Minor League Baseball is taking steps towards a union, and several players seem to be in favor.
The baseball world awoke Monday morning to the news that the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA for short) is taking steps toward the potential unionization of the minor leagues.
This is a welcomed development, as the unfair treatment of minor-league players has been a major talking point over the past few seasons. Out of that development, horror stories are brought to light as mere examples of what minor-league players have to deal with on a daily basis.
Brittany Ghiroli of The Athletic wrote an incredible piece on these hardships last year. The piece gives a very in-depth look at just how bad minor leaguers have had it in recent years.
On Sunday evening, the MLBPA reportedly sent authorization cards to all minor-league players that asked the players to vote on whether they were in favor of a union or not. Should 30 percent of players sign the cards, those will then be presented to a board (National Labor Relations Board) to show the serious interest.
If 50 percent of the players sign the cards, the board would then require Major League Baseball to recognize the union as legitimate.
Tony Clark, the MLBPA’s executive director, said Monday in a statement:
"“Minor leaguers represent our game’s future and deserve wages and working conditions that befit elite athletes who entertain millions of baseball fans nationwide. They’re an important part of our fraternity and we want to help them achieve their goals both on and off the field. Everything we’ve achieved as an organization is tied to the players at that time being willing to stand for what they believed was right and fair.”"
Minor League Baseball: Players rejoice over talk of potential union
Minor-league baseball players have long advocated for the raising of salaries for the players that have yet to stick in the majors. As things currently stand, the salary ranges for baseball’s next stars are from $5,000 to $14,000 per season. More than ever, players have been using their voices to express concerns with the conditions that come with playing in Minor League Baseball.
Several players spoke briefly to FanSided regarding the news.
“This is amazing, it will limit how taken advantage of minor leaguers are. It has been pretty brutal for guys I’ve been around. Things have been completely unfair without a lot of these guys even realizing it,” said Conner Greene, a veteran of nine seasons in the minor leagues who received his first promotion to the big leagues last season with the Orioles and Dodgers.
Matt Lipka, a 12-year MiLB veteran, has seen it all. Lipka is a fan of the decision as a whole.
“Obviously very grateful that the MLBPA came to this decision. I think it’s 100% the right move for our game as a whole. A lot of really good players out there that are just awaiting an opportunity to show what they are made of. You want those guys to not be limited by other factors. Makes for a more quality product of baseball everywhere,” Lipka said.
This major step towards a union comes just over a month after Major League Baseball was forced to pay $185 million to more than 20,000 players in the minor leagues. This came from a dispute between the players and the league over whether minor leaguers should be compensated for Spring Training games. Before this payout, the players were not paid for it.
Kent Emanuel, a veteran of eight seasons in the minor leagues who broke into the majors last year with the Astros, told FanSided, “This is such a great thing and it’s long overdue. I think a minor league union would improve our game in the long run.”
Ryan Sherriff, a teammate of Emanuel’s in the Philadelphia Phillies organization, echoed his statement in a conversation with FanSided, saying that the potential union is “a great sign for minor leagues players for sure.”
All signs point to minor league players finally being properly represented and having a real voice in the game of baseball. The years of perseverance and using any platform they can is nearing a huge payoff.