Minor league baseball players are a step closer to joining their big-league counterparts under the Major League Baseball Players Association.
More than 50% of minor league baseball players have returned signed authorization cards backing the MLBPA’s efforts to bring them under their umbrella, according to The Athletic.
As a result, MLBPA deputy executive director Bruce Meyer requested voluntary recognition of the union as the bargaining agent for the minor leaguers in a letter sent Tuesday to deputy MLB commissioner Dan Halem.
“With a significant majority of minor leaguers already authorizing the Major League Baseball Players Association to become their collective bargaining representative and to create their own Minor League bargaining unit, the MLBPA today requested formal recognition from Major League Baseball,” the MLBPA said in a statement.
The MLBPA didn’t put a percentage of the number of authorization cards it had received, but The Athletic reported the “more than 50%” figure citing a union official.
“Minor league players have made it unmistakably clear that they want the MLBPA to represent them and are ready to begin collective bargaining in order to positively affect the upcoming season,” MLBPA executive director Tony Clark said in the statement.
MLB, under commissioner Rob Manfred, has yet to comment on the letter.
The move is the first of its kind among minor leaguers and would allow these players to collectively bargain for better wages and playing conditions.
“This is my eighth year,” Andres Angulo, a catcher in the Baltimore Orioles system, told The Athletic. “Last year I went home with $500 in my pocket. And I don’t think that’s something I want for my life. But I’m still in baseball, just because I have a dream to make it to the big leagues. But I don’t think that’s fair to us.”
The authorization cards were sent out less than two weeks ago.
If MLB doesn’t voluntarily accept the union, then the MLBPA needs just 30% of the roughly 5,000 to 6,500 minor leaguers to have signed authorization cards to then take the matter before the National Labor Relations Board. A majority vote is all that is needed in a formal election with the NLRB.
If minor leaguers do join forces with the MLBPA, they would then form their own bargaining unit.
A day after authorization cards were initially sent out on Aug. 28., the MLBPA announced they hired staff from Minor League Advocates, a non-profit group that gives a voice to minor leaguers, to unite efforts in the lengthy unionization process.
With Daily News Wire Services