Major League Baseball Players’ Association joined the AFL-CIO on Wednesday, cementing its ties to the larger labor movement as it seeks to significantly expand its membership through the Minor League Players Association.
MLBPA CEO Tony Clark announced the affiliation at the Q&A National Press Club in Washington Wednesday morning with AFL-CIO President Liz Schuller. The MLBPA will join unions representing men’s and women’s soccer players in the AFL-CIO Sports Council, which has 58 federations among its federations.
Fast-moving efforts to unite unions continued Tuesday when the union sought the MLB to voluntarily recognize the MLBPA as a bargaining agent for minor league players after more than half of the union’s authorization cards were returned. If the MLB does not voluntarily recognize, players can petition the National Labor Relations Board for recognition if more than 50% of players who vote in the election choose to join a union.
“Strengthening the brotherhood of our players by bringing the minor leagues under our umbrella as well as joining the AFL-CIO – together, we’ll get through that mess,” Clark said. “Together we will work it out in a way that will serve as an additional reminder of the strength, unity, and value associated with focus and purpose – something that the labor movement has always been committed to.”
Clark said the MLBPA was “encouraged, at least initially, with some of the dialogue we had” with the MLB. The official unions’ efforts began 11 days ago with the distribution of union authorization cards, but “the engagement [with players] It’s been done over several years,” Clark said.
“The junior league players are the backbone of our industry,” Clark said. “It is important that they have a voice at the table. It is important that they have the opportunity to voice their concerns about fair wages and working conditions.”
The focus on the treatment of minor league players has grown in recent years, with players becoming more vocal about annual salary below the poverty line among other issues.
When asked how the players — who get paid just about all seasonally between $400 and $700 a week before taxes — will pay union dues, Clarke said: “As minimal as it would be, if at all, it would go to reflect the interests of the players.
Currently, the MLBPA has 1,200 players on its 40-player major league team rosters. By expanding its rank and profile to include all members of organizations that play locally, the group can add more than 5,000 players.
“It wasn’t about selling it to them,” Clark said. “There was simply recognition of the challenges they faced. The cure is organization.”
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