In a groundbreaking update Monday evening, the first step was taken to unionize the minor leagues, a movement that has gained plenty of steam over recent years to garner fair treatment and pay for MiLB players. The Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) has distributed “authorization cards” to minor league players to formally state that they want to be represented by the MLBPA.
Major news: The Major League Baseball Players Association wants to unionize minor leaguers. The union has sent authorization cards to minor leaguers, cards intended "to demonstrate ... sufficient support among you and your fellow minor league players to hold a ... election."— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) August 29, 2022
In an email to player agents late Monday night, MLBPA executive director Tony Clark provided an overview of the unfair treatment of MiLB players since the league’s emergence in 1901. He cited the value of Minor League Baseball as a business, conveying the extremely disproportionate wages that players are receiving for a business (league) that grossed $864 million in revenue. The United States poverty line for a one-person household is $13,590 (which is already unlivable, for the record), and Clark showcased that minor leaguers earn well below that until maybe reaching Triple-A. Players typically start in rookie ball making around $4,800, gradually (but not substantially) increasing through Triple-A at $15,400.
When it’s laid out in basic terms, it’s incredible that this treatment of players has lasted as long as it has. Nobody should be forced to work full time and make poverty wages.
This topic sparked a lot of discussion in the CBA negotiations during the lockout this past offseason, when MLB wanted to potentially limit the amount of minor leaguers that can be on a roster. It was further brought to light how little players got compensated, as well as several speaking out on social media about working an additional job or two in order to live. Just last month, MLB had to pay an $185 million settlement to cover overtime violations for thousands of players in a class-action lawsuit that was triggered by three former minor league players.
Advocates for Minor Leaguers, the original organization that helped provide a voice for the players and truly ignite this movement, will also be working with the MLBPA to continue the effort to fight for a more fair future of baseball. In order for the Players Association to officially represent MiLB players, it will need at least 30% of players to sign the cards, and subsequently would require 50% approval among minor leaguers to institute the union.
As Tony Clark mentioned in his email, apparel sales alone cover the cost of minor league players wages. And there are still MILLIONS sitting there in MLB’s pocket, as they watch their players work day-in and day-out to attempt to improve to make it to The Show ... for a few thousand dollars?
This first step to getting MiLB players to unionize is revolutionary for not only current and future players, but for the game of baseball overall.