MLB players’ association trying to unionize minor leaguers

mlbpa
John E. Moore III/Getty Images
0 Comments

NEW YORK — The Major League Baseball Players Association is attempting to unionize minor leaguers, reversing decades of opposition.

The players’ association said Monday it is circulating union authorization cards among players with minor league contracts to form a separate bargaining unit from the big leaguers.

While the average major league salary is above $4 million, players with minor league contracts earn as little as $400 a week during the six-month season.

“The working conditions facing these players have been nothing short of offensive,” union head Tony Clark wrote in a letter Sunday to player agents. “Poverty wages, oppressive reserve rules, discipline without due process, ever-expanding offseason obligations, appropriation of intellectual property, substandard attention to player health and safety, and a chronic lack of respect for minor leaguers as a whole (to name just a few) – these cancers on our game exist because minor league players have never had a seat at the bargaining table. It’s time for that to change.”

The union’s executive board unanimously approved the minor league initiative on Friday.

Clark was not available to respond to questions, spokesman Chris Dahl said.

Signed cards from 30% of minor leaguers in the bargaining unit would allow the union to file a petition to the National Labor Relations Board asking for an union authorization election. There are 5,000 to 6,500 U.S.-based minor leaguers at any given time, MLB estimates, the number increasing when new players sign each summer.

An authorization election would be decided by majority vote. MLB also could voluntarily recognize the union representing the bargaining unit, a process that typically can occur if a majority of the unit signs cards.

The staff of Advocates for Minor Leaguers, which formed two years ago, quit and will work for the MLBPA. The union gave the minor league group $50,000 last November.

“This generation of minor league players has demonstrated an unprecedented ability to address workplace issues with a collective voice,” Harry Marino, the executive director of Advocates for Minor Leaguers, said in a statement. “Joining with the most powerful union in professional sports assures that this voice is heard where it matters most – at the bargaining table.”

Players with major league contracts, of which there are approximately 1,200, are represented by the union, which since the 1981 strike settlement also has negotiated terms for those on option to the minor leagues.

MLB raised weekly minimum salaries for minor leaguers in 2021 to $400 at rookie and short-season levels, $500 at Class A, $600 at Double-A and $700 at Triple-A. For players on option, the minimum is $57,200 per season for a first big league contract and $114,100 for later big league contracts.

In addition, MLB this year began requiring teams to provide housing for most minor leaguers.

Prodded by the minor league advocacy group, leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee said last month they planned a hearing on the sport’s antitrust exemption.

Unionizing could limit the minor leaguers’ ability in future lawsuits. The Supreme Court ruled in the 1996 case Brown v. Pro Football Inc. that unionized industries are exempt from antitrust challenges.

The big league union had long declined to represent minor leaguers, though its labor contract specifies terms for the amateur draft and signing bonuses for amateur players. There were 128 draft picks this year who agreed to signing bonuses of $500,000 and up, including 82 for at least $1 million.

The players’ association negotiated its first collective bargaining agreement in 1968 and has gone through nine work stoppages, the latest a 99-day lockout that delayed the start of this season.

Major League Baseball and lawyers for minor leaguers agreed this year to a $185 million settlement of an 8-year-old federal lawsuit alleging violations of minimum wage laws. An early estimate is that perhaps 23,000 players could share roughly $120 million with an average payment of $5,000 to $5,500, and their lawyers will split $55.5 million.

U.S. Chief Magistrate Judge Joseph C. Spero in San Francisco granted preliminary approval to the settlement on Friday and scheduled a Feb. 17 fairness hearing ahead of possible final approval.

Braves sweep Mets, take 2-game lead in East with 3 remaining

atlanta braves
Adam Hagy/Getty Images
1 Comment

ATLANTA — Dansby Swanson and Matt Olson homered for the third straight game, Travis d'Arnaud hit a go-ahead two-run single in the third inning, and Atlanta Braves beat the New York Mets 5-3, completing a three-game sweep of their NL East rival and taking a two-game lead in the division with three games to play.

The defending World Series champion Braves have been chasing the Mets the entire season. In the final series of the season, any combination of one Atlanta win or one Mets loss would give the Braves their fifth straight division title.

New York plays its final three games of the season against worst-in-the-majors Washington. Atlanta closed out the regular season with a three-game set in Miami. Should the season end Wednesday in a tie, Atlanta would win the division after claiming the season series 10-9 with Sunday’s victory.

The Braves won five of the last six games in the series, outscoring the Mets 42-19 over that stretch. New York had a 10 1/2-game lead on June 1 but now is the lower in the standings than at any point this season.

It was a lost weekend for New York, which came to Atlanta hoping to clinch its first division title since 2015. Instead, aces Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer lost Friday and Saturday before 15-game winner Chris Bassitt lasted just 2 2/3 innings on Sunday.

Swanson took Bassitt deep to right-center in the first with his 25th homer, and Atlanta took charge with a three-run third. Bassitt (15-9) issued a bases-loaded walk to Olson before d’Arnaud delivered a single up the middle to score Ronald Acuna Jr. and Austin Riley for a 4-3 lead. That chased Bassitt, who was charged with four runs, three hits and three walks.

Olson connected for his 33rd homer to make it 5-3 leading off the sixth, his 410-foot shot landing in the seats in right-center. Olson, in his first year with Atlanta, surpassed 100 RBIs for the second straight season.

Charlie Morton stranded runners on first and second in the first, but he gave up Daniel Vogelbach‘s 18th homer that tied it at 1 in the second. The righty struck out Francisco Lindor with runners on first and second to end the threat.

Jeff McNeil went deep off Morton in the third and Vogelbach followed with an RBI single to put the Mets up 3-1. Morton entered the game having allowed 28 homers, sixth-most in the NL.

Morton scuffled throughout his start, giving up three runs and nine hits in 4 1/3 innings as the 38-year-old made his first start since signing a $20 million, one-year contract to remain with Atlanta next season.

Dylan Lee (5-1) relieved Morton and pitched 1 1/3 innings, leaving after a walk to Brandon Nimmo with two outs in the sixth. Collin McHugh entered and struck out Francisco Lindor.

Raisel Iglesias faced four batters in the seventh, A.J. Minter faced the minimum in the eighth and closer Kenley Jansen converted his third save of the series with a clean ninth.

Jansen leads the NL with 40 saves in 47 chances.

The Braves’ bullpen, which posted a 1.70 ERA last month, pitched 8 2/3 scoreless innings the last two nights.

BIG NUMBERS

Atlanta leads the NL with 241 homers. And the Braves have their first 100-victory season since 2003.

TWO, DARN HOT

McNeil went 3 for 5 and has multiple hits in five straight games. His average is .326, one point behind the Dodgers’ Freddie Freeman for the NL batting title. In 23 career games at Truist Park, McNeil is hitting .395 with 12 runs, nine doubles, two homers, seven RBIs and four walks. … Jansen tied Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley for eighth place on the career list with 389. He’s also is the 10th closer to have four different seasons with at least 40 saves.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mets All-Star RF Starling Marte (right middle finger fracture) has yet to begin swinging or throwing. … Braves 2B Ozzie Albies (broken right pinky finger) is still wearing a cast. … Braves RHP Spencer Strider still has not thrown as he gets treatment on a sore left oblique.

ATTENDANCE

The Braves drew 42,713 in their regular season finale, the club’s 42nd sellout of the season. Overall. that’s 3,129,931 for the season – and the most tickets sold since 2000. In 2019, the team’s last full season before the COVID-19 pandemic, Atlanta drew 2,655,100.

UP NEXT

Mets: RHP Carlos Carrasco (15-7, 3.95 ERA) will face Nationals RHP Cory Abbott (0-4, 5.11).

Braves: RHP Bryce Elder (2-3, 2.76 ERA) will face Marlins LHP Jesus Luzardo (3-7, 3.53).