MLBPA hired a new chief negotiator

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Over at FanGraphs, Sheryl Ring wrote an informative article about a recent hire by the MLBPA. Attorney Bruce Meyer is the union’s new Senior Director of Collective Bargaining and Legal, which was announced last week.

In the MLBPA’s announcement, Meyer is touted as having “advised the players’ unions in basketball, football, and hockey on a wide variety of legal matters.” MLBPA executive director Tony Clark said, “With the experience and expertise he has gained from decades of protecting and advancing player rights, Bruce is uniquely qualified for this new role and will play an integral part in all that we do moving forward.”

Ring, a lawyer herself, says that Meyer is “by just about any metric, on the short list of the best trial lawyers in the United States and very likely the world — and he has experience turning around labor disputes for unions.” Ring adds that Meyer is “the only trial lawyer on the planet to have won the right of free agency for two of the four major North American sports.”

In other words, the MLBPA is gearing up for a fight in the lead up to the current collective bargaining agreement’s expiration date of December 1, 2021. We’ve covered various issues here since the current CBA was ratified, including service time manipulation, the qualifying offer system, and the recent stagnation of free agency. All will very likely be points of contention between the union and ownership. The arbitration system could also be subject to change, especially vis-à-vis service time manipulation.

In the time since the current CBA was ratified, the union has come off looking weak under Clark’s leadership. The MLBPA focused more on quality-of-life changes like more off days rather than fighting back on ownership’s expansion of power. Meyer’s hiring shows that the union has no intention of being a pushover at the next round of negotiations.

Meyer’s hiring, however, does not necessarily mean the MLBPA is preparing for a lockout. With Major League Baseball making money hand over fist, some of which indeed makes its way down to the players, neither side actually wants a work stoppage. But both sides will use the threat of it in what will amount to a game of chicken. With Meyer in the fold, the MLBPA intends to win that game this time around.