Unionization would represent a seismic change in the way the minor leagues have operated for more than a century.
The Major League Baseball Players Association, which has represented major leaguers in matters of collective negotiations and labor law since 1966, is seeking to do the same for the thousands of players who annually toil in the minor leagues for notoriously low pay.
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If enough cards are affirmatively returned, the MLBPA will confidentially submit the results to the National Labor Relations Board with the expectation that a union election will be held for minor leaguers, according to Drellich. The timing of such an election would depend on NLRB administration processes, which could take months to complete.
For the MLBPA to begin representing minor leaguers in matters of collective bargaining, more than 50% of those players will then need to vote in favor of unionization. If that happens, the NLRB will require MLB to recognize the union, according to Lee. The MLBPA would then be entrusted with collectively bargaining on behalf of minor leaguers.
Unionization would represent a seismic shift for the minor leagues, which have operated on relatively low budgets for more than a century.
MLBPA executive director Tony Clark pitched unionization to minor leaguers in a four-and-a-half minute video, according to Drellich.
“I believe you are the right group,” Clark said in the video, per Drellich. “I believe you are the right players and I believe that this is the right time. … We strongly encourage you to become involved in this historic effort.”
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred was criticized for his recent response to a question about minor league wages at the All-Star Game in Los Angeles.
Asked whether pay in the minors remains low because MLB owners can’t afford to pay more, or simply don’t want to, Manfred responded forcefully.
“Look, I kind of reject the premise of the question that minor league players are not paid a living wage,” Manfred told reporters. “I think that we’ve made real strides in the last three years in terms of what minor league players are paid—even putting to one side the signing bonuses that many of them have already received. They received housing, which obviously is another form of compensation. So, you know, I just reject the question. I don’t know what else to say.”
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