Minor leaguers sent authorization card to allow MLBPA as CBA representative

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MLBPA members have been given an authorization card by the MLBPA to allow the players’ union to act as their representative for collective bargaining, MLBPA director Tony Clark confirmed Sunday night.

The move marks a monumental step for minor leaguers, who have been unable to collectively negotiate matters such as their payment, housing and name, image and likeness.

Clark said the players’ union is moving forward because they’ve heard from enough minor leaguers about the desire for union representation.

“Over the course of the last few weeks and really over the past few years, there has been an accumulation of players offering their voices and their concerns with Advocates for Minor Leaguers who kept repeating and merging those voices in a way that until now,” Clark told ESPN.

For the MLBPA to represent minor leaguers and trigger an election, 30% or more of the players must vote that they want union representation. If more than 50% of minor leaguers subsequently vote for union representation, the National Labor Relations Board will require Major League Baseball to recognize the union. MLB and the MLBPA would then have to collectively negotiate a minor leaguer.

According to Clark, the MLBPA went ahead with this vote to potentially represent the minor leagues after it was approved by the player’s union leadership. According to multiple competition sources, every minor league team across America has player representatives who hand out the voting cards to teammates to organize the vote. This logistical coordination was organized by Advocates for Minor Leaguers, which has four player outreach coordinators who regularly speak with minor leaguers.

On Sunday, those who worked for Advocates for Minor Leaguers resigned from the nonprofit and became employees of the MLBPA to help organize their efforts to collectively negotiate minor leaguers.

Harry Marino, executive director of Advocates for Minor Leaguers — who played in the minor leagues for the Diamondbacks and Orioles farming system — joined Advocates for Minor Leaguers in 2020, initially envisioning a multi-year timeline to organize the minor leagues. The effort accelerated over the 2021 and 2022 seasons as more and more minor league players expressed an interest in union representation.

Public pressure created in part by Advocates for Minor Leaguers has helped Major League Baseball create a universal housing policy, guaranteeing housing for minor leaguers and teams that are in arrears for spring training. Lawyers for Minor Leaguers organized a petition signed by more than 1,000 minor league players asking Major League Baseball teams to pay players for spring training in late April, describing the petition as a step toward unionization.

“It’s time now because major league and minor league players are letting us know it’s time,” Marino told ESPN. “It’s this group of players at the minor league level that has fueled this in recent seasons and the major league players have noticed and finally decided to take this step.”

The MLBPA and Advocates would not confirm a timeline or deadline for the voting process.

There has been growing optimism among minor leaguers about the possibility of union representation over the course of the 2022 season. Underage players who spoke to ESPN said conversations about union representation changed dramatically from 2021 to 2022, with more players speaking openly about their living conditions, both privately and publicly.

Marino said major leaguers who expressed their support for minor leaguers in union representation played a big part in moving forward.

“Major League players have tremendous power in this game,” said Marino. “And knowing that Major Leaguers have their backs is really what makes all the difference to the minor league guys.”

Clark expressed confidence in the vote for the MLBPA to represent minor leaguers because of the feedback he received from players.

“Listening to the players and the concerns they expressed in their interest in creating a formal place at the negotiating table gives me confidence,” Clark said. “The players always give me confidence.”

Major League Baseball did not respond to the request for comment.

Both Clark and Marino said the minor league’s efforts to vote for union representation under the MLBPA are in line with the greater trend of labor organization in the United States. While both acknowledged that Major League Baseball could continue to consolidate the minor leagues, as Commissioner Rob Manfred wrote to the Senate Judiciary Committee, the pair believe minor leaguers will be better off in the long run.

“The baseball game will be better for everyone,” Marino said, “when minor league players are sitting at the table.”

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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