink during 10th annual recognition ...
Associated Press

Kurt Busch hopeful he can return from concussion this year

CONCORD, N.C. (AP) — Kurt Busch said Tuesday he remains “hopeful” he will recover from a concussion in time to race again before the end of the NASCAR season. The 2004 Cup champion has been sidelined since he crashed July 23 during qualifying at Pocono Raceway. He’s so far missed 10 races — both Ty […]
1 day ago
South Florida head coach Jeff Scott, left, and Florida head coach Billy Napier greet each other at ...
Associated Press

Florida, USF, South Carolina move home games ahead of Ian

Florida’s home football game against Eastern Washington scheduled for Saturday has been moved to Sunday because of Hurricane Ian, which is expected to hit the state’s southwest coast on Wednesday. The Gators and Eagles will kick off at noon in Gainesville shortly before NFL games around the country. Playing the game guarantees Eastern Washington a […]
1 day ago
MLB players’ association trying to unionize minor leaguers